The Netherlands cannot simply send asylum seekers back to Greek camps

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

The Netherlands may only send rejected asylum seekers back to Greece if it is clear in advance that they can get legal assistance from a lawyer. That has been determined by the supreme court in The Hague in a first trial that the Dutch authorities had requested about the interpretation of a new European directive.

At the time, the government did not process the asylum application of two fled Syrians because they had entered Europe via Greece. At the time, European rules stipulated that refugees could only apply for asylum in the country of arrival. The so-called Dublin rule was put at risk by the large refugee stream.

The two Syrians appealed to the poor conditions in the asylum seekers' centers on the Greek islands and said they could therefore not be returned. According to the Council of State it is possible, but only if it has guaranteed access to legal aid on the spot. But what that means for the deportation policy is not yet clear.

The deportations of 'Dublin asylum seekers' to Greece have actually stopped since 2011. At that time, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the circumstances there were too bad to implement the Dublin Regulation. As a result, most other EU countries have also stopped sending asylum seekers back to Greece.

In 2016, the European Commission said that the circumstances had improved enough to gradually start returning 'non-vulnerable' aliens to Greece. The trials of the two Syrians are among the first attempts that the Netherlands then made. The highest judicial authorities have now determined that returning is only permitted if legal assistance is guaranteed on the spot.