As announ­ced by a press arti­cle today, the Ger­man Minis­ter of the Inte­ri­or, Tho­mas de Mai­ziè­re, has sus­pen­ded all trans­fers of asyl­um see­kers to Greece. He announ­ced that Ger­ma­ny will take char­ge of their asyl­um app­li­ca­ti­ons, refer­ring to cases in which Greece would be respon­si­ble accord­ing to the Dub­lin II Regu­la­ti­on. Howe­ver, other EU mem­ber sta­tes can take over the respon­si­bi­li­ty for exami­ning the cases on huma­ni­ta­ri­an grounds. The Minis­try of the Inte­ri­or has made use of this opti­on. That means that asyl­um see­kers com­ing from Greece can have their app­li­ca­ti­ons pro­ces­sed in Ger­ma­ny. This will app­ly for the dura­ti­on of one year.

PRO ASYL wel­co­mes the sus­pen­si­on of Dub­lin-Trans­fers, deeming this step long over­due. “For the asyl­um see­kers it is a gre­at reli­ef to final­ly know that they will be able to stay in Ger­ma­ny. Howe­ver, the Dub­lin sys­tem is fla­wed from the start” says Marei Pel­zer, legal offi­cer of PRO ASYL. The respon­si­bi­li­ty for asyl­um pro­ce­du­res is being sho­ved to sta­tes at Europe’s exter­nal bor­ders, without suf­fi­ci­ent regard of refu­gees’ indi­vi­du­al needs or the situa­ti­on in tho­se coun­tries.    

PRO ASYL deman­ds a dif­fe­rent mecha­nism of dis­tri­bu­ti­on of asyl­um see­kers wit­hin the EU. The Dub­lin sys­tem needs to be revi­sed fun­da­ment­al­ly.

The cur­rent deci­si­on of the Minis­try of the Inte­ri­or will most likely avo­id a judgment by the Ger­man Con­sti­tu­tio­nal Court, which might have resul­ted in a streng­the­ning of legal pro­tec­tion of asyl­um see­kers. During the court hea­ring in Octo­ber 2010, the Con­sti­tu­tio­nal Court made clear that it doesn’t sha­re the Minister’s euphe­mistic view regar­ding the situa­ti­on in Greece.

PRO ASYL cri­ti­ci­zes that the one year dura­ti­on of the sus­pen­si­on of trans­fers is too short. It can­not be assu­med that the situa­ti­on in Greece will impro­ve wit­hin one year’s time sub­stan­ti­al­ly, so that trans­fers of refu­gees would be pos­si­ble. For years, PRO ASYL has docu­men­ted the unbe­ara­ble cir­cum­s­tan­ces under which refu­gees live in Greece. A huma­ne recep­ti­on sys­tem and fair asyl­um pro­ce­du­res are vir­tual­ly absent.  

PRO ASYL deplo­res that fun­da­men­tal legal ques­ti­ons will now remain unre­sol­ved by the Con­sti­tu­tio­nal Court. They will now have to be deci­ded on the Euro­pean level. Com­ing Fri­day, the Euro­pean Court for Human Rights in Stras­bourg will decla­re its judgment regar­ding the trans­fer of asyl­um see­kers to Greece in accord­ance with the Dub­lin II Regu­la­ti­on. Nume­rous Euro­pean courts have also cal­led upon the Supre­me Court of the EU – the Euro­pean Court of Jus­ti­ce – asking for the cla­ri­fi­ca­ti­on of open ques­ti­ons.

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