Greece: Presidential Decree No. 61 of 1999, Refugee Status Recognition Procedure, Revocation of the Recognition and Deportation of an Alien, Entry Permission for the Members of his Family and Mode of Cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
THE PRESIDENT OF THE HELLENIC REPUBLIC
Taking into account:
1. The provisions of para.1 of Art. 24 of Law 1975/1991 (A'-184), as substituted with Art. 1 of Law 2452/1996 (A'-283).
2. The provisions of Art. 29A of Law 1558/1985 as supplemented with Art. 27 of Law 2081/1992 and amended with Art. 1, para. 2 of Law 2469/1997.
3. The provisions of Art. 22 para. 3 of law no. 2362/1995 "On the public accounting controls of the state expenses and other provisions" (A'-247).
4. The Prime Minister's and the Minister of Finance's decision no. 1107147/1239/006/4.10.1996 (Off. Gazette 922/7.10.1996) on "Delegation of responsibilities of the Minister of Finance to the Deputy Ministers of Finance".
5. The fact that the implementation of the present Decree generates expenses to the National Budget of the Country amounting approximately to the sum of 1.200.000 for the year 1998 and 7.000.000 for the year 1999 and the years thereafter. These expenses will be covered for 1998 from the relevant credits of KAE 0823, 0824, 0871 and 1111 of the executed expense budget EF 43-110 "Greek Police" and for 1999 and for the years thereafter from the 1999 relevant credits that will be registered in the relevant KAE of the yearly expense budgets EF 43-110 "Greek Police".
6. No. 67/1999 Consultation of the State Council, following relevant proposal of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Public Order and the Deputy Minister of Finance, we decide:
Article 1. Submission of asylum claims.
1. An alien who, before any Greek authority at entry points of the Greek State or in the inland, declares, in written or oral form, that he is requesting asylum in our country or in any other way asks not to be deported to a country on the grounds of his fear of persecution because or race, religion, nationality, social class or political opinions, is considered as an asylum seeker according to the 1951 Geneva Convention (Legislative Decree 3989/17/26-9-1959 - OG A - 201/26-9-1959) as amended by the 1967 New York Protocol (Law 389/1968, OG A - 196/16-12-1991), and his removal from the country is by no means permitted until final judgement on his claim has been reached.
The alien who enters our state following implementation of the Dublin Convention of 16-6-1990, ratified by Law 1996/1991, is also considered an "asylum seeker".
2. If the asylum claim is submitted to a non-police authority, the latter has the obligation to immediately notify the competent, as provided for in Art. 2 para. 1 of the present Decree, police authority, in the most appropriate way and to refer the claimant to that authority along with the relevant correspondence.
3. The asylum claim is submitted in person by the alien, and includes the members of his family who are with him and are under his protection. For the implementation of the present decree, members of the claimant's family are considered: the husband/wife of the claimant, the single children of either parent who are under 18 years old, as well as their parents and the children over 18 years old who suffer of mental or physical disability and are not capable of submitting individual claims.
4. An asylum claim can also be submitted by an alien aged between 14 and 18 years old who is not accompanied by his parents if, from the general situation the interviewer considers that his mental maturity allows him to comprehend the meaning of this action. In any other case of asylum claims submitted by aliens under 18 old who are not accompanied by their parents or other guardian, the competent police authority informs the Public Prosecutor for Minors and, when such does not exist, the locally competent First Instance Public Prosecutor, in order that he acts as a special temporary guardian of the minor until the final decision on his claim has been taken.
5. The asylum seeker submits a relevant application at the competent, for the examination of his claim, authorities, according to Art. 2 para. 1 of the present Decree. Together with the application are submitted all travel and identity documents carried by the claimant and certifying the identity of himself and of the a/m protected members of his family, the country of his origin and his place of birth, as well as his family situation. The submission of formal evidence of proof does not constitute a prerequisite for the recognition of refugee status.
