01 March 2016
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Minister confirms Turkish observers will be assigned to Greek refugee centers (ekathimerini.com, lnk):
"Alternate Minister for Citizens’ Protection Nikos Toskas on Saturday confirmed that Turkish officials will be posted to the Greek islands of the eastern Aegean to act as observers and oversee the relocation of migrants who are not eligible for protection from Greece back to Turkey.
Speaking on Skai TV amid media reports that Turkish officials would be allowed into refugee documentation centers, Toskas said that this is part of a protocol he signed with his Turkish counterpart during a Greek government mission to Izmir earlier in the week in order to speed up relocations.
“In this framework, it will be possible for Turkish observers to be admitted at Greek islands to speed up procedures so that migrants who are not eligible for protection are returned [to Turkey] within 48 hours,” Toskas said.
For the time being, he said, one Turkish observer will be assigned to the Moria camp on the island of Lesvos." [emphasis added]
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:
"This appears to confirm that within the new EU-NATO regime refugees will be brought ashore to "hotspot" centres in Greece. There they will subject to: Identification, Registration and Referral. "Referral" would mean "channeling" into those refugees who judged to be entitled to apply for "relocation" within the EU and those said not to be entitled to international protection. The process described does not seems to recognise that all refugees have the right to apply for asylum and that those judged not to be entitled to international protection have the right to legal representation and appeal against such a decision.
It is extremely difficult to see how peoples' rights can be respected in 48 hours. If refugees are to be "processed" in Greece then the full weight of EU law and rights apply. See CJEU judgment (pdf) which found that:
!As regards the fact that the time-limit for bringing an action is 15 days in the case of an accelerated procedure, whilst it is 1 month in the case of a decision adopted under the ordinary procedure, the important point, as the Advocate General has stated in point 63 of his Opinion, is that the period prescribed must be sufficient in practical terms to enable the applicant to prepare and bring an effective action....
"the reasons which led that authority to examine the merits of the application under such a procedure can in fact be subject to judicial review in the action which may be brought against the final decision rejecting the application – a matter which falls to be determined by the referring court.""
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