Access To International Protection Intensifies In Greece With The Asylum Law

Athens, Nov. 1 (EFE) .- The new Greek law on political asylum introduces changes that aim to accelerate the examination of international protection demands and increase returns to Turkey and its countries of origin.

Since the signing of the joint European Union-Turkey declaration in 2016 so far, about 2,000 returns have been made. The Government led by Kyriakos Mitsotakis has promised to deport 10,000 people until the end of 2020.

Most of the changes introduced with the new law have generated harsh criticism among humanitarian and social organizations, which they believe will lead to loss of guarantees and rights for asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in Greece.


The main changes introduced by the new law are:


– It changes the definition of 'vulnerability situation' that gives priority to certain refugees to be transferred from the Aegean islands to the continent and provides them with specific services for their needs. Posttraumatic stress syndrome caused by war or a shipwreck is no longer accepted as a vulnerability.

– A provision is introduced that interprets that an asylum seeker who leaves the reception center assigned to him is waiving his request for international protection, so that his case would not be examined.

– All asylum claims filed before July 20, 2016 that are still pending resolution are rejected. They will only be examined if the complainants again show their interest in receiving international protection within 6 months.

– For the first time a list of 'safe third countries' will be created in Greece. Since the Geneva Convention of 1951 when a person leaves his country to request asylum in another, this country can refuse and refer it to a third state that considers it can give it 'effective protection'. Different NGOs have denounced that the new Greek law speaks of 'adequate protection', a term that is not defined or analyzed as 'effective protection'.

– In periods of 'mass arrivals' – which the law does not define – the first examination of a claim for international protection is allowed to be carried out by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), the Police or the Armed Forces instead of only for the service of asylum helen, as it was done until now.

– From now on a plaintiff who has been denied his application in the first instance is no longer protected against deportation, even if he has filed an appeal.


– Until now when a person applied for asylum he had freedom of movement in the Greek territory (with the exception of the Aegean Islands), but the law introduces the possibility of detaining a person even if he has already demanded protection.

– The maximum duration of an administrative detention of an asylum seeker extends from the current 3 months to 18.

– The decision to prolong the detention of an asylum seeker is taken from now on by the Police. Until now, a report from the Asylum Service was required detailing the reasons for imposing this extraordinary measure.

– Asylum seekers can be locked up with people who have violated the Criminal Code. The previous law prohibited it.


– An applicant for international protection must wait 6 months to enter the labor market. The previous law allowed immediate access.

– Once someone obtains refugee status they have dps months to leave the reception center and get their own accommodation. Until now I was half a year old.

– Asylum seekers only have access to emergency hospital services. Chronic patients cannot go to public service.

– Gives a one-year renewable residence permit to the beneficiaries of 'subsidiary protection' (protection granted to those who do not meet the requirements to be refugees but have well-founded reasons to believe that if they returned to their country of origin they would face damage serious), while until now the permit lasted three years, just like that of refugees.