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Greece’s legal system on asylum is based on the Geneva Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol, and on European Union (EU) legislation on the Common European Asylum System.  In 2011, the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the EU found that Greece’s asylum system suffers from “systemic deficiencies,” including lack of reception centers, poor detention conditions, and the lack of an effective remedy.  Greece adopted two action plans and legislation to address the problems.  Significant gaps still remain, as exposed by the extraordinary migrant crisis of 2015 and as noted by the European Commission, which monitors closely Greece’s compliance with EU asylum standards.

Greece has experienced the brunt of migratory flows during the refugee crisis due to its geographical location and as first country of entry pursuant to the Dublin Regulation.  The crisis has also jeopardized the functioning of Schengen, a free area of movement and travel, as some EU countries have re-imposed border controls.  Other Schengen Member States are considering reintroducing border controls if Greece fails to control the current migratory flow.  Two relocation plans to transfer 66,000 refugees from Greece to other EU Member States are slowly being implemented.  The European Commission has recommended a number of remedial measures for Greece, including efficient border management and implementation of the “hotspot” areas for the proper registration and fingerprinting of migrants.  

I.  Introduction

Greece, as a state party to the Geneva Convention on Refugees of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol,[1] is bound to adhere to the fundamental asylum-law principle of nonrefoulement[2] and thus to provide asylum to those who meet the criteria.[3]  In addition, as a Member State of the European Union (EU) and the Schengen area, Greece is required to comply with the directives and regulations that constitute the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and the Schengen Borders Code, which requires that the external borders be secured.[4]  Greece is also obliged to respect the binding Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which recognizes the right to asylum.[5]

Following two critical decisions issued in 2011 by the European Court of Human Rights[6] and the Court of Justice of the European Union,[7] which concluded that Greece’s asylum system suffers from “systemic deficiencies,” Greece has made a concerted effort to comprehensively reform its asylum system, taking such steps as establishing new reception centers, improving poor reception conditions (including conditions for those in detention), fingerprinting irregular migrants and asylum applicants, ensuring appropriate treatment of unaccompanied minors, and ensuring access to an effective remedy against a negative decision.

Greece has always experienced a large number of migrants attempting to enter the EU illegally due to its geographic location[8] and because it is a first country of entry pursuant to Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013 (the Dublin Regulation).[9]  The unprecedented migratory flow of 2015 combined with a shift in the migration route coming to Greece from Turkey dramatically tested Greece’s already weakened asylum system and brought to the forefront Greece’s incapacity to handle the dramatic increase of migrants, fingerprint and register them properly, and return to their country of origin economic migrants who crossed Greece’s borders illegally.  The EU adopted two decisions in 2015[10] to relocate at least 66,400 persons from Greece to other Member States over a period of two years.[11]  Implementation of the relocation plan is moving slowly, mainly due to resistance from other EU Member States.[12]

Greece’s progress in raising its asylum regime up to EU and Council of Europe standards is being monitored by a number of institutions and bodies—first, by the European Commission, which, as the EU’s enforcement body, has instituted several infringement proceedings against Greece for failing to transpose two directives;[13] for maintaining insufficient reception facilities; and for poor reception conditions, especially those for vulnerable groups including children.[14]  The Commission also follows closely the implementation of its recommendations.  In February 2016, the Commission adopted the Schengen Evaluation Report on Greece and suggested a number of recommendations to address deficiencies in external border management.[15]  In addition, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which supervises implementation of European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decisions, monitors Greece’s implementation of the decisions of the ECHR.[16]  Finally the regional office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in compliance with its mandate arising from the Geneva Convention, tracks the general implementation of obligations arising from the Convention.[17]

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II.  Legal Framework and Government Actions

A.  Government Measures

The Greek Ministry of Public Order and Citizen Protection has submitted two plans to the European Commission and the Council of the EU as part of its efforts to tackle the issues related to asylum, including creating first-reception centers, establishing screening procedures, addressing detention conditions, and improving facilities for families with children and for vulnerable groups.  The first Plan, submitted in 2010, failed to produce a successful outcome, except that it prompted the adoption of the Law 3907/2011, which led to the creation of much-needed services.  That law created an Asylum Service, composed of a Central Office located in Athens and regional asylum offices, a First Reception Service, and an Appeals Authority.[18]  A revised Action Plan on Asylum and Migration Management was presented to the European Commission in January 2013.[19]  The revised plan was based on two salient components: (a) to effectively ensure access to international protection through the opening of new reception centers, and (b) to establish an effective system of border management and returns.

