Athens, 14 January 2018
THE ASYLUM CAMPAIGN CONDEMNS THE SERIOUS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS CONCERNING THE ASYLUM CASES OF THE TURKISH MILITARY OFFICIALS
The arrest a few days ago of the Turkish refugee inside the building of the Asylum Service undoubtedly constitutes an unprecedented unlawful action against the very core of the rule of law. The Turkish refugee had been granted international protection by virtue of a decision of the Independent Appeals’ Committee and he was subsequently put in administrative detention following the issuance of an interim order by the President of the Administrative Court of Appeal of Athens suspending the aforementioned decision.
This unlawful arrest and detention is part of a series of violations committed by the Executive against the rights of the 8 Turkish military asylum seekers and refugees and lies in contravention with fundamental principles of the rule of law, namely the presumption of innocence, the principle of confidentiality, the right to liberty. They also mark the continuous slippage of the Government and of the Minister of Migration Policy into policies, obviously, of expediency at the expense of legality.
In particular, the Asylum Campaign reports with concern:
1. The unprecedented action of the Ministry of Migration Policy to submit an application for the annulment of an institution’s positive decision to grant international protection and the unacceptable political management that followed it, namely:
· The unacceptable hurry for the filing of the application at a police station (!) on a day when the public services were closed, during official holidays, which evidently does not have any legal effect and indicates consequently the anxious fulfillment of a commitment, the extent of which is not known.
· The unacceptable statement by the Minister of Migration Policy that "[...] substantial indications show that these persons have been involved in the coup d'état [...]”, expressing an estimation to which he is not entitled and which is not allowed for by his official capacity, given that the examination of the merits of an asylum application lies within the competency of the Asylum Service at first instance and of the Committees of the Appeals’ Authority at second instance. It must be noted that the legislation surely allows the Minister of Migration Policy to submit an application for annulment against a decision issued by the Appeals’ Authority Committees, which shall, nevertheless, be established only on arguments of legality (decision’s form, reasoning etc.) and never on the findings on the merits of the case. As a result, these statements, which contravene with the jurisprudence of the Supreme Civil Court, constitute an interference not only in the justice system and in the asylum procedure, but also an evident violation of the presumption of innocence protected the ECHR, the latter forming an important acquis of the developed legal systems.
· The successive public statements by top government officials consisting of estimations on the issues of their extradition and asylum, since the very arrival of the 8 Turkish asylum seekers and while the asylum and extradition procedures of their cases were still pending; these statements violated and continue to violate the presumption of innocence, the principle of confidentiality and constitute an unacceptable interference of the Executive in the judicial and asylum procedure.
· The contradictory statements by top government officials regarding the legal nature of the Appeals’ Committees, which were characterized as ‘administrative’, in view of the Minister’s application for annulment; however, their establishment – with a hastened amendment – was justified by the Minister of Migration Policy on the need for enhancement of their judicial character, which was guaranteed, according to his opinion, by the participation of two judges in their composition. The same arguments were used by the Ministry in the context of the adjudication of the applications for annulment against the regulations and administrative acts concerning the constitution and composition of the Independent Appeals’ Committees, and against the relevant administrative acts rejecting the international protection applications as inadmissible, without an in-merit examination, on the grounds of Turkey being a safe third country for the return and protection of Syrian appellant asylum seekers in Greece.  The Council of State (Supreme Administrative Court), nevertheless, judged in favor of the judicial character of the Independent Appeals’ Committees in its decisions no. 2347/2017 and 2348/2017, in contravention with its previous settled jurisprudence.