ATHENS: Greek judges accused the country’s government Wednesday of restricting refugees’ rights by scrapping appeals for those who are denied asylum.
Thousands of migrants fleeing conflict and repression have ended up in Greece over recent years, many of them in overcrowded camps.
The conservative government that took office in July has said it will abolish appeals boards that review rejected asylum claims.
The Greek Union of Administrative Magistrates in a statement on Wednesday branded that move a “restriction of refugees’ rights” in breach of international law.
Migrant arrivals in Greece spiked in August, with around 11,000 people sheltering on the island of Lesbos last month, according to the United Nations.
The government announced a string of measures, ranging from strengthening border controls to abolishing the appeals boards.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s government says the aim is to reduce delays in asylum review procedures.
The magistrates said “these delays are not exclusively a Greek phenomenon” and they take place in all European countries.
The asylum appeal boards were created at the height of the migration crisis in 2015.
Judges say they have been successful in protecting refugees’ rights.
The government has promised to speed up the return of rejected asylum-seekers to Turkey under a 2016 EU-Turkey deal.
Campaigners have criticised that deal, saying that asylum seekers’ safety is not guaranteed if they are returned to Turkey.
The Greek Council for Refugees, an NGO, has called on the government to “refrain from any act that violates European and international law and safeguard the fundamental rights of refugees”.