16 August 2019

Court of Munich again: Turkey is not a safe third country - Is the EU Turkey Deal dead?

In March 2016, the EU-Turkey deal was concluded and presented as the solution for the European Refugee Policy. It states that all persons who enter Greece irregularly from Turkey should be returned to Turkey. The basis of this return policy is the assumption that Turkey is a so-called safe third country, which is why the readmitted persons could effectively find protection there. The Munich Administrative Court now doubts this with a decion in summary proceedings of 17 July 2019. The case: A Syrian who had already been registered in Greece was to be deported there according to the rules of the Dublin III Regulation. The Administrative Court in Munich now put a stop to this.

If the applicant would be readmitted to Greece, he would face a real risk of chain deportation to Turkey. In Turkey, in the opinion of the court, the person could in all probability not receive sufficient protection: Turkey is not a safe third country.

The proceedings were handled by Equal Rights Beyond Borders, PRO ASYL and Refugee Support Aegean.

Find our Press Release (in German) here.

Find the Decision (in German) here.

Further Reading: Legal Arguments of the Court and Procedure

The Syrian national previously applied for asylum on the island of Kos, Greece in 2018. In Greece, his application was deemed inadmissible as Turkey was considered the ‘Safe Third Country’. The applicant crossed the German-Austrian border in June 2019 to join his family. The Federal Police directly arrested him, did not take up an asylum application first and filed a "Refusal of Entry". After that, he was only able lodge an asylum application from detention. The police then issued another "Refusal of Entry", "because there are indications that the above-mentioned state is obliged by the [Dublin III Regulation] to take back the applicant."

The German Asylum Service (BAMF) did an accelerated procedure and his asylum procedure was found inadmissable again as Greece would be responsible to finish his asylum procedure. Interim measures were filed to suspend the deportation. The suspensive effect was ordered by the court, as there were "substantial indications" that the applicant would be deported from Greece to Turkey.

The Decision

It was doubtful whether Greece complied with the requirements of Art. 38 of the Asylum Procedures Directive for a "safe third country".

The court finally held, that the applicant, if returned to Greece, would likely risk chain refoulement to Turkey - and that this potential return of the applicant to Turkey conflicts with Art. 38 (1) lit. e Asylum Procedures Directive, since there are serious doubts that the temporary protection regime in Turkey is in accordance with Geneva convention.

In Turkey, Syrians can only obtain temporary protection which remains far behind the requirements of the Geneva Refugee Convention.

In principle, the applicant would have to object to this before Greek courts. However, according to the court, there were indications that asylum applications by Syrian citizens who had a connection to Turkey under Greek domestic rules were systematically not being treated in a manner compatible with the Asylum Procedures Directive.

A summary of the case can also be found in the ELENA Newsletter.

You can support our work - as a non-profit we depend on donations. To be successful in this case, countless hours of work were required. We guarantee that every donation, no matter how much, is spent on what is strictly necessary to achieve the purpose of our work.

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