6. The asylum seeker is provided by the competent - for the examination of his claim - authority with an information leaflet in a language which he comprehends. In this leaflet, which is published under the care of the Ministry of Public Order, the refugee status determination procedure is being described, as well as the rights and the obligations of the claimant, with specific reference to his obligation to closely cooperate with and to be at the disposal of the competent Authorities for the duration of the examination of his claim, the consequences of his non compliance, and the organisations and the institutions which assist refugees in Greece, among which the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is definitely mentioned. In case no such leaflet is available, or in case no leaflet in a language the claimant comprehends exists, or the applicant cannot read, the applicant is verbally informed by the competent officer of his rights and obligations, with the assistance of an interpreter, if necessary. Special reference to this is made in the report concerning the oral examination, drafted according to the provisions of Art. 2 of the present Decree.
7. The asylum seeker is entitled to resign, at any time, from his claim, before any Authority of those above mentioned in Art. 2, para 1 of the present Decree. A relevant report is drafted for verification of this fact. The Ministry of Public Order informs the Representative of the UNHCR Office in Greece within five days of the submission of the asylum application or the report of resignation from such a claim.
Article 2. Examination of asylum applications - Actions of the relevant services.
1. Competent authorities for examination of a claim and setting the asylum procedure in operation are the Aliens' Sub-Directorates or Departments, the Security Departments of the State Airports and the Security Sub-Directorates or Departments of the Police Directorates.
2. Asylum applications are examined by the above Services within three (3) months following their submission, except cases of asylum seekers remaining at ports or airports, which are examined on the same day. For the examination of asylum applications, specially trained and specialised for this purpose police and civil personnel is assigned, serving at specially established Offices of the Services described in the previous paragraph.
3. The examination includes an interview with the applicant with the assistance of an interpreter, in order that the applicant confirm the facts stated in the application and that he provide explanations, particularly as regards his exact identity data, the reasons for which he does not hold a passport or other official travel document, the exact itinerary he followed before entering the Greek territory and the reasons which forced him to leave his country of origin or permanent residence, seeking asylum in Greece. The interview is held by an interrogating policeman with an officer's grade in co-operation, if the possibility exists, with another officer or civil employee graded PE. Before the interview, the applicant is given, if he so wishes, a reasonable amount of time in order to sufficiently prepare himself and to consult a lawyer who will assist him during the procedure. The reasonable amount of time is determined by the competent examining Service, who provides the claimant with an official note, in which his identity data, the exact date of the interview and the name of the examining officer are stated. For the purposes of the interview, a room specially arranged to ensure confidentiality is being disposed. If the interview concerns a woman asylum seeker who, due to her traumatic experiences or her cultural background is having difficulties in presenting the reasons for her claim, the interview is made by a specialised woman interviewer in the presence of a woman interpreter.
4. If before or during the interview the interviewed alien claims he has been submitted to torture or if there are serious indications to this end, the alien is referred to a specialist on matters pertaining to the treatment of torture victims, who makes a report on the existence or not of injuries of maltreatment or of indications of such type of suffering from serious torture.
5. Within the procedure of the examination, the claimant and all the protected members of his family over 14 years of age are photographed and fingerprinted. The fingerprints and photographs are used solely for the purposes and needs of the asylum procedure within the framework of the country's international obligations. The asylum seeker is informed of this fact.
6. The oral statements of the applicant during the interview comprise the content of a report drafted by the interviewer which, apart from the formal data (place, date, names of the persons present at the interview, etc) contains, in summary, the applicant's answers to the questions posed to him. This report, after being read with the assistance of the interpreter and after its content is confirmed by the claimant, is signed by the latter, the interpreter, the interviewer, and the assistant. Following the signatures, the opinion of the interviewer concerning the consistency, the credibility of the statements, as well as whether the conditions of refugee status recognition, according to Art. 1A of the 1951 Geneva Convention are met, are clearly stated. In any case, the benefit of the doubt acts in support of the claimant. The report also contains the interviewer's opinion on whether the claim falls under the conditions providing for its examination with accelerated procedures, except cases where the asylum seeker remains at ports or airports, in which case the examination of his claim is done only through such a procedure. During the examination of the asylum claims the responsible officers take into account the Handbook on the procedures and the criteria for refugee status determination of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as well as the Joint Position of 4 March 1996 of the Justice and Home Affairs Council by virtue of Art. K.3 of the European Union Treaty on the harmonised implementation of the term "refugee" according to Art. 1A of the above mentioned International Convention.
7. The applicant is provided, free-of-charge, by the competent examining Authority, with an "asylum seeker" card, valid for six (6) months, which is renewed for the same period of time by the locally competent Services as mentioned in Art. 2 para. 1 of the present Decree, until final decision on his claim has been reached. The protected members of the claimant's family are also provided with the same card under the same conditions. The alien is obliged to hand over the above mentioned cards to the Service upon delivery of the final decision on his application and are then destroyed following the drafting of a relevant note for the file.
8. During the entire examining procedure, the asylum seeker is obliged to stay at the place of residence which has been stated by him or assigned to him. In case of arbitrary departure, the procedure for the examination of his asylum claim is interrupted following relevant decision issued by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Public Order, which is notified to the asylum seeker, considered as a person "of unknown residence". If, within reasonable time, which in any case cannot exceed the limit of three (3) months from the date of issuance of the relevant decision, the asylum seeker reappears before the Authorities and submits official documentation proving that his absence was due to "force majeure", the above mentioned decision is revoked and the asylum claim is examined on its merits. In both cases, the Representative of UNHCR in Greece is notified. The is entitled to asking for specific details with regard to the follow-up of the case and to stating his views, if any, to the relevant Authorities.
9. The Service examining the asylum claim submits the relevant application, with the supporting documents and the report, to its supervisory Police Directorate or Aliens' Sub-Directorate, who, after stating their opinion on the proposals made by the interviewing officer or with regard to transferring the responsibility of the examination to another member state of the European Union in implementation of the provisions of the Dublin Convention, submit them to the competent Directorate of the Ministry of Public Order. In case the claim's examination with accelerated procedures is proposed, the file is submitted under priority, within ten (10) days at the latest. Exceptionally, asylum claims submitted at Greece's entry points by aliens who, upon their arrival, either do not fullfil the legal conditions to enter the Greek territory, or are at a port or airport transit zone heading to a third country, are submitted with the relevant report and the supporting documents, within twenty four hours and directly, to the competent Directorate of the Ministry of Public Order, notifying this act to their supervising Service.
10. Interpretation costs at all stages of the asylum claim examination procedure are covered by the budget of the Ministry of Public Order.
11. The Representative of UNHCR in Greece can, in person or through a legally empowered for this purpose representative, visit the asylum seeker during the latter's detention fdor any reason or during the latter's stay in a port or airport transit zone, to which access of the UNHCR Representative is free. A special room is made available by the Service receiving the asylum claim or by the Service in which the asylum seeker is being detained, in order to secure confidentiality of the communication between the asylum seeker and the UNHCR Representative. The UNHCR Representative is promptly provided with all data foreseen in Art. 35, para. 2 of the 1951 Geneva Convention.
12. The applicant's statements and all other data of his application constitute "sensitive data", and are protected by the provisions of Law 2472/1997 (Art. 50).
13. An alien who is a holder of a valid "asylum seeker card" is entitled to benefit from the reception measures foreseen by provisions of sentence c of para. 2 and sentence b of para. 4, Art. 24 of Law 1975/1991, as amended by Law 2452/1996, as well as from the measures providing basic education for his minor children.
Article 3. Regular examination of asylum applications.
1. With the reservation of the provisions pertaining to examination of asylum claims through accelerated procedures of Art. 5 of the present Decree, the asylum seeker is recognised as a refugee and is granted asylum upon decision of the Secretary General of the Ministry of Public Order, following relevant recommendation made by the Division of State Security of the Ministry of Public Order. During the drafting of the recommendation, the competent officer or PE grade civil servant handling the case collects every useful element to the case and can request the views of other Authorities, as well as information from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or other organisations, particularly concerning the situation in third countries of origin or transit. He can also conduct a re-examination of the applicant in order to obtain clarifications or for complementary information to be submitted for verification of his recommendation, if he considers it necessary or is so ordered.
