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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