Provision of information on the procedure

Greece

Country Report: Provision of information on the procedure Last updated: 30/11/20

Author

Greek Council for Refugees Visit Website

Article 41 L.4375/2016 provided, inter alia, that applicants should be informed, in a language which they understand and in a simple and accessible manner, on the procedure to be followed, their rights and obligations. This provision is repeated by Art. 69(2) IPA.

The Asylum Service has produced an informational leaflet for asylum seekers, entitled “Basic Information for People Seeking International Protection in Greece”, available in 20 languages.[1] Moreover, the Asylum Service provides:

  • Information in 18 languages on its website;[2]
  • A telephone helpline with recorded information for asylum seekers in 10 languages;
  • A telephone helpline by which applicants can receive individual information, accessible for some hours daily;
  • Information on the asylum procedure through 10 videos in 7 languages;[3]
  • A mobile application called “Asylum Service Application” with information on the procedure;[4] and
  • An illustrated booklet with information tailored to asylum-seeking children, available in 6 languages.[5]

Additionally, a number of actors are engaged in information provision concerning the asylum procedure.

However, due to the complexity of the procedure and constantly changing legislation and practice, as well as bureaucratic hurdles, access to comprehensible information remains a matter of concern.[6] Given that legal aid is provided by law only for appeal procedures and remains limited in practice (see Regular Procedure: Legal Assistance), applicants often have to navigate the complex asylum system on their own, without sufficient information.

For example, as noted by FRA, applicants on the Eastern Aegean islands “still have only limited understanding of the asylum procedure and lack information on their individual asylum cases”.[7]  Moreover the lack of communication between different authorities on the islands and the frequent changes in the procedure[8] have also an impact on the ability of asylum seekers to receive proper information.

For those detained and due to the total lack of sufficient interpretation services provided in detention facilities, access to information is even more limited. As observed in the preliminary findings of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, published in December 2019, following the group’s visit to Greece, no information is provided by the police to the detainees on their right to apply for international protection or the procedural stages, neither on the detention time limits. Furthermore, the detention decisions are only drafted in Greek and most PRDCs do not have regular interpretation services for most languages[9].  These finding are corroborated by the 2019 CPT Report, following the visit of the Delegation in April 2018 in Greece. According to the CPT,  “the delegation met again a large number of foreign nationals in the pre-removal centres visited who complained that the information provided was insufficient – particularly concerning their (legal) situation and length of detention – or that they were unable to understand this information. This was partly due to the complex legal framework which allowed for their detention on numerous grounds”.[10] These finding are repeated in the report issued in 2020 following the 2019 visit of the Delegation. As noted by the CPT,  “[w]hile a two-page information leaflet (Δ-33 form) detailing the rights of detained persons was generally available and pinned to the wall in various languages in most police stations visited, none of the persons interviewed by the CPT’s delegation had obtained a copy of it. The CPT’s delegation also received numerous complaints by foreign national detainees who stated that they had not been informed of their rights in a language they could understand and that they had signed documents in the Greek language without knowing their content and without having been provided with the assistance of an interpreter. The CPT once again reiterates”.[11]

 


[1]Asylum Service, Basic Information for People Seeking International Protection in Greece, June 2013, available at: http://bit.ly/1Wuhzb7.

[2]Asylum Service, Information in 18 languages, available at: http://asylo.gov.gr/?page_id=159.

[3] Asylum Service, Audiovisual information material on the Asylum Procedure, available at: https://bit.ly/2O9Cxev.

[4] Government, ‘Η Υπηρεσία Ασύλου και το Χαροκόπειο Πανεπιστήμιο ανακοινώνουν τη δοκιμαστική λειτουργία της εφαρμογής Asylum Service Application’, 3 April 2017, available in Greek at: http://bit.ly/2Gse9Rv.

[5]Asylum Service, I am under 18 and I am seeking asylum in Greece, available at: http://asylo.gov.gr/?page_id=6210.

[6]See e.g. the Asylum Service flowchart on the asylum procedure following the EU-Turkey statement at: http://bit.ly/2DpZms5.

[7] Update of the 2016 Opinion of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights on fundamental rights in the ‘hotspots’ set up in Greece and Italy, February 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2KyCqrQ, p. 36.

[8] GHM et al.,No End In Sight:  The mistreatment of asylum seekers in Greece, available at: https://bit.ly/3eSuNdK.

[9] UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Preliminary Findings from its visit to Greece (2 – 13 December 2019), available at https://bit.ly/3aKJvQB.

[10] Report to the Greek Government on the visit to Greece carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 10 to 19 April 2018 The Greek Government has requested, CPT/Inf (2019) 4, February 2019.

[11] CPT, Report to the Greek Government on the visit to Greece carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 28 March to 9 April 2019, CPT/Inf (2020) 15, April 2020,  para. 100. 

 

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation