Jan 21, 2011
Strasbourg, France – A major pillar of the European Union’s asylum law was dealt a blow Friday as the European Court of Human Rights rebuked Belgium and Greece for following policies that led to the expulsion of an Afghan asylum seeker.
The two countries were found to have violated regulations against the inhumane treatment of a person and were ordered to pay damages of 25,900 euros (35,100 dollars), though the lion’s share – 24,900 euros – will fall upon Belgium.
According to the court, the Afghan man entered Greece and then, in 2009, reached Belgium, where he sought asylum. Belgian authorities opted to deport the man back to Greece, despite knowing that Greek facilities were already overwhelmed by asylum seekers.
By ignoring the conditions on the ground, Belgium violated rules for humane treatment of people, ruled the court. But the plaintiff has also complained about awful conditions at Greek asylum centres.
The court ruled that Greece must now review his petition ‘without delay and in accordance with human rights conventions.’ He must be allowed to stay in Greece until the review is complete.
The ruling could call into question the EU’s Dublin II Regulation, which allows EU countries to deport illegal immigrants to the first EU country they entered for a decision on their status.
Human rights activists have called for a review of the rule which, as currently used, means a large percentage of such cases currently fall upon the Mediterranean countries. Several Northern European countries have stopped deporting immigrants to Greece because of reports of crowded conditions at processing centres there.