QARN: We are disappointed that the Council of Europe has not spoken out publicly about the acts of violence on the Turkish-Greek border, against refugees fleeing from war.
It is not illegal to cross borders to seek protection. Turkey was threatening to return these refugees to the war zone. The Greek authorities are sanctioning the use of weapons against the refugees there and are driving them back into Turkey.
All people have a right to apply for asylum under international law. There is no basis in international refugee law for suspension of acceptance of asylum applications, and the Greek government legislating for the suspension of asylum applications and the immediate return to the country of origin or transit, is an unjustifiable derogation from the Geneva Convention and of international asylum.
At this critical time, we hope that the Council of Europe will be a vehicle for implementing the terms of the 2016 Global Compact on Refugees in our region and , in particular, the many positive pledges of assistance made at the recent Global Refugee Forum in Geneva (18 December 2019).
The people on the borders of Greece are not entering “illegally”. They are refugees seeking safety and as such are protected by international laws and Conventions. We would remind you of the resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly adopted in October 2019 in which all Council of Europe member states were urged to ‘ensure respect for the principle of non-refoulement, in particular in the context of joint or “aggregate rescue” operations, where the prohibition of refoulement cannot be collectively evaded under the obligations stemming from refugee law and the European Convention on Human Rights’. the recent letter from the President of the Greek Parliament to the Presidents of the Council of Europe and EU parliaments is in direct contravention of this decision.
We hope that you will raise this as a matter of urgency in the Council of Europe