Belfast Telegraph

Asylum seekers 'can't go to Greece'

Ireland and Britain have been told they cannot send asylum seekers back to Greece because of the country's inadequate asylum arrangements.

A European Court of Justice ruling said no EU government could take it for granted that another member state's asylum procedures complied with fundamental rights - even though Europe is supposed to have a common asylum policy in place.

Under the policy - the so-called "Dublin 11" Regulation - asylum seekers entering the EU must apply for asylum in the first member state in which they arrive. If they move to another member state, the authorities there can return them to the first country.

But the Luxembourg judges have now ruled that the provision does not apply if an asylum applicant's fundamental rights risk being breached.

In the Irish case, five unconnected people, originating from Afghanistan, Iran and Algeria, each entered the EU in Greece and were arrested for illegal entry. They did not seek asylum, but travelled to Ireland, and did apply for asylum.

They also resisted return to Greece because of inadequate asylum conditions.

In the UK case before the Luxembourg court, an Afghan national, named as NS, came to the UK after entering Greece where he was arrested in 2008.

He was released four days later and given 30 days to leave the country. He did not ask for asylum, and later claimed he was arrested when trying to leave, finally being expelled to Turkey and held in "appalling" conditions for two months. He escaped and travelled to the UK where he applied for asylum.

The UK authorities ordered his return to Greece under "Dublin 11", but NS than launched a legal challenge on the grounds that his fundamental rights would be infringed in Greece.

The Irish High Court and UK Court of Appeal asked the EU judges for a ruling on whether they could send the asylum seekers back.

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