B.  2013 Procedure for Granting International Protection

As of June 2013, applications for international protection fall within a new procedure established by Presidential Decree 113/2013. [20]  Every foreigner or stateless person has the right to submit an application for international protection, provided that he or she meets the criteria of the Geneva Convention and applicable national law or qualifies for subsidiary protection. [21]  The competent national authorities of first reception are obliged to inform the applicants of such rights.

Decisions are made by the Asylum Service on a case-by-case basis; the review is required to be an objective, unbiased, and nondiscriminatory review of the facts.  When the application is filed by an unaccompanied minor, then the appropriate authorities must appoint a guardian, in accordance with Presidential Decree 220/2007.[22]  

The Asylum Service is composed of the Central Asylum Service, whose role is to supervise and monitor the process of registration and overall progress, or the lack thereof, of applications for international protection,  and by the regional asylum offices which  are in charge of registering and fingerprinting applicants.  There are eleven regional asylum offices in Greece (seven regional offices and four mobile asylum units).[23]  The largest regional office, which started operations in June 2013, is in Attica.  Other regional offices began operations in 2014 and 2015 to accommodate the ever-increasing number of refugees.  In addition, a new asylum office was established on the Island of Samos.[24]

Applicants have the right to stay in Greece during the application process.  Applicants may not be detained solely because they requested international protection.  Detention of minors is generally not allowed, although minors who have been separated from their family or unaccompanied minors are kept in detention until their relatives are located, or until they are housed in appropriate facilities.[25]  Legal aid is provided to those applicants who need it, in accordance with Law No. 3226/2004.[26]  The decisions on granting or withdrawing international protection are forwarded to the local office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).[27]  The local office has the right to request additional information.  Greek authorities must provide to the UNHCR all statistical data requested on the condition of refugees and on implementation of the Geneva Convention, as well as all existing legislation on refugees, in compliance with article 35, paragraph 2 of the Convention.[28]  

1.  First Instance

Law 3907/2011 established the Asylum Service as the competent state authority to examine applications for international protection in the first instance.  The Review Authorities examine the applications for international protection following either a regular or accelerated procedure.  During the review, the applications of the following categories of persons have priority: (a) vulnerable persons, (b) those in detention or in transit, (c) persons whose applications are prima facie substantiated, (d) those whose applications are manifestly unfounded, and (e) persons who are deemed by the police in substantiated decisions to be a danger to national security and public order.[29]

2.  Accelerated Procedures

Accelerated procedures are applied to people who (a) come from a safe country of origin, (b) have submitted manifestly unfounded applications, (c) have presented false information or documents, or (d) made another asylum application in another Member State with different personal data.[30]  Applications must be reviewed within six months.[31]  Applicants are subject to personal interviews through interpreters by staff who have experience in such matters and who are expected to maintain confidentiality.[32] 

Greece recognizes as safe countries of origin those third countries where (a) there is no threat to life or freedom based on religion, race, ethnicity, participation in a particular social group, or political convictions; (b) there is no danger to the life of the applicant; and (c) the nonrefoulement principle of the Geneva Convention is followed.[33]  Applications filed by nationals of safe countries of origin are fast-tracked and such persons are sent back to their countries of origin.

3.  Border Procedure

If applicants apply at the border, they have the right to be informed of their rights, including the right to an interpreter and the right to consult a lawyer at their own expense.  If no decision is made within twenty-eight days from the day of their application, they have the right to enter Greece in order to have their case reviewed.[34]

4.  Detention

Pursuant to Decree 113/2013, an applicant in need of international protection or a stateless person must not be kept in detention for the sole reason that the person applied for international protection and entered the country illegally.[35]  A person may be kept in detention until his/her documentation is confirmed or in case the person is deemed to be a danger to the public or to national security.[36]  No one can be detained for more than three months.[37]  The Greek government has closed some of the detention facilities that had extremely bad conditions.

