Besorgniserregende Entwicklungen an den EU-Außengrenzen

Die Umsetzung des EU-Türkei-Deals bedeutet für die Geflüchteten auf der griechischen Insel Samos eine massive Einschränkung ihres effektiven Zugangs zum Recht. Die ohnehin komplexen Verfahren wurden noch einmal verkompliziert. Umso wichtiger ist eine unabhängige Verfahrensberatung. Neuankommende werden jedoch auf den der Türkei vorgelagerten Inseln festgehalten, auf denen eine europa- und menschenrechtskonforme Unterstützungsstruktur kaum gewährleistet werden kann – und von den Behörden aktiv verhindert wird.

Dies macht der folgende Report unserer Mitgliedsorganisation aus Berlin deutlich: Since February 2018, the Refugee Law Clinic Berlin is running a legal aid project on the Greek island of Samos. With the implementation of the EU-Turkey Deal, access to justice for refugees has become especially problematic at the European border to Turkey.

The deal has made the already complex asylum procedure even more complicated: In a preliminary admissibility procedure, refugees now have to show that Turkey is not a safe third country for them. Only after successfully doing so can they bring their substantive asylum claim regarding the situation in their country of origin. As interviews on Turkey and on asylum claims are inconsistently conducted either in separate or merged sessions, the procedure becomes very confusing to interviewees. Not aware which country to focus on in their interviews, refugees often leave out relevant information on Turkey. This leads to their asylum claims being dismissed as inadmissible – with no European agency ever examining them on their merits.

At the same time, refugees are geographically restricted to the island. The islands, however, do not provide sufficient infrastructure to support refugees during their asylum procedure. On Samos there is only a hand full of migration lawyers, who are already overworked by filing appeals for many of the currently 3,800 refugees on the island. No other independent organization continuously offered individual legal counselling on Samos. While Greek authorities give a short presentation on the asylum procedure, refugees recount that for questions they are referred to an info booth in the camp – no more than a container with a window through which questions can be asked. Due to long queues, privacy concerns and doubts about the independence of these legal information facilities, they are inadequate in every way imaginable. Hence, most refugees went into interviews without the opportunity to adequately prepare themselves for the proceedings.

Finally, living conditions in the hopelessly overcrowded camp – designed for about 700 people – are such that an adequate preparation appears challenging in any case. Refugees report having to live between rats and being afraid of TBC infections in the camp. RLC Counsellor Alice Gardoll describes the picture from outside the camp as follows:

“Tents have now spilled out into the olive grove surrounding the camp, and in this cramped environment health and safety conditions are deteriorating. In the heat of summer, Samos has become an even more difficult place for refugees to live.”

RLC counsellors can address some of these issues. They offer legal information workshops and most importantly individual counselling, where refugees have the chance to understand the asylum procedure in sufficient depth and with regard to their individual history. However, this work is time consuming and although counsellors work tirelessly to cover around 100 cases per month, this number fades in comparison to the currently 3,800 refugees on Samos.

The counsellors’ effort is made even more difficult due to the ongoing violation of the refugees’ right to have a counsellor present during the interviews (Art. 44.6 Law No. 4375). Access to the camp has – without cause or explanation – now officially been revoked for the RLC Berlin by the Reception and Identification Service (RIS) and the Greek Asylum Service (GAS) refused to let RLC counsellors accompany their clients, unless they provide a lawyers ID. Neither decision finds any basis in law.

In conclusion, Andreas Eibelshäuser, member of the coordinating team in Berlin, states:

“The implementation of hotspots at the European borders exemplifies the now increasingly common practice of isolating refugees in places where no sufficient support system can be provided. When Europe dispenses with the access to justice for only one group of people, it is gradually chipping away at one of its founding principles: the rule of law. This should worry not only those presently concerned, but every true European.”