Greek judges have ruled that a Syrian asylum seeker should not be sent back to Turkey because it is not safe, BBC reports. Amnesty International campaigners say the decision throws the EU-Turkey migrant deal into doubt.
They say migrants in Turkey do not have basic human rights and many are at risk of being taken to Syria. A source at the Greek migration ministry said the judges were only deciding whether the individual’s case could be heard in Greece or not.
On the same day the judges’ ruling emerged, Greek and EU authorities sent back 51 migrants to Turkey on boats from the islands of Lesbos and Kos.
Under a deal struck between Turkey and the EU, migrants arriving in Greece are sent back to Turkey if they do not apply for asylum or if their claim is rejected.
The deal came into force in March, and more than 400 people have been sent back . Now a Greek committee of judges has decided against sending a Syrian asylum seeker back to Turkey.
‘The right approach’
Amnesty spokesman Giorgos Kosmopoulos told the BBC that Turkey was not currently protecting migrants and refugees to the standards of the Refugee Convention. “Until it becomes a safe country nobody should be returned there,” he said.
Migrants in Turkey could not expect access to the rights to work, medical care or family life and there had been “widespread returns of Syrians back to Syria from Turkey”, he added.
“The whole (EU) deal should stop and refugees should be settled in other European countries safely and with dignity,” Mr Kosmopoulos said. A civil war has been raging in Syria for more than five years.
The migration ministry official said that committees in detention centres on islands did not decide whether migrants were given asylum or not, but only decided whether Greece could examine their claims.
In this case, the committee had decided that the Syrian involved would be allowed to go to mainland Greece while their claim was decided, the official said.