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New asylum law further undermines the situation of refugees on Greek islands

6 December 2019

According to a report published by the Greek Council for Refugees and Oxfam Novib, people who seek protection in Greece are regularly denied access to a fair and efficient asylum process. According to the report, the new law asylum law which will enter into force on 1 January 2020 could further undermine the rights of asylum seekers since it creates additional barriers to getting crucial information and legal assistance.

No rights zone

The new report ‘no rights zone’ of the Greek Council for Refugees and Oxfam Novib highlights the severe and chronic lack of lawyers and access to crucial information in the overcrowded EU ‘hotspot’ camps on the Greek islands. People are stuck in the camps with no chance of a fair asylum process. Currently, only 1 in 5 people seeking asylum in Greece have access to a state-appointed lawyer. The situation is much worse on the Greek islands, with only 2 out of 100 appeal cases getting access to free legal aid.

The situation is likely to get worse with the new asylum law entering into force on the first of January 2020 and with the announcement of the Greek government that they might replace the existing hotspots with de-facto detention centers.

Call on the Greek government and the EU

Oxfam and GCR call on the Greek government and the European Union to immediately take measures to make sure that people seeking protection in Greece have access to a fair, effective and transparent asylum procedure. Greece must fulfill its obligations under EU and national law regarding the provision of information and legal assistance to asylum seekers by allocating additional funding and hiring more lawyers, staff and interpreters.