Belgian court halts deport of Iraqi asylum-seeker to Greece

18th April 2008, Comments 0 comments

The first-ever ruling aims to lead the way in creating a common European asylum policy against Greece’s unfair treatment of refugees.

18 April 2008

BRUSSELS - In a ruling likely to impact on talks on the creation of a common European asylum policy, a court in Belgium has stopped the government from sending an Iraqi asylum-seeker to Greece because of the country's unfair treatment of refugees, daily De Morgen reported Thursday.

The ruling, the first of its kind in Belgium, was greeted positively by the head of the Belgian immigration office, Freddy Roosemont, who said the judge "was right".

According to existing European Union rules, applicants who are refused asylum can be sent back to the place in which they first entered the EU - in this case Greece.

But Greece has come under intense criticism from UN agencies and human rights groups such as Amnesty International for its poor treatment of refugees, which it hosts in overcrowded detention centres.

Greece is often the EU point of entry for Iraqi or Afghan refugees. But the government did not accept a single asylum-seeker in 2007.

Earlier this month, the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) called on the EU to halt the deportation of refugees to Greece on the grounds that Greece is not a safe place for those in need of protection.

Plans for a common EU asylum policy were expected to be discussed by EU justice and home affairs ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Friday.

[dpa / Expatica]

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