German court rules Turkey is not a safe third country for return of Syrian refugee

A regional court in Germany ruled to suspend the transfer of a Syrian national to Greece due to the risk being he would be returned to Turkey, which it said did not meet the safe third country requirements set for asylum seekers, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported on Friday. 

The German authorities apprehended the applicant following a border police check on June 13 and placed him detention. Proceedings were then launched to return the Syrian, who had previously applied for asylum on the Greek island of Kos in 2018. His application was declined as Turkey was considered the first country of asylum. 

The Bavarian court which examined the man’s appeal against his transfer to Greece said the Syrian might be returned to Turkey which did not meet the requirements of a safe country described in an EU directive on asylum seekers. 

The court said Turkey did not sufficiently implement the Geneva Convention, the main international instrument of refugee law. It said Turkey did not grant protection status to all asylum seekers and that it granted Syrian nationals “temporary protection” instead. 

DW said it was uncertain how the court’s decision would affect the fate of a refugee deal between Turkey and the EU agreed in 2016 to cut the influx of Syrian refugees arriving in Greece. A key provision of the deal was that immigrants arriving on Greek islands would be returned to Turkey unless they applied for and received asylum in Greece. 

According to official figures there are 3.6 million Syrian nationals in Turkey under temporary protection. Refugee rights advocates in recent weeks have ben accusing Turkey of returning Syrians to their homeland involuntarily.