Dutch court says Netherlands must justify sending asylum seekers back to Greece

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The Dutch government must bolster its justification for sending refugees back to Greece, where they risk finding themselves in “inhumane situations”, the Netherlands’ highest administrative court said Wednesday.

The judgement by the Raad van State court followed two landmark cases brought by Syrian refugees who first received asylum in Greece, then travelled to the Netherlands and applied for asylum a second time.

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Their application was turned down by the Dutch government on the grounds that they already had asylum status in Greece.

“The asylum seekers however argued that the situation in Greece was so bad that they could not return there,” the court said in a statement.

New evidence and rapports showed that Greece “in practice often cannot prevent asylum holders ending up in inhumane situations in which it cannot provide basic needs such as food, shelter and running water,” the court added.

“Today’s judgements mean that the deputy minister must revisit the previous decision, or beef up the reasons for turning down their application.”

Since the start of an EU-funded initiative in April last year, 1,628 refugees, 1,531 asylum-seekers and 849 unaccompanied children have moved from Greece to other EU countries, United Nations agencies said last month.

Athens said in May the number of asylum seekers on its islands had fallen below 10,000 for the first time since Europe’s migration crisis began in 2015 -- down from nearly 20,000 people in November 2018.

Germany, France, Portugal, Finland, Belgium, Ireland, Norway, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Luxembourg have taken in those relocated, the UN agencies said.

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