5.  Right to Appeal

The applicant has the right to appeal to the examining authorities a decision that denies international protection or rejects an accelerated procedure.[38]  The Appeals Authority is a body within the Ministry of Public Order and Citizens’ Protection established by Law 3907/2011.  It is staffed by civil servants and headed by a Director who is under the supervision of the Minister of Public Order and Citizens’ Protection.  The Authority is mandated to facilitate the work of the appeals committees, which examine asylum cases on appeal.  The rules of procedure of the Appeals Authority are set forth in Ministerial Decision 334/2014.[39]  

Since September 2015, when the mandate of the Appeals Committees expired, persons have been able to file appeals against first-instance negative decisions, but such applications cannot be processed.  Therefore, there is currently no functioning system for an effective remedy.  As the Commission noted, the lack of an appeal undermines the effective implementation of the relocation procedure, in which an applicant submits an appeal against a relocation or transfer decision.[40]

6.  Reception Conditions

In 2015, Greece undertook the responsibility to create additional reception capacity for 30,000 people, provide rent subsidies to those asylum seekers who could not be accommodated in reception centers, and host an additional 20,000 families with the assistance of the UNHCR.[41]  In its 2016 Recommendation the Commission acknowledged that improvements have been made concerning the increase in capacity of reception centers, but stated that reception capacity is still “insufficient.”[42]  The Commission also urged Greece to ensure that the reception conditions in both open and closed reception accommodations, and access to health care, are comparable to the standards laid down by Directive 2013/33/EU.  It recommended that Greece ensure that reception facilities are sufficiently staffed to handle refugees[43] and added that maintenance of the reception conditions should be funded either from the national budget or EU funds, if possible.[44]

C.    Criteria for Recognition of Refugees and Those Eligible for Subsidiary Protection

Presidential Decree 141/2013[45] transposed the provisions of Directive 2011/95/EC, which determines the standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons who qualify as refugees or are eligible for subsidiary protection.[46]  Refugee status is given to a third-country national or a stateless person who meets the criteria established by Presidential Decree 141/2013.[47]

1.  Criteria for Refugee Status

To be granted refugee status, an applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • The applicant must face a well-founded fear of persecution within the meaning of article 1A of the Geneva Convention.
  • The grounds for persecution must be related to the applicant’s race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
  • A causal link must exist between the well-founded fear of persecution on the grounds of one’s race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group and the acts of persecution.
  • The acts of persecution may take a variety of forms, such as physical or mental violence, including sexual violence, and in the case of a minor may also include acts of a gender-specific or child-specific nature.[48]

2.  Subsidiary Protection Status

In order to be granted subsidiary protection status, there must be substantial grounds to believe that an applicant who does not otherwise qualify for refugee status would face a real risk of suffering serious harm if returned to his/her country of origin.  The qualification for subsidiary protection from a “real risk of suffering serious harm” includes the death penalty or execution, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or a serious and individualized threat to persons due to violence in the case of internal armed conflict.[49]

The applicant must provide information pertaining to his/her age, background, country of origin, relatives, travel documents (if any), and reasons for applying for international protection.  Each application is examined individually.[50]

D.  Rights of Refugees and Beneficiaries of Subsidiary Protection

Greek law grants a number of rights and benefits to persons granted refugee status or subsidiary protection.

1.  Family Unity

Greek asylum authorities are required to ensure the family unity of those who are recognized as refugees or beneficiaries of subsidiary protection.  The families of such persons acquire the same status as the applicant, unless they do not wish to have such status.[51]

2.  Residence Permit

Those who have been recognized as refugees or beneficiaries of secondary international protection are granted a residence permit for three years, which is renewable at the request of the person concerned,[52] except for those who pose a threat to national security or to public safety due to conviction for an especially serious crime.[53]  The family members of refugees or beneficiaries of international protection are also granted a residence permit.  Issuance and renewal of residence permits are subject to the same rules.[54]

3.  Travel Documents

Recognized refugees are given travel documents to be able to travel abroad pursuant to the sample contained in the Annex of the Geneva Convention, unless reasons exist for banning the travel of the person concerned.[55]  The passport is granted by the Passport Office of the Greek Police and the required documents, duration, and renewal are determined by Law 3103/2003.[56]

4.  Education

Minors who have been recognized as refugees must have access to education.  In addition, adults have access to educational training and development under the same terms and conditions as nationals.[57]

5.  Social Welfare

Beneficiaries of international protection have access to social welfare under the same conditions as nationals.[58]

6.  Access to Employment

Those who are recognized as persons in need of international protection have access to employment, either salaried or independent, pursuant to Presidential Decree 189/1998.[59]  The existing legislation on remuneration, terms of employment, training, and educational opportunities also apply to those who have been recognized as refugees.[60]  In practice, asylum seekers face a stark reality in Greece with regard to access to the labor market, due to the economic crisis and the overall absence of available job opportunities.  As of November 2015, the unemployment rate in Greece was 24.6% overall, and 48% for young persons under twenty-five years of age.  In both instances, Greece has the the highest unemployment rate in the EU.[61]

