PROCEDURES AT FIRST INSTANCE (Law 4375 / CHAPTER C)

Law 4375 (Country: Greece)

On the organization and operation of the Asylum Service, the Appeals Authority, the Reception and Identification Service, the establishment of the General Secretariat for Reception, the transposition into Greek legislation of the provisions of Directive 2013/32/EC “on common procedures for granting and withdrawing the status of international protection (recast(” (L 180/29.6.2013), provisions on the employment of beneficiaries of international protection and other provisions

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CHAPTER C

PROCEDURES AT FIRST INSTANCE

Article 51

(Article 31 of the Directive)

Examination procedure

1. The Determining authority shall examine the applications for international protection in accordance with the basic principles and guarantees set in Chapter B under the regular or the accelerated procedure. The decision to examine a case with the accelerated procedure is specifically justified by the case handler, according to the provisions of paragraph 7 and shall not influence the assessment on the merits of the application for international protection. The accelerated procedure shall have as a sole effect to reduce the time limits according to what is specifically stipulated in the provisions of this Part.

2. The examination of the applications shall be concluded the soonest possible and, in any case, within six (6) months, where the regular procedure is applied, or three (3) in the cases of an accelerated procedure. Where an application is subject to the procedure laid down in Regulation (EU) No 604/2013, the time limit shall count from the moment Greece is determined as the state responsible for its examination in accordance with that Regulation, the applicant is on the territory of the country and his/her application for international protection has been taken up by the Asylum Service.

3. The above time limits may be extended for a period not exceeding a further 9 (nine) months, where:

a. Complex issues of fact and/or law are involved

b. A large number of aliens or stateless persons simultaneously apply for international protection, making it very difficult in practice to conclude the procedure within the six-month (6) time limit;

c. The delay can clearly be attributed to the failure of the applicant to comply with his/her obligations under Article 42 above.

4. By way of exception, the above time limits may be extended for a further period not exceeding three (3) months, where necessary due to exceptional circumstances and in order to ensure an adequate and complete examination of the application for international protection.

5. In cases where the examination exceeds the maximum time limit set in each case, the applicant has the right to request information by the competent Receiving Authorities concerning the timeframe within which the decision on the application is to be expected. Such provision of information shall not constitute an obligation for the above authorities to make a decision within a specific timeframe.

6. The competent Receiving Authorities may register and examine by priority applications for international protection which concern:

a. Individuals belonging to vulnerable groups in the meaning of article 14, paragraph 8 of this law or are in need of special procedural guarantees, or

b. Individuals who apply while in detention, who submit an application under Article 60, while staying at ports or airports transit zones of the country or remain within Regional Services of the Reception and Identification Service, or

c. Individuals who may be subject to the procedures of Regulation 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council, or

d. Individuals whose applications are reasonably assumed as well founded, or

e. Individuals whose applications may be considered as manifestly unfounded,

f. Individuals for whom the Hellenic Police, with a reasoned document, reports that they constitute a danger to national security or public order of the country,

g. individuals who submit subsequent applications for international protection, at the admissibility stage.

7. The Determining authority shall examine an application under the accelerated procedure when:

a. the applicant comes from a safe country of origin according to Article 57,

b. the application is manifestly unfounded. An application is characterized as manifestly unfounded where the applicant during the submission of the application and the conduction of the personal interview, invokes reasons that manifestly do not comply with the status of refugee or of subsidiary protection beneficiary, or where he/she has presented manifestly inconsistent or contradictory information, manifest lies or manifestly improbable information, or information which is contrary to adequately substantiated information to his/her country of origin, which render his/her statement of being a victim of persecution under P.D. 141/2013 as clearly unconvincing or

c. the applicant misled the authorities by presenting false information or documents or by withholding relevant information or documents regarding his/her identity and/or nationality which could adversely affect the decision

d. the applicant is likely that he/she has destroyed or disposed in bad faith documents of identity or travel which would help determine his/her identity or nationality, or

e. the applicant has submitted the application only to delay or impede the enforcement of an earlier or imminent deportation decision or removal by other means, or

f. the applicant refuses to comply with the obligation to have his/her fingerprints taken in accordance with relevant legislation.

 

Article 52

(Articles 14 to 17 and 34 of the Directive)

Personal interview

1. Before a decision is taken, the Determining Authority shall conduct a personal interview with the applicant, who is invited to it in accordance with the provisions of Article 40. Without prejudice to the provisions of regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council and to article 59 of this law, when there are indications in the administrative file of the case that the application for international protection may fall under the case of inadmissible applications as per article 54 below, the interview may be limited to the confirmation of the concurrence of these conditions and the applicant will be given the opportunity to react to this. Where, after the interview, the Determining Authority considers necessary to enter into the merits of the application for international protection, a supplementary interview shall take place.

2. The interview shall be conducted by the competent member of the staff of the Receiving Authority (case-handler) who shall have the necessary skills and shall take and issue the decision on the application for international protection. The Internal Regulation of the Asylