The recognition rate at second instance decreased from 5.5% in the first half of the year to 5.2% at the end of the year, due to a drop in positive decisions both on the islands and on the mainland.
As regards Syrian nationals in particular, the Appeals Committees issued 130 refugee status decisions and 1,590 rejections. For Afghan nationals, 458 refugee status decisions, 49 subsidiary protection decisions and 2,254 rejections.
The sum of 25,013 decisions of the Appeals Committees includes 370 decisions referring appellants for a residence permit on humanitarian grounds and 171 decisions reverting cases back to the first instance.
In addition, the Appeals Authority took 1,295 decisions pursuant to Article 113 IPA rejecting pending appeals which had been lodged prior to 21 July 2016, as no requests were submitted by the persons concerned to continue the examination of their appeal.
Judicial review of asylum decisions
Throughout the year, 1,118 applications for annulment of Appeals Committee decisions were lodged before the Greek administrative courts. According to the Ministry’s statistics, 111 decisions were issued in 2020, while 1,007 applications are pending. Only 2 out of 111 decisions accepted the annulment application.
RSA recalls that the examination of most annulment applications by Administrative Courts has currently been suspended, pending the outcome of a pilot procedure before the Plenary of the Council of State relating to the constitutionality of IPA provisions transferring competence for judicial review of second instance decisions (often taken by Committees composed of higher-level judges) from Administrative Courts of Appeal to the Administrative Courts of Athens and Piraeus.
ARRIVALS AND DEPARTURES
Since July 2020, the government has used the term “departures” of asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection from Greece, which include outgoing Dublin transfers and relocations to other European countries. RSA stresses, however, that these categories of movements refer to widely different types of transfers of people out of Greece and should not be conflated in statistics.
Similar to previous notes, the annual note of the Ministry compares the ‘net balance’ of “arrivals / departures” from the country. It calculates “arrivals” solely based on irregular arrivals registered by the Hellenic Police. On the one hand, there are significant disparities in the number of newcomersbetween Ministry (14,848) and UNHCR (15,669) data. On the other hand, official figures omit incoming Dublin transfers and readmissions of beneficiaries of international protection to Greece, which continue to take place in the context of the Common European Asylum System.
Dublin Regulation and relocation
According to the note, the number of outgoing Dublin transfers last year was 1,941, of which 778 concerned Afghan nationals, 295 Syrian nationals and 240 stateless persons. However, no detailed statistics are provided on Dublin procedures managed by the Dublin Unit, as was the case in the monthly Asylum Service reports which covered inter alia: outgoing “take charge” and “take back” requests by criterion (e.g. family unity, irregular entry) and Member State; acceptances and rejections of requests by other Dublin Units; transfers by country.
Available figures indicate a drop in Dublin transfers from 2,542 in 2019 to 1,941 in 2020. Yet, an in-depth analysis of the Dublin procedure is not possible in the absence of more detailed statistics – to assess the acceptance rate of Greek Dublin Unit requests, for instance. Moreover, no data are provided on the number of incoming Dublin requests and transfers in 2020, as stated above.
As regards relocation, the publication of detailed figures by voluntary relocation scheme and by country of origin of unaccompanied children is welcome. Specifically, the main countries of origin of the 573 unaccompanied children relocated under the EU voluntary relocation scheme to various Member States were Afghanistan (390), Syria (57), Pakistan (29), DRC (24), Egypt (17) and Somalia (14).
It is nevertheless important to highlight that transfers of asylum seekers within the scope of relocation are also Dublin transfers, carried out under the Article 17(2) “humanitarian clause” according to the administration. Therefore, relocation statistics should at least clarify that the Dublin Regulation is applied in the context of relocation. Resorting the provision of detailed statistics as kept by the Asylum Service would allow for such clarifications to be made, as it would document the breakdown of outgoing requests and transfers by criterion of the Regulation.
Out of 7,151 returns carried out in 2020, 3,660 were forced returns, 2,565 were voluntary returns with support from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and 926 were voluntary departures following the issuance of a return decision. Almost half of the total number of returns relate to Albanian nationals.