Council of Europe supports halt on asylum transfers

1st September 2010, Comments 0 comments

The Council of Europe gave its support on Wednesday to a proposed mechanism providing short-term relief to some European countries under pressure to accept transfers of asylum seekers.

"Under the Dublin Regulation' certain countries face the challenge of dealing with numbers of asylum applications beyond their capacities," said the Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights, Thomas Hammarberg.

He made his comments at a hearing at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in the case of an Afghan asylum seeker returned from Belgium to Greece.

"Asylum seekers in Greece continue to face enormous difficulties trying to gain access to the asylum procedure, and do not always enjoy basic safeguards such as interpretation and legal aid," he told the court.

Hammarberg added that European states under particular strain to accept asylum seekers should be given short-term relief from their responsibilities and could "seek financial or technical assistance to cope with the situation."

"Such a system could help ensure that asylum seekers are not denied their right to a full and fair determination of their asylum claims," he said.

© 2010 AFP

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