Upon condition that the applicant consents to it, the law provides for the possibility for the competent authorities to refer him or her for a medical and/or psychosocial diagnosis where there are signs or claims, which might indicate past persecution or serious harm. These examinations shall be free of charge and shall be conducted by specialised scientific personnel of the respective specialisation and their results shall be submitted to the competent authorities as soon as possible. Otherwise, the applicants concerned must be informed that they may be subjected to such examinations at their own initiative and expense. Any results and reports of such examinations had to be taken into consideration by the Asylum Service. The Asylum Code provides that any results and reports of such examinations are taken into consideration, in order for the deciding authorities to establish if the applicant’s allegations of persecution or serious harm are likely to be well-founded”.
Specifically, for persons who have been subjected to torture, rape, or other serious acts of violence, a contested provision was introduced in 2018, according to which, such persons should be certified by a medical certificate issued by a public hospital or by an adequately trained doctor of a public sector health care service provider. The provision has been maintained by the IPA and the Asylum Code.
The main critiques against this provision are that doctors in public hospitals and health care providers are not adequately trained to identify possible victims of torture and that the law foresees solely a medical procedure. According to the Istanbul Protocol, a multidisciplinary approach is required – a team of a doctor, a psychologist, and a lawyer – for the identification of victims of torture. Moreover, stakeholders have expressed fears that certificates from other entities than public hospitals and public health care providers would not be admissible in the asylum procedure and judicial review before courts.
Such cases of best practice, where Asylum Service officers referred applicants for such reports, were not recorded by GCR in 2022. However, several cases have been reported to GCR where the Asylum Service or the Appeals Authority did not take into account the medical reports provided (see Special Procedural Guarantees).
As reported by several civil society organisations,
‘certain categories such as victims of torture are systematically not identified as such, where certification does not take place. Certification of victims of torture is impossible in the country in practice, given that public health authorities do not have the processes and capacity in place to carry out certification. The authors have contacted public health institutions on the islands on various occasions to inquire whether they certify victims of torture in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol, victims of rape of other serious form of violence, as well as whether hospital staff are appropriately trained for such a certification and whether the victims are able to receive the necessary care for their rehabilitation.’
Reports published by MSF and METAdrasi in December 2021 confirm that no public hospital is able to carry out the procedure set out in Article 61(1) IPA (now Article 67 Asylum Code) in practice. Ten public hospitals across Greece confirmed to MSF in 2021 that they lack the capacity or expertise to provide certification or rehabilitation to victims of torture. Out of 89 public hospitals contacted by METAdrasi throughout the country in 2021, only seven replied in writing and none conducts the certification procedure set out in the law.
During 2022, a subsequent asylum application lodged by a national of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a victim of torture in his country of origin and suffering from serious mental health disorders, was rejected as inadmissible by Western Greece’s RAO on the grounds that the medical certificates by the psychiatrist and psychologist from “ARSIS” as well as the “Certification of Torture Victims” issued by “Metadrasi” that were submitted for the first time before the Authorities could not be considered as “new substantial elements” due to the fact that during his first asylum application, which was rejected, the applicant had already claimed to have been a victim of torture in his country of origin. An appeal was submitted before the Appeals Authority and the decision is still pending.
 Article 53 L 4375/2016.
 Article 77 Asylum Code
 Article 23 L 4540/2018.
 Article 61(1) IPA.
 Article 67 Asylum Code
 RSA, p.16
 METAdrasi, Θύματα βασανιστηρίων: Από την ανίχνευση στην προστασία: Ιστορικό, πρακτικές και συστάσεις για τη βελτίωση της προστασίας των θυμάτων βασανιστηρίων στην Ελλάδα, 21 December 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3170BJQ; MSF, ‘Οι Γιατροί Χωρίς Σύνορα ολοκληρώνουν τη δράση τους στην κλινική για επιζώντες βασανιστηρίων στην Αθήνα’, 21 December 2021, https://bit.ly/3EBMrOC..
 Decision on file with the author