2. If the asylum seeker and his family are recognized as refugees, they are handed the recognition decision and, according to Art. 27 of the 1951 Geneva Convention, a refugee ID card. On the basis of this card, the refugee and his family are provided, free-of-charge, from the locally competent Authority, with a residence permit valid for five years, which is renewed for equal additional periods of time, except cases for which the asylum has been revoked, in application of Art. 1C of the Geneva Convention or in cases for which the deportation of the refugee has been ordered, according to Art. 32 of the same Convention.
3. If the refugee claim is rejected, the asylum seeker is entitled to appeal against the decision before the Minister of Public Order, within a revocatory limit of thirty (30) days from the date the decision was handed to the asylum seeker. The rejective decision contains full justification for the rejection of the asylum claim and explicitly mentions the time limit of 30 days for the right to file an appeal, as well as the consequences of not exercising this right within the above time limit. The content of the decision is orally announced to the applicant in a language which he comprehends. Special reference on this announcements is made on the certificate of the notification.
4. The appeal is filed according to Art. 2 para. 1 of the present Decree, to the locally competent Police Authority based on the applicant's place of residence or temporary stay. The competent Authority has the obligation to forward the appeal as soon as possible to the Ministry of Public Order. During the a/m period of thirty (30) days and for the time following the filing of an appeal, every measure pertaining to the applicant's removal from the country is suspended, until the date of issuance of the relevant decision by the Minister of Public Order.
5. The Minister adjudicates on the appeal within ninety (90) days from the date of its submission, following relevant recommendation made by a 6-member committee consisting of the Legal Counsellor of the Ministry of Public Order or his official deputy, as chairperson, and: a Legal Counsellor of the Special Legal Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a high level officer of the diplomatic corps of the competent Directorate of the same Ministry and a high level officer of the Greek Police Force as members, who are designated along with their alternates by their respective Ministers. The Committee also includes a representative from the Athens Bar Association, who is appointed together with his alternate by the Board of Directors of the ABA, and the Legal Protection Officer of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Greece, or a specially appointed representative. The decisions of the Committee are taken by majority and a split vote is settled by the vote of the Chairperson.
6. The above mentioned Committee meets upon invitation of the Chairperson, which is notified to its members at least five (5) days before the meeting, in order that they be informed about the particular elements of the case. The meeting is an appropriate place which is disposed by the Ministry of Public Order. The Committee is provided with secretarial and translation support by a respective number of police officers and civil servants of the Ministry of Public Order who are solely engaged for this purpose.
7. The Committee invites the appellant, who is promptly informed about the venue and the date of the examination of his appeal, as well as about his right to be present in person or accompanied by his legal representative, to orally state, with the assistance of an appropriate interpreter, his arguments and to provide clarifications or to submit additional complementary evidence.
8. The decision of the Minister of Public Order on the appeal is handed to the asylum seeker. If the appeal is accepted, the provisions of para. 2 of the present Article are implemented. If the appeal is rejected, the relevant pronouncement states the obligations of the claimant with regard to his stay in Greece or his departure from the country within a specified period of time or his possibility to remain according to the provisions of Art. 8 of the present Decree.
9. If, upon implementation of the provisions of the Dublin Convention of 1990, another member state of the EU is responsible for the examination of an asylum application, the Division of State Security of the Ministry of Public Order provides him with a travel document (Laissez-passer), the type and content of which is determined in the attached Annex of the present Decree.
10. All decisions taken within the procedure described in the present article are notified to the Representative of the UNHCR Office in Greece.
Article 4. Accelerated procedure.