7.  Health Care

Recognized refugees or persons with subsidiary protection status have the right to health care on the same basis and conditions as nationals.[62]  Those who have special needs, such as pregnant women, the elderly, unaccompanied children, people who have been subject to torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment, or persons with disabilities, as well as trafficking victims and those who come from conflict areas, are entitled to sufficient medical care, including psychological care and support, under the same conditions as nationals.[63]  Presidential Decree 220/2007 provides for free healthcare services for all asylum seekers regardless of whether they are hosted in the reception facilities or not.  However, access is conditioned depending on the economic status of the asylum seekers.  In the case of asylum seekers with disabilities, a monthly allowance is granted subject to Health Committee approval.[64]

8.  Unaccompanied Minors

Unaccompanied minors are provided with extra care and protection by the appropriate Greek authorities.  Greece has allocated 402 reception facilities to accommodate unaccompanied minors.[65]  A joint ministerial decision, which was adopted in February 2016, provides the procedure to determine whether an applicant is a minor.[66]  A guardian or a representative is appointed to represent the interests of the child and accommodations are provided either with family members, foster families, or special hospitality centers for minors.[67]  The European Commission’s 2016 Recommendation to the Greek government asserted that the current guardianship system is problematic, since public prosecutors are appointed to represent minors and do not have appropriate resources to handle the large number of minors who need a guardian.  The Commission also noted the lack of a guardianship system within the Greek legal system to enable prosecutors to appoint permanent guardians.[68]

9.  Repatriation

The appropriate Greek authorities are required to provide assistance to those refugees and those who possess subsidiary protection to return to their countries of origin, if they so wish.[69]

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III.  Schengen Implications

At the peak of the migrant crisis in 2015, a number of EU Members resorted to re-imposing internal border controls to curb the number of migrants entering their country.  Under the Schengen Borders Code, such measures are allowed temporarily.[70]  However, the border controls adversely affected the free movement of persons and endangered the entire Schengen system.

In November 2015, the Commission, using its authority under the Schengen evaluation mechanism,[71] sent a team of experts to make an unannounced onsite evaluation visit to Greek sea-border sites (Chios and Samos Islands) and some land-border sites, to examine the functioning and application of Schengen rules by Greece.  The resulting Schengen Evaluation Report prepared by the Commission on February 2, 2016, acknowledged the efforts made and the measures taken by the Greek government to handle the migrant crisis, but stated that “the overall functioning of the Schengen area is at serious risk” and made a number of recommendations to ensure that Greece exercises effective control of its external borders, in accordance with Schengen rules.[72]

The Evaluation Report identified several deficiencies with Greece’s asylum system concerning the registration procedure, surveillance of sea borders, border-check procedures, human resources and training, and infrastructure and equipment.[73]  With regard to registration procedures, the Commission recommended that Greece take, inter alia, the following measures:

  • Improve the quality of the “temporary stay” documents by inserting security features to make it difficult for migrants to falsify documents
  • Increase the staff of the Hellenic Police responsible for registration
  • Provide the necessary accommodation facilities during the registration process and a sufficient number of fingerprinting scanners to ensure fingerprints of all irregular migrants, pursuant to the Eurodac Regulation[74]

As far as border surveillance, the Report recommended that Greece improve its border surveillance between Greece and Turkey to enable it to detect all vessels in order to apprehend persons who cross illegally.[75]

Greece is required to draft an action plan to address the deficiencies cited in the Commission’s report, forward this plan to the Commission and the Council, and report back on implementation of the plan.[76]

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IV.  Case Law on Asylum System

A.  M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece

The case of M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece involved living conditions in reception centers in Greece.[77]  An Afghan national entered the EU through Greece and then went to Belgium where he applied for asylum.  On the basis of the Dublin Regulation he was sent back to Greece as the first country of entry into the EU, where he was kept in detention in a small room with twenty other detainees with limited access to restroom facilities.  In 2011, the Grand Chamber of the ECHR held that both Belgium and Greece had violated the European Convention on Human Rights.  It held that Belgium infringed article 3 of the Convention, first, by exposing the applicant to the risks arising from the deficiencies in the asylum procedure in Greece, since the Belgian authorities knew or ought to have known that the applicant had no guarantee that his asylum application would be seriously examined by the Greek authorities, and second, by knowingly exposing him to detention and living conditions that amounted to degrading treatment.[78]  The Court also found that Greece violated article 3, as well as article 13 of the Convention on the right to an effective remedy, because of the harsh living conditions and inadequate asylum procedures in the country.[79] 

B.  N.S. v. Secretary of State for the Home Department

In N.S. v. Secretary of State for the Home Department,[80] N.S., an Afghan national, was arrested in Greece on September 24, 2008, and placed in detention for entering Greece illegally.  He was ordered to leave Greece within thirty days and was subsequently expelled to Turkey.  He escaped from Turkey and went to the United Kingdom, where he claimed asylum.  N.S. was informed that, in accordance with the requirements under Regulation No. 343/2003, he was to be transferred to Greece on August 6, 2009.  He challenged that decision.

