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In this report, "migrants" is the general term used to refer to people who are in Greece either temporarily or permanently. It includes those migrants who move voluntarily and those who feel impelled to leave because of the economic and social hardships they face in their home country as well as refugees.
- The legalization documents used by the state to classify foreign nationals into different categories of regularity are coloured red, yellow, and green.
- Discrimination has also cast a dark shadow over the local authorities’ treatment of their Roma constituents whom they forcibly evicted shortly before the Summer Olympic Games of 2004, and just as the organizers extolled visitors to "catch the light" through walks in the centre of Athens, the main Olympic site.
- Comparative research shows that Greece has some of the lowest asylum application rates in Europe.
- A major source of concern is the absence of access to an independent review in substance of a rejected application.
- Another major problem faced by applicants is the inability to communicate with the authorities.(19) A key factor contributing to this is the lack of adequate interpretation provisions. On the day of Amnesty International’s visit to the Asylum Unit in Athens, one Mandarin-speaker was conducting interviews with all of the applicants, regardless of nationality, often with the help of other applicants acting as interpreters in a second or third language.
- Legal aid is not available to applicants at any stage of the process, apart from the aid provided by the Greek Council for Refugees and which only provides legal representation for applicants whose applications have been rejected at the second stage and whose applications are to be subject to a procedural review by the Council of State.
- One of the most worrying aspects of the asylum legislation in Greece is the provision which allows the authorities to "interrupt" the examination of asylum claims. Article 2.8 of the Presidential Decree (PD) 61/99 states that "in case of arbitrary departure [of the applicant from their stated place of residence], 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, [henceforth] considered as a person ‘of unknown residence’.
- In practice, the major problem in the asylum determination process is the length of time taken for reviewing applications. Because of the backlog of applications, a secondary procedure exists that precedes the formal lodging of an asylum application, whereby prospective applicants are asked to visit the Athens Asylum Department often for months before their applications can be lodged.
- This apparently blanket rejection of applications at first instance exacerbates the delay in processing the applications and effectively renders this first stage of the examination process discountable
- Even though none of the detention centres visited is officially classified as a prison, the conditions under which they operate are undoubtedly prison-like.(48) Detainees are not allowed access to the outside, apart from exceptional occasions (e.g. for medical emergencies, when they are transferred under police escort to the nearest hospital). Access of outsiders to the centres is severely restricted
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