• Equal Rights

Almost forgotten but still illegal: Returns to Greece under the Greek-German Agreement

Updated: Jun 16, 2019

In summer of 2018, the question of whether rejections should and could be made at the Austrian-German border almost led to a break in the German government coalition. The call for "European solutions" was finally fulfilled with the promise of bilateral agreements between the Federal Republic of Germany and Member States with external borders to take back asylum seekers who had already been registered there.

An agreement between Germany and Greece – the content was kept secret for far too long – has meanwhile been implemented. It was only through an unofficial publication by the Greek human rights organisation Refugee Support Aegean that it became accessible to the general public.

Even when the agreement was still being kept secret, persons were rejected on its basis and returned to Greece. Recently, the Munich Administrative Court also expressed its opinion. Six months after the application for interim measures, which is intended to decide particularly urgent legal issues, was lodged, the court has decided to dismiss the case. And, to the surprise of many, it decided that the removal, at least in interim proceedings, was not to be criticized at this stage. Why this is wrong has been sufficiently explained in other places. All legally available means will be taken against the decision.

In the meantime, further rejections have taken place. The absolute minority of them is represented by lawyers. After being returned to Greece, they are regularly detained and have to remain there for weeks and months in often degrading conditions. Some of them are even in danger of being repatriated to Turkey - because they have entered the country via the Greek islands and have thus fallen under another agreement: the EU Turkey Deal.Equal Rights Beyond Borders has become aware of various cases, at least one of them has been sent back to Greece after the decision of the Munich Administrative Court. Together with our partners, we will defend the individual cases. And we will work to ensure that the agreement is classified as what it is: manifestly illegal.

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