Alternatives to detention


Country Report: Alternatives to detention Last updated: 08/06/23


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Articles 50(2) and 50(3) of the Asylum Code require authorities to examine and apply alternatives to detention before resorting to detention of an asylum seeker. A non-exhaustive list of alternatives to detention provided by national legislation, both for third-country nationals under removal procedures and asylum seekers, is mentioned in Article 22(3) L 3907/2011. Regular reporting to the authorities and an obligation to reside at a specific area are included on this list. The possibility of a financial guarantee as an alternative to detention is also foreseen in the law, provided that a Joint Decision of the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Public Order will be issued with regard to the determination of the amount of such financial guarantee.[1] However, such a Joint Ministerial Decision is still pending since 2011. In any event, alternatives to detention are systematically neither examined nor applied in practice. As noted by UNHCR in May 2019 ‘there is no consideration of alternative measures to detention’.[2]

The Asylum Code repealed the condition of a prior recommendation on the continuation or termination of detention from the Asylum Service (article 46(4) Asylum code) requiring solely the notification (‘ενημέρωση’) from the Asylum Service. Under the previous legislation said condition was provided. However, when issuing recommendations on the continuation or termination of detention of an asylum seeker,[3] the Asylum Service tended to use standardised recommendations, stating that detention should be prolonged “if it is judged that alternative measures may not apply”. Thus, the Asylum Service did not proceed to any assessment and it was up to the Police to decide on the implementation of alternatives to detention.

The geographical restriction on the islands

As regards the “geographical restriction” on the islands, i.e. the obligation to remain on the island of arrival, imposed systematically to newly arrived persons subject to the EU-Türkiye statement (see General), after the initial issuance of a detention order, the legal nature of the measure has to be assessed by taking into account the “concrete situation” of the persons and ‘a whole range of criteria such as the type, duration, effects and manner of implementation of the measure.’[4] In any event, it should be mentioned that the measure is:

  • Not examined and applied before ordering detention;[5]
  • Not limited to cases where a detention ground exists;[6]
  • Applied indiscriminately, without a proportionality test, for an indefinite period (without a maximum time limit to be provided by law) and without an effective legal remedy to be in place.

As has been observed, a national practice systematically imposing an alternative to detention ‘would suggest that the system is arbitrary and not tailored to the individual circumstances’ of the persons concerned.[7]

Non-compliance with the geographical restriction leads to the re-detention of persons arrested outside their assigned island with a view to be transferred back. Persons returned either remain detained or, if released, often face harsh living conditions due to overcrowded reception facilities on the islands.




[1]  Article 22(3) L 3907/2011.

[2] UNHCR, Recommendations by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) concerning the execution of judgments by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the cases of M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece (Application No. 30696/09, Grand Chamber judgment of 21 January 2011) and of Rahimi v. Greece (Application No. 8687/08, Chamber judgment of 05 April 2011), 15 May 2019, available at:, 5.

[3] Article 46(3) L 4375/2016.

[4] See inter alia ECtHR, Guzzardi v. Italy, Application No 7367/76, Judgment of 6 November 1980, available at:, para 92-93.

[5] UN Commission on Human Rights, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Addendum: report on the visit of the Working Group to the United Kingdom on the issue of immigrants and asylum seekers, 18 December 1998, E/CN.4/1999/63/Add.3, available at:, para 33: ‘Alternative and non-custodial measures, such as reporting requirements, should always be considered before resorting to detention’.

[6]   FRA, Fundamental rights: challenges and achievements in 2012, available at:, 52.

[7]  UNHCR, Guidelines on the Applicable Criteria and Standards relating to the Detention of Asylum-Seekers and Alternatives to Detention, 2012, available at:, 43.

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