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EU court bars sending asylum seekers back to 'inhuman' Greece

media Spanish coastguards rescue Senegalese migrants, 2006 AFP

The European Union’s top court on Wednesday barred EU states from transferring asylum seekers to other EU countries where they could face “inhuman treatment”. The European Court of Justice sided with Afghan, Algerian and Iranian asylum seekers who challenged attempts to send them back to their EU entry point of Greece because of the squalor of its detention centres.

Under an agreement called Dublin II, EU countries may deport asylum seekers back to the EU nation where they first set foot.

The accord was designed to pressure countries on the EU’s external border to tighten frontier controls but it has not prevented Greece being overwhelmed by an influx of immigrants over its porous border with Turkey.

The United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, has said that migrants often endure “inhuman” conditions in filthy, overcrowded Greek detention facilities.

Earlier this year, the European Court of Human Rights ordered Belgium to pay damages to an Afghan migrant sent back to Greece.

In the case reviewed by EU judges, an Afghan resisted an attempt to send him back from Britain to Greece (his EU point of entry) on the grounds that this would infringe his fundamental rights.

Some 260,000 asylum requests were processed in 2010 in the EU. More than 75 percent of them were filed in six nations (Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Sweden).

30% of requests were accepted.

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