Friday, January 12, 2018
Greece: suspension of protection grant after first-ever government appeal against positive asylum decision
January 12, 2018
The Administrative Court of Appeal of Athens has accepted a request by the Greek Ministry of Migration Policy for a provisional order to suspend a decision of the Appeals Committee granting refugee status to a Turkish soldier, pending the outcome of judicial review proceedings against the decision. The highly unorthodox order, issued on grounds of public interest to avoid risks of disruption of diplomatic relations with Turkey, follows the first-ever challenge of an Appeals Committee decision by the government before the court. The soldier has been arbitrarily detained following the order.
“The case is a blow not only to the right to asylum, but also to the rule of law and human rights, which the judiciary will once again try to remedy,” said Eleni Koutsouraki, lawyer of the Greek Council for Refugees who represent the applicant.
The applicant was among a group of eight soldiers arriving in Greece following the attempted coup d’état of 15 July 2016 in Turkey. While their extradition upon Turkey’s request was blocked by the Greek Supreme Court due to risks of ill-treatment, his asylum application was rejected by the Asylum Service on grounds of commission of a “serious non-political crime” under the exclusion clauses of Article 1F of the Refugee Convention on the basis that the acts committed were disproportionate to the political aim pursued. The Appeals Committee noted, however, that no documents in the case file contained evidence of the appellant’s participation in the attempted coup d’état, the killings of civilians or the attempted murder of the Turkish President.