Annulment of a decision of the Appeals Authority which rejected the unaccompanied minor’s asylum application

Athens, 3 January 2018

After a very difficult year for the defense of the fundamental rights of immigrants and refugees, 2017 ended with very good news for minors seeking international protection. The Athens Administrative Court of Appeal upheld an application for annulment brought by the Legal Service of ARSIS against a decision issued by the Appeals Authority, which rejected the application for asylum of an unaccompanied child from Morocco.

In particular, the Court held that the decision issued by the Appeals Authority was vitiated by a lack of specific and detailed reasons, since the applicant’s allegations of abuse and violence he had received as a child in Morocco were not thoroughly examined. The decision was also declared void because the procedural guarantees for asylum-seekers were not complied with and the right to be heard was violated, since no hearing was given to the second degree.

Finally, the Court ruled that any return of the child to Morocco would constitute a violation of Article 3 of the ECHR, which stipulates that no person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Such a decision is of great importance at a time when children’s rights are being circumvented daily, reception and integration conditions (e.g. housing, access to education, health care) are worsening and selected by the Greek government confinement and mass return policies.

Moreover, the news at pan-European level are very worrying, and recent German Ministry of Interior projects for returning children to “shelters” in northern Morocco are provoking even more negative developments.

From a substantive point of view, it is a decision-making station because in a number of secondary decisions of rejection, the entire history of the persecution of children is degraded to “economic reasons” that do not need protection. As a result, it is decided that unaccompanied minors will return to their countries of origin without any investigation as to whether they will find themselves again in the abusive environment they have escaped or if they have a supportive network to live in dignity, as explicitly stated in the UN guidelines and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Furthermore, we underline the great importance of the procedural guarantees in the asylum procedure, as interviews in the case of minors are carried out without a Guardian being appointed and no Legal Assistance measures have been taken.

For our part, we will continue to highlight these issues, to propose evidence-based alternatives and to stand in the hands of those in need. The recent decision of the Athens Administrative Court of Appeal is an encouraging message that our work can bring significant results.

A few words about the intervention of ARSIS – Association for the Support of Youth, Athens in the field of detention

An ARSIS unit, consisting of lawyers, social worker, psychologist and interpreters, since June 2016 has been regularly visited at the Detention Center in Amygdaleza, Attica – until December 2016 at the Detention Center of the Unaccompanied Children. From the 1st of January 2017 until to the end of the year, ARSIS – Association for the Support  for Youth, with the same team, which is part of the force of the Youth Support Center – Κ.Υ.Ν. implements an intervention program at the Pre-Detention Centers of Tavros and Amygdaleza, by conducting regular weekly visits (2-3 times a week) to the above detention centers, in order to provide legal and psychosocial support to unaccompanied minors, adult/young prisoners and other vulnerable cases, especially families in detention.

ARSIS also intervenes in the detention camp of Amygdaleza with the Mobile School, a moving school with a variety of activities for young and old children.

In addition, in the Pre-Detention Center of Tavros, in relation to the provision of psychosocial support by ARSIS’ team, a group of empowerment and encouragement of women who are detained has been created. With its actions and services, ARSIS seeks to prevent or minimize the impact of negative factors in detention and adverse conditions that can cause serious problems for people’s lives and lead them to social exclusion.

A few words about the Youth Support Center – KYN of Athens

The Youth Support Center is a social, community structure, specializing in the needs and demands of children and young people. Its mission is to provide support services against marginalization and exclusion, while also producing a proposal to improve youth policies. Central concepts and practices in the work of the structure are access to rights, the prevention of inequality, work with the community and the development of inclusive group processes for children and young people, through education and the opening of opportunities for creative expression and meaningful communication.

See the press release here.