The case came before the Court of Justice of the European Union and was joined with a similar case (Case C-493/10) involving five asylum seekers in Ireland who opposed being transferred to Greece for examination of their asylum applications.  All of the claimants traveled through Greece and were arrested there for illegal entry. They left Greece without applying for asylum and traveled to Ireland, where they applied for asylum.[81]

The Court held that EU law precludes the Member States from making a “conclusive presumption” that the Member State responsible for reviewing an asylum application, in accordance with Dublin rules, observes the fundamental rights of the European Union. [82] It stated that under article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Member States may not transfer an asylum seeker to the “Member State responsible” within the meaning of the Dublin Regulation where they are aware of systemic deficiencies in the asylum procedure and the reception conditions such that the asylum seeker would face a real risk of being subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment.[83]

As a result of these cases, EU Member States suspended transfers to Greece under the Dublin Regulation.[84]

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V.  EU Funding on Asylum

At the request of Greece, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) has provided financial assistance and deployed Asylum Support Teams to Greece to establish new asylum services and to assist with the reception of vulnerable persons.[85]  Due to an increased number of migrants entering the EU through Greece, Greece made a further request to the EASO for Special Support, and support will be provided until the end of May 2016.[86]

The Commission has allocated a large amount of European Union funding for the period 2014–2020 to assist Greece with implementation of national measures in the field of asylum and migration.  The Commission, through the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, provided a total of €294.5 million (about US$328 million) to Greece, and under the Internal Security Fund – Borders and Visas a total of another €214.8 million (about US$240 million).  A further €133 million (about US$149 million) has been awarded to Greece as emergency assistance since 2014.  In addition, significant funding was provided to Greece under the European Refugee Fund in the years 2008–2013, including emergency funding of more than €50.6 million (about US$56.5 million).[87]

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VI.  Pending  Issues

A.  Hot Spots

One of the requirements imposed on Greece by the Commission was the construction of “hot spot” registration centers in order to ensure the proper registration and identification of migrants before their transfer to relocation areas with the objective of transferring them to other countries within the EU or returning them to their countries of origin.  In October 2015, Greece presented a Roadmap to the Council of the EU regarding its plan to implement the hot spots.  In January 2016, the government announced that the hot-spot areas in the islands of Lesvos (extension to a pre-existing center), Leros, Chios, and Samos would be completed sometime in spring 2016.  The Greek army has been mobilized to ensure the hot spots are completed.[88] 

Greece is required to ensure full registration of all migrants entering illegally.  Greece has made significant improvements in this regard, increasing the fingerprinting rate from 8% in September 2015 to 78% in January 2016.  The EASO has been assisting Greece with ordering twenty-five fingerprinting stations for hotspot locations, and an additional sixty-five fingerprinting stations will be ordered soon. Meanwhile, the Greek Police have set up six fingerprinting stations in Lesvos. [89]

B.  Planning for Resumption of Dublin Transfers

Since 2011, Dublin transfers to Greece, as the first country of origin, were suspended by EU Member States because of the systemic deficiencies in its asylum system identified in the court decisions discussed in section IV above.[90]  To ensure that the Common European Asylum System applies properly, on February 10, 2016, the Commission urged Greece to take additional measures to enable the eventual resumption of Dublin transfers, including bringing the reception conditions up to EU standards, ensuring effective access to the asylum procedures throughout Greece, resuming the operation of appeal committees, and making fully operational all 50,000 reception locations that Greece has committed to open.[91]

C.  Return of Illegal Migrants

The Commission has urged Greece to comply fully with the Returns Directive in order to ensure the return of those who do not qualify for international protection back to their country of origin.  In this regard, the Commission advised Greece to utilize the maximum allowed detention of eighteen months to avoid a situation where detention ends before migrants are effectively returned.[92]  The EU has financed an emergency forced return program under the Asylum Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), implementation of which has been entrusted to the Greek police.[93]  Another program financed by the AMIF is the emergency Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) program, which provides the possibility to a total of 1,000 migrants to return voluntarily to their countries of origins.[94]

