The European Court of Justice yesterday ruled that sending a refugee back to Greece could infringe their human rights so banned the UK from doing it.
It is thought that about 90% of all asylum seekers entering the EU overland do so via Greece.
Under asylum laws (the ‘Dublin Regulation’) the asylum seeker should seek sanctuary in the first EU country that they enter. They can then be sent back there if they travel to another EU country.
But this has all been thrown into disarray be the test case involving an Afghan national known only as ‘NS’.
NS claimed asylum in Greece and ended up getting arrested according to the Mail and expelled to Turkey. NS then escaped from Turkey and made it to the UK where he claimed asylum. The UK ordered that he be returned to Greece but NS then launched a legal challenge, which he eventually won.
The EU court judges said EU member countries cannot take it for granted that other member states have adequate resources to look after asylum seekers and that they cannot be removed to another EU state if they risk being treated ‘inhumanely’.
Sonal Ghelani from Islington Law Centre, who represents NS, is quoted in the Guardian as saying: "Around 90% of people trying to get [overland] into the EU came through Greece and they couldn't cope. The UK government knew that there was a massive problem, it can't be said they were unaware. And now we know that once they are aware, they have to apply the EU fundamental charter of human rights."
Greece has therefore been designated as a country unfit country to handle asylum seekers because the all the EU countries know that Greece cannot deal with them.
That means that the other members must take up the burden.
Now one assumes that Greece is also beholden under EU law to quickly hand over all asylum seekers they have within their borders, as well as those that enter in the future, to the EU to deal with. Otherwise they could be infringing their human rights by keeping them within Greece. I await the first legal challenge on that basis from an asylum seeker in Greece.
So one further assumes that all asylum seekers will now front up in any EU country they want to and say they came in via Greece.
Gerard Batten, the UKIP MEP for London and their party Home Affairs Spokesman, told the Express “This ruling by the European Court of Justice proves once again, if further proof were needed, that our own Government is no longer in control and courts can no longer interpret the democratically enacted laws of the land.”
He also went on to point out that people can still be extradited to Greece and suffer appalling treatment as his case study showed.
“Greece is considered too dangerous for asylum seekers but not dangerous enough for British citizens to be consigned to its prisons. British courts should repudiate yesterday’s judgment.” He said “A nation that does not have power over its own laws and its own courts cannot be a free country.”
The European court however has to look at these cases with Europe in mind, not national interests. So while UK citizens vote parties into power that back our membership of the EU club then we must expect decisions like this to go against us.
But the other rich nations of the EU such as Germany and France who are themselves targets for asylum seekers should also view this judgment with disquiet.
Image by Zinneke