Gay Syrian asks EU court to block deportation

2016-06-04 13:19


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Athens - A gay Syrian man who fled Turkey after Islamic State "emissaries" visited him and demanded he return to his homeland, is challenging his deportation from Greece, a rights group said on Friday.

The European Court of Human Rights has been asked to block the man's deportation, the first such appeal under an EU-Turkey migration deal.

Karl Kopp, European affairs director for German-based group Pro Asyl, said the request to the Strasbourg-based court was tabled late on Thursday.

"This is the first case under the EU-Turkey deal reaching the ECHR," he told AFP.

Greek state news agency ANA said the 46-year-old man had previously worked in the oil industry and lived between Turkey and Nigeria.

In March, he fled to Greece after a visit by the ISIS "emissaries" who told him to return to Syria, Kopp said.

The Syrian arrived on the Greek island of Lesbos on March 29, days after the EU struck a deal to send failed asylum seekers back to Turkey in a bid to stem the bloc's worst ever migrant crisis.

His application was rejected by Greek asylum services and a board of appeal ruled that it was safe to return him to Turkey on the grounds that he had lived several years in Istanbul.

Before now, the board had granted asylum to every applicant it deal with - all Syrians - on the basis Turkey was not a safe country for them, according to Pro Asyl. The refugee advocacy group listed 10 such decisions.

A Greek government source dismissed any suggestion the decision was politically motivated, saying each ruling was made on a case-by-case basis.

Pro Asyl, the Greek Council for Refugees and other rights groups are providing legal assistance to many asylum applicants who fear discrimination or physical danger if returned to Turkey.

By the end of May, there were around 880 official requests - including 770 by Syrians - and thousands of expressions of interest, according to a government source.

Greece has been on the front line of an influx of migrants crossing by boat from Turkey as part of Europe's biggest migrant crisis since WWII.

Under the deal struck with Ankara, all Syrian migrants arriving in Greece from March 20 can be sent back to Turkey if they do not apply for asylum or their claim is rejected.

Greece's asylum services have been overwhelmed as many new arrivals have filed applications to try to prevent - or at least delay - their return to Turkey.

Thousands of people have been left stranded in cramped detention camps on Greece's islands, known as popular tourist destinations, where violence has boiled over into brawls and arson attacks.

In the latest outbreak, six migrants were injured on Thursday when clashes erupted on the island of Samos, police said, a day after similar violence hit a camp on Lesbos.

Read more on:    isis  |  eu  |  greece  |  syria  |  migrants

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