D.  Control of Borders

The Schengen system is based on the premise that the external borders of the EU must be secure in order to ensure an area free of internal border controls.  The Commission has urged Greece, as a member of the Schengen area, to ensure the security of its external borders, especially the border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia where 32,000 migrants have camped outside of Idomeni.[95]  Frontex, the EU’s external borders agency, will provide assistance to Greece in its efforts to accommodate the migrants at the Idomeni camp and secure its border.[96]

E.  Agreement with Turkey

On March 7, 2016, the European Council, composed of heads of state and governments, brokered a provisional deal with Turkey regarding the migratory flow from Turkey to Greece.[97]  Some key highlights of the agreement, which have a direct impact on Greece, include

  • the return of all new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into the Greek islands, with the costs covered by the EU; and
  • resettlement, for every Syrian readmitted by Turkey from the Greek islands, of another Syrian from Turkey to the EU Member States, within the framework of the existing commitments.[98]

The UN Refugee Agency has cast doubt over the legality of the plan, on the grounds that return of migrants to Turkey would amount to collective expulsions, which are prohibited under international and EU law.[99]

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Prepared by Theresa Papademetriou
Senior Foreign Law Specialist
March 2016

[1] Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, July 28, 1951, 189 U.N.T.S. 137, Publication/UNTS/Volume%20189/v189.pdf, archived at; Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, Jan. 31, 1967, 606 U.N.T.S. 267, archived at

[2] The nonrefoulement principle is incorporated into EU primary law in article 78 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which provides for a Common European Asylum System.  Consolidated Version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, 2012 O.J. (C 326) 47, PDF/?uri=CELEX:12012E/TXT&from=EN, archived at

[3] Law No. 3989/1959, Ephemeris tes Kyverneseos tes Hellenikes Demokratias [E.K.E.D.] 1959, A:201, (in Greek), archived at  The 1967 Protocol was ratified by Compulsory Law No. 389/1968, E.K.E.D. 1968, A:125, php/2013-01-28-14-06-23/search-laws (in Greek), archived at

[4] Regulation (EC) No. 562/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 Establishing a Community Code on the Rules Governing the Movement of Persons Across Borders (Schengen Borders Code), as amended, 2006 O.J. (L 105) 1,, archived at

[5] Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, 2012 O.J. (C 326) 391,, archived at

[6] M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece, App. No. 30696/09 (Eur. Ct. H.R. Jan. 21, 2011), (scroll down and click PDF file), archived at

[8] As of February 25, 2016, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated that close to one million migrants had arrived in Greece since January 2015, and that of this number 120,369 migrants had reached Greece during the first two months of 2016.  Press Release, IOM, Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals in 2016 Near 130,000; Deaths Reach 418 (Mar. 1, 2016),, archived at

[9] Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 Establishing the Criteria and Mechanisms for Determining the Member State Responsible for Examining an Application for International Protection Lodged in One of the Member States by a Third-Country National or a Stateless Person, as amended, 2013 O.J. (L 180) 31,, archived at

[10] Council Decision (EU) 2015/1601 of 22 September 2015 Establishing Provisional Measures in the Area of International Protection for the Benefit of Italy and Greece, 2015 O.J. (L 248) 80,, archived at

[11] Council Decision (EU) 2015/1523 of 14 September 2015 Establishing Provisional Measures in the Area of International Protection for the Benefit of Italy and of Greece, 2015 O.J. (L 239) 146,, archived at

[12] As of February 8, 2016, only 218 people had been relocated from Greece, and 279 from Italy.  Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the State of  Implementation of the Priority Actions under the European Agenda on Migration, at 11, COM(2016) 85 final (Feb. 10, 2016),, archived at

[13] Greece has not transposed the following two directives regarding asylum: Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on Common Procedures for Granting and Withdrawing International Protection (Recast), 2013 O.J. (L 180) 60, 13L0032, archived at; and Directive 2013/33/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 Laying Down Standards for the Reception of Applicants for International Protection (Recast), 2013 O.J. (L 180) 96, 0116:EN:PDF, archived at

[14] Commission Recommendation of 2/10/2016 Addressed to the Hellenic Republic on the Urgent Measures to Be Taken by Greece in View of the Resumption of Transfers Under Regulation 604/2013, C(2016) 871 final (Feb. 10, 2016), 0210_en.pdf, archived at

[15] Press Release IP/16/211, European Commission, Commission Adopts Schengen Evaluation Report on Greece and Proposes Recommendations to Address Deficiencies in External Border Management (Feb. 16, 2016),, archived at

