Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rights Ruling Stops Return of Refugees to Greece

New York Times
January 26, 2011

A closely watched human rights court case in Strasbourg has spurred several European nations to halt the forced return of asylum seekers to Greece.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled Friday that Belgium and Greece had violated the rights of an Afghan asylum seeker in expelling him to Athens. After the ruling, Denmark, Norway, Finland and, on Wednesday, Switzerland announced that they would cease returning people to Greece.

The countries had been following E.U. policy in sending migrants back to their first port of entry to the European Union to file a refugee claim, despite warnings from the U.N. refugee agency and the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner that Greece’s system was dysfunctional.

The Afghan asylum seeker, known to the court as M.S.S., said that Belgium and Greece had subjected him to degrading treatment in returning him to Athens, and that he had been denied an “effective remedy” against expulsion. The court agreed.