1. If an asylum application is submitted by an alien during his arrival at a port or airport entry point, or if the conditions of para. 2 of Art. 25 of Law 1975/1991, as amended by Art. 2 of Law 2452/1996, are met, in combination with what is provided for in the Resolutions of 30-11/1-12-1992 of the Ministers for Immigration of the members states of the EU regarding the concepts of "manifestly unfounded asylum applications" and "safe third country", then the application is examined through the accelerated procedure. Conclusions No. 30 and No. 58 of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees are also taken into consideration. With regard to matters pertaining to the mode of examination of the applicant and the submission of the application and its supporting documents, the provisions of Art. 2 of the present Decree are accordingly followed.
2. The Head of the Division for Police, Security and Order of the Ministry of Public Order decides, following relevant recommendation of the Department of State Security/MPO, upon the applications described in the previous paragraph. If the Head of the Division for Police, Security and Order judges that the legal conditions permitting the examining application to fall under the accelerated procedure do not exist, [according to the provisions of para. 2 of Art. 25 of Law 1975/1991, as amended by Art. 2 of Law 2452/1996], the application is referred by decision of the above mentioned Officer to the Service which submitted the recommendation, in order that it be examined through regular procedures.
3. If the asylum seeker and the members of his family are recognised as refugees, the provisions of para. 2 of the previous article of the present Decree are implemented.
4. If the application is rejected, the applicant has the right to appeal before the Secretary General of the Ministry of Public Order, within revocatory limit of ten (10) days from the date of delivery of the decision. For all other matters, the provisions of para. 4 of the previous article of the present Decree are implemented.
5. The Secretary General of the Ministry of Public Order decides upon the appeal, within thirty (30) days of its filing, following recommendation of the committee described in Art. 3 of the present Decree.
6. In case the applicant is found in the transit zone of a port or airport, the time limits mentioned in previous paragraphs of the current Article are reduced in half. In this case, and if the alien remains in transit zones of ports or airports, his entry in the Greek territory is allowed, without passport or other formalities, for as long as the examination of his application lasts, following decision of the Head of the Department of State Security of the Ministry of Public Order.
7. Provisions of para. 10 of the previous article are implemented accordingly for decisions issued under the procedure of the present article.
Article 5. Re-examination of an asylum application.
An asylum application by a foreigner will not be examined if a previous one [by the same person] has been rejected by the administration at a final instance. Exceptionally, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Public Order, following relevant application by the claimant, can order the ab initio re-examination of the claim, if new and crucial evidence of proof is submitted by the applicant, which concern him or the members of his family and which, had they been known before the issuance of the final decision, would constitute a basic criterion for his recognition as a refugee. The ab initio re-examination of claims examined under the accelerated procedure according to article 4 of this decree is not allowed.
Article 6. Revocation of a refugee status recognition decision.
Revocation of the decision recognising an alien as a refugee and deportation of a recognised refugee is made through the procedure foreseen by the provisions of Arts. 2 and 3 of the present Decree, provided that the conditions described in Art. 32 and 33 of the Geneva Convention of 1951 are met.
Article 7. Family reunification of a refugee.
1. The alien to whom, according to the provisions of the present decree, refugee status has been granted, is entitled, by application of the provision of Art. 1, para. 1, sentence c of Law 2452/1996 to apply, in the framework of family reunification, for the legal entry and settlement of his family members, as this is determined according to Greek legal order. For purposes of the implementation of the present Decree, members of the family of a refugee are considered: his/her spouse, his/her unmarried children under the age of 18, as well as their parents, provided that these persons were living with him and were supported by him prior to their arrival in Greece.
2. The entry and stay in Greece of the family members of a refugee is allowed, if the following conditions are met:
a. The family members to arrive will live together with the refugee.
b. The refugee provides proof, through official documentation, that he has accomplished the income of an unskilled worker, for at least half a year's working days before the submission of the family reunification application.
c. The family members to arrive are holders of regular and valid travel documents and of a valid, for this purpose, entry visa issued by the Greek Consulate.
d. The presence of the refugee's family members in Greek territory is not considered dangerous for the public order or security of the country.
e. The family relationship is proven through official documentation.
