Today in Greece an independent authority examining appeals claims ruled that Turkey was not a safe country to which refugees can be returned. The authority also ruled that a Syrian refugee, who had appealed against an earlier decision that he be returned to Turkey, should not be deported. This decision will provide the opportunity for hundreds of similar appeals by refugees in Greece. Furthermore, the ruling now means that the entire EU-Turkey deal is in jeopardy. The implications of this are enormous. Firstly, the ruling may mean that thousands of refugees from the war zones will not now be sent back. Secondly, if the EU-Turkey deal collapses, the arrangement for visa-free roaming for Turks could be cancelled, as also discussions to agree on a date for Turkey to join the EU.
(See also: Statewatch analysis re why Turkey is not a safe countty.)
The collapse of the deal will also be a severe blow to the authority of President Erdogan, who recently booted out his prime minister, took over the running of Turkey’s largest circulation newspaper, has been jailing political opponents, and has been freeing ISIS militants.
The ruling by the appeals committee was reported in the Greek press earlier today.
The ruling concerned a Syrian national who arrived on the Greek island of Lesvos. The authority ruled that Turkey is not a safe country and does not provide the full protection required under the Refugee Convention. The authority also ruled that Turkey does not guarantee the principle of non-refoulement, which forbids returning someone to a country where he or she is at risk of serious human rights violations.
The authority stated: “The committee has judged that the temporary protection which could be offered by Turkey to the applicant, as a Syrian citizen, does not offer him rights equivalent to those required by the Geneva convention.”