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Ombudsman's Recommendation, Conclusion No. 7188.2.2/5.8.1999

Publisher Greece: Ombudsman
Author Greek Ombudsman
Publication Date 1999
Citation / Document Symbol 7188.2.2/5.8.1999
Cite as Greece: Ombudsman, Ombudsman's Recommendation, Conclusion No. 7188.2.2/5.8.1999, 1999, 7188.2.2/5.8.1999, available at: [accessed 22 January 2018]
Comments This is a summary in English provided by UNHCR Athens.
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Summary of facts: The Social Welfare Department of the Athens Prefecture denied, in written form, to the petitioner, an Iraqi national recognized refugee in Greece, the special invalidity benefit as a handicapped person as well as his examination by the competent Health Committee. In its letter the Prefecture declared that the petitioner cannot receive any such benefit, since his Iraqi nationality excludes him from the beneficiaries, according to the relevant inter-ministerial Decree.  

Recommendation: In the said case the crucial element is not the beneficiary's nationality but rather his status of a recognized refugee, who is expressly by law assimilated in terms of social welfare benefits to Greek nationals. In particular, art. 23 of the Geneva Convention stipulates that all Contracting parties offer refugees legally residing in their territory a similar treatment to that of their own nationals in terms of public health and welfare. After its ratification the a/m Convention is of superior force to other ordinary laws; the reasoning of the Athens Prefecture is therefore illegal since:

a)      itmentions the applicant's nationality rather than his refugee status and b) it refers to a ministerial decree which goes against an international instrument ratified by Greece. Its status of a legislative text of a lower order, renders said Decree invalid in the current case. The petitioner is entitled to saidbenefit directly by virtue of art. 23 of the a/m Convention. Furthermore, said decree should be complemented in order to include the refugees among its beneficiaries. 

Given the important character of the case, the Ombudsman requests a reasoned reply by the Athens Prefecture, pursuant to art. 4 para. 5 of L. 2477/1997.

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