3. In order to materialize his family's arrival in Greece, the refugee is obliged to submit to the Aliens Police of the place of his residence the following documents:
a. application in which he explicitly expresses his wish to be reunited with the members of his family in Greece.
b. official statement that he undertakes to cover the expenses of their stay and every day living.
c. copy of his social insurance booklet
d. official document translated in Greek, verifying his relationship with the specific family members and stating their exact age.
4. The Aliens Police to which the supporting documents are submitted, after conducting a necessary control, submits the documents and its recommendation to the competent Section of the Ministry of Public Order, which, provided that the above conditions are met, transmits the relevant correspondence to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is responsible for the issuance of an entry visa through the competent Consulate. The latter has the obligation to note on the visa the specific purpose of these aliens' arrival in Greece as well as the protocol number of the permit for its issuance. In case of negative decision on the application, all supporting documents are returned to the concerned refugee. The refugee is informed of the reasons for the rejection of his application, as well as of his right to lodge an appeal.
5. The family members of the recognized refugee who entered according to all requirements the Greek Territory in the context of family reunification, obtain the same rights and obligations with the recognized refugee and are obliged within one month from their arrival to submit to the Aliens Police of their place of residence in person or, if they are minors, through the person who requested their entry in Greece, an application for the issuance of a residence permit free-of-charge.
6. The above mentioned residence permit follows, as far as its duration and the other requirements for its renewal or revocation, the fate of the residence permit of the refugee, who invited the members of his family to Greece.
7. The residence permit granted to the refugee's family members can be revoked at any time, if it is proved that it has been granted following forgery or use of false documents.
8. The Office of the UNHCR Representative in Greece is duly informed of the issuance of such residence permits to refugee family members.
9. The family members of the recognized refugee who are certified to have entered the Greek territory before the entry into force of the present decree are exempted from the entry provisions foreseen in the present article, under the condition that these persons will in person present themselves to the locally competent Authorities within thirty (30) days of the date the present decree will enter into force, and will file an application for residence permit. Concerning all other matters, the provisions of paras. 5 and 8 of the present article are implemented accordingly.
Article 8. Residence permit for humanitarian reasons.
1. The alien, whose asylum application for the recognition of refugee status has been finally rejected, has however been granted temporary stay in Greece particularly on humanitarian grounds according to para. 4 of article 2 of Law 2452/1996, as substituted by Art. 2 of Law 2452/1996, is provided, free-of-charge, by the locally competent Police Authority with a special residence card for humanitarian reasons, valid for one year. A similar card is provided to his family members. The holder of such a card is obliged to depart from Greece without further notification by the date of expiration of the validity of his card. This rule is not imposed on an alien who, at least 15 days before the expiration of his card, submits through the locally competent Police Authority of his place of residence, an application for renewal of the validity of his card for one more year. The General Secretary of the Ministry of Public Order is the body competent to decide on such applications.
2. For the approval and issuance of a residence permit on humanitarian grounds the following conditions are particularly taken into consideration : a) objective impossibility of removal or return of the alien to his country of origin or usual residence due to «force majeure» (e.g. serious health reasons of the alien or of members of his family, international embargo imposed on his country, civil war followed by mass violations of human rights etc.) b) the fulfillment of the requirements of the non-refoulement clause of article 3 of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights and the Protection of Fundamental Freedoms (ratified by L.D. 53/1974, Official Gazette 256) or of article 3 of the New York (10.12.1984) International Convention Against Torture (ratified by Greece by L. 1782/1988).
3. Provisions of para. 13 of Art. 2 of the present Decree are implemented accordingly to aliens who are granted a residence permit for humanitarian reasons.
Article 9. Annulment of provisions.
The entry into force of the present Decree annuls the provisions of P. D. 83/1993 (A' - 36).
Article 10. Entry into force.
This decree enters in force sixty days after its publication in the Official Gazette.
The Minister of Public Order is charged with the publication and execution of the present decree.
Athens, 30 March 1999
The President of the Republic
of Foreign Affairs, Giorgos Papandreou
of Public Order, Michail Chryssochoidis
and the Deputy Minister of Finance, Nik. Christodoulakis
Laissez Passer to by used according to the Dublin Convention
This 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.