Greek MPs were presented with a draft bill in Parliament on Tuesday, aimed to change the country’s asylum system.
The government hopes that the new measures, which are to go into effect next year, will accelerate procedures and reduce the number of refugees and migrants trapped in the country by lengthy bureaucratic procedures.
The bill has come under fire from human rights organisations, who argue that they have not been given enough time to assess the impact of the regulations.
The six organisations- Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, the Hellenic League for Human Rights, the Greek Council for Refugees, the Greek Forum of Migrants and HumanRights360 have also criticised the legislation, particularly Article 46, which enables authorities to detain asylum seekers.
In a statement, they warned of “serious human rights violations… that will push a large number of people into a gray zone with no documents or rights.” On Wednesday, they will hold a joint press conference to voice their concerns.
If the bill is passed, the new system would prevent appeals against negative asylum decisions that are not shown in an official brief to have legal merit, while also scrapping recognition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a valid basis for an asylum claim, unless it is backed by ample medical evidence.
It would also allow asylum boards’ rulings and decisions to be delivered to a legal representative of the claimant in the event that he or she cannot be located, thus allowing decisions to come into effect faster, while abolishing the right to temporary residence and work permits if a claim is rejected at the first degree.
The movement of refugees and migrants would also be restricted under the new rules.
Anyone protesting their transfer to another facility from a reception center or objecting to any other part of the system, for example, would be treated as reneging on their right to apply for asylum. All claimants also have to remain at official camps or other accommodation for the duration of the process so that they can be located in the event that their application is rejected and they are slated for deportation.