[16] Council of Europe, Council of Ministers, 1243rd Meeting Item H46-8, M.S.S. and Rahimi Groups v. Greece (App. Nos. 30696/09, 8687/08), Supervision of the Execution of the Court’s Judgments (Dec. 8–9, 2015), Site=&BackColorInternet=B9BDEE&BackColorIntranet=FFCD4F&BackColorLogged=FFC679, archived at

[17] UNHCR, Building on the Lessons Learned to Make the Relocation Schemes Work More Effectively: UNHCR’s Recommendations (Jan. 2016),, archived at also, UNHCR, “Greece as a Country of Asylum”: UNHCR’s Recommendations (Apr. 6, 2015), http://www.asylum, archived at  In its December 2014 report the UNHCR noted that the Greek asylum system still had deficiencies and recommended that other countries not send refugees to Greece for asylum registration.  UNHCR, Greece as a Country of Asylum: UNHCR Observations on the Current Asylum System in Greece 37 (Dec. 2014),, archived at

[18] Law No. 3907/2011 on Establishing an Asylum Service, First Line Reception Office, and Harmonization with Directive 2008/115/EC on Common Standards and Procedures for the Return of Illegally Staying Third-Country Nationals and Other Provisions arts. 1, 6, 7, E.K.E.D., Jan. 26, 2011, A:7, (in Greek), archived at

[19] Ministry of Public Order and Citizen Protection, Greek Action Plan on Asylum and Migration Management, Executive Summary (Dec. 2012),‌documents/libe/dv/p4_exec_summary_/p4_exec_summary_en.pdf, archived at

[20] Presidential Decree No. 113/2013 on the Establishment of a Common Procedure for Identifying the Refugee Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons or Subsidiary Protection in Compliance with Directive 2005/85/EC and Other Provisions, E.K.E.D., June 13, 2013, A:146, (in Greek), archived at

[21] Id. art. 4.

[22] Presidential Decree No. 220/2007, art. 19, para. 1, E.K.E.D., Nov. 13, 2007, A:251, php/2013-01-28-14-06-23/search-laws (in Greek), archived at

[23] Asylum Service, Ministry of Interior and Administrative Organization, (in Greek; last visited Mar. 11, 2016), archived at

[24] Commission Recommendation of 2/10/2016, supra note 14, pmbl. para. 16.

[25] Presidential Decree No. 113/2013, art. 12.

[26] Law No. 3226/2004, E.K.E.D., Feb. 4, 2004, Α:24, (in Greek), archived at

[27] Presidential Decree No. 113/2013, art. 14.

[28] Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, supra note 1, art. 35(2).

[29] Law 3907/2011, arts.  1-3. 

[30] Presidential Decree 113/2013, art. 16, para. 4.

[31] Id. art. 16, para. 1.

[32] Id. art. 17, paras. 1 & 5. 

[33] Id. art. 20.

[34] Id, art. 24.

[35] Id. art. 12, para. 1.   

[36] Id. art. 12, para. 2(a) & (b).

[37] Id. art. 12, para. 6.

[38] Id. art. 25, para. 1.

[39] Ministerial Decision No. 334/2014 on the Rules of Procedure of the Appeals Authority, E.K.E.D., Jan. 16, 2014, B:63, (in Greek), archived at

[40] Commission Recommendation of 2/10/2016, supra note 14, pmbl. para. 18.

[41] Id., pmbl. para. 12.  See also Press Release, European Commission, European Commission and UNHCR Launch Scheme to Provide 20,000 Reception Places for Asylum Seekers in Greece (Dec. 15, 2015), press-release_IP-15-6316_en.htm, archived at

[42] Commission Recommendation of 2/10/2016, supra note 14, pmbl. para. 17.

[43] Id., pmbl. para. 17 & Recommendation para. 1.

[44] Id., pmbl. para. 17.

[45] Presidential Decree No. 141/2013, E.D.E.K., Oct. 21, 2013, A:226, (in Greek), archived at

[46] Directive 2011/95/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on Standards for the Qualification of Third-Country Nationals or Stateless Persons as Beneficiaries of International Protection, for a Uniform Status for Refugees or for Persons Eligible for Subsidiary Protection, and for the Content of the Protection Granted, 2011 O.J. (L 337) 9,, archived at

[47] Presidential Decree No. 141/2013, art. 12, paras. 1 & 2.

[48] Id. arts. 9 & 10. 

[49] Id. art. 15.

[50] Id. art. 4.

[51] Id. art. 23, paras. 1 & 2(a).

[52] Id. art. 24.

