The upgrade of the "Alkyoni" system of the Asylum Service leaves processes and people in the air
The upgrade of “Alkyoni”, the Greek Asylum Service database, has ‘frozen’ asylum procedures throughout Greece since early May. Registration of applications, interviews and other necessary actions for refugees protection such as the uploading, granting and renewal of documents, including asylum seeker cards, have been abruptly and indefinitely postponed.
Following an initial announcement on the launch of “Alkyoni II” in early 2022, the Ministry of Migration and Asylum committed to the European Commission to launching it by January 2023. However, the upgrade of the database began no earlier than 5 May 2023. In view of this upgrade, the Ministry announced a “reorganisation of planned actions”, without any further information or clarifications.
Since then, key services have been suspended for nearly a month, as Asylum Service employees do not have access to the database and electronic files of asylum seekers and recognised beneficiaries of protection until it is restored.
People, however, are not informed in time by the Administration about the postponement of the above actions in their cases. They are obliged to appear in person “at every stage of the process”, namely to their scheduled appointments at the Asylum Service. This involves travel on their own means and often through lengthy and costly transport from remote camps throughout the mainland. Women represented by RSA in Attica who went to the Asylum Service this week for their scheduled interviews were orally informed after a long wait that their interviews would not take place. They had received no prior information, despite written requests from the organisation’s lawyers.
In practice, the suspension of the registration of requests and the inability to issue cards or other identification documents exposes applicants to a risk of detention and deportation and violates the right of access to the asylum procedure. This is significantly restricted on the mainland since all registrations of new applications take place in only two registration centres.
As recently as 2022, thousands of people had been left without identification documents for many months through no fault of their own, due to another “technical problem” faced by the Asylum Service in issuing International Protection Applicants’ Cards, despite repeated interventions by the Greek Ombudsman and civil society. At the same time, serious shortages in interpretation services since early February have compounded insecurity and caused further delays. These gaps have not been fully remedied to date.
The Greek authorities’ inability to ensure smooth operation of asylum procedures, and adequate and timely information to effected persons in the current circumstances at a minimum, jeopardises the cooperation that the State requires from the applicants in the asylum procedure and violates its obligations.
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