[53] Id. art. 21, para. 2.

[54] Id. art. 23, para. 4.

[55] Id. art. 25.

[56] Law No. 3103/2003, E.K.E.D. Dec. 2, 1992, A:194, art. 1, para. 3, (in Greek), archived at

[57] Presidential Decree No. 141/2013, art. 28.

[58] Id. art. 29.

[59] Presidential Decree No. 189/1998, E.K.E.D., June 25, 1998, A:180, (in Greek), archived at

[60] Presidential Decree No. 141/2013, art. 27.

[62] Presidential Decree No. 141/2013, art. 31.

[63] Id. art. 31, para. 2.

[64] Presidential Decree No. 220/2007, art. 12.

[65] Secretariat of the Committee of Ministers, Communication from the Authorities (02/09/2016) Concerning the Case of M.S.S. Against Greece (Application 030696/09), DH-DD (2016)182 (Feb. 23, 2016), com.instranet.InstraServlet?command=com.instranet.CmdBlobGet&InstranetImage=2892073&SecMode=1&DocId=2360486&Usage=2, archived at

[66] Joint Ministerial Decision of the Interior, Administrative Reorganization, and Health, No. 1982/2016, on Determining Whether an Applicant is a Minor, B:335 (Feb. 16, 2016), (in Greek), archived at

[67] Presidential Decree No. 141/2013, art. 35.

[68] Commission Recommendation of 2/10/2016, supra note 14, pmbl. para. 21.

[69] Presidential Decree No. 141/2013, art. 36.

[70] Regulation (EU) No. 1051/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2013 Amending Regulation (EC) No. 562/2006 in Order to Provide for Common Rules on the Temporary Reintroduction of Border Control at Internal Borders in Exceptional Circumstances, 2013 O.J. (L 295) 1,, archived at

7[1] Council Regulation (EU) No. 1053/2013 of 7 October 2013 Establishing an Evaluation and Monitoring Mechanism to Verify the Application of the Schengen Acquis and Repealing the Decision of the Executive Committee of 16 September 1998 Setting up a Standing Committee on the Evaluation and Implementation of Schengen, art. 4, 2013 O.J. (L 295) 27, 295:0027:0037:EN:PDF, archived at

[72] Council Implementing Decision Setting Out a Recommendation on Addressing the Serious Deficiencies Identified in the 2015 Evaluation on the Application of the Schengen Acquis in the Field of Management of the External Borders by Greece, Doc. No. 5985/16, Interinstitutional File No. 2016/0035 (NLE) (Feb. 12, 2016), http://data., archived at

[73] Id., pmbl., para. 6.

[74] Id., Recommendations, paras. 3–5.

[75] Id. para. 12.

[76] Id., pmbl., para. 8.

[77]M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece, App. No. 30696/09 (Eur. Ct. H.R., Jan. 21, 2011), http://www.asylumlaw (scroll down and click PDF file), archived at

[78] Id. paras. 358, 360, 367. 

[79] Id.

[81] Id. paras. 51–52.

[82] Id. paras. 103–104.

[83] Id. para. 106.

[84] Commission Recommendation of 2/10/2016, supra note 14, at 1.

[85] Commission Recommendation of 2/10/2016, supra note 14, pmbl. para. 8.

[86] Press Release, IOM, supra note 8.

[87] Commission Recommendation of 2/10/2016, supra note 14, Recommendations, para. 8.

[88] ANNEX to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the State of Play of Implementation of the Priority Actions Under the European Agenda on Migration Greece – State of Play Report, COM (2016) 85 final, Annex 2 (Oct. 2, 2016), european-agenda-migration/proposal-implementation-package/docs/managing_the_refugee_crisis_state_of_ play_20160210_annex_02_en.pdf, archived at

[89] Id. at 3.

[90] Commission Recommendation of 2/10/2016, supra note 14, at 1.

[91] Id. at 6–7.

[92] Id. at 5.

[93] Id. at 6.

[94] Id.

[95] Migrant Crisis: Macedonia Shuts Balkans Route, BBC News (Mar. 2016),, archived at

[96] Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and to the Council on the State of Play of Implementation of the Priority Actions Under the European Agenda on Migration, at 13, COM (2016) 85 final (Feb. 10, 2016),, archived at

[97] Press Release, European Council, Statement of the EU Heads of State or Government (Mar. 7, 2016),, archived at

[98] Id.

[99] Migrant Crisis: UN Legal Concerns over EU-Turkey Plan, BBC News (Mar. 8, 2016), world-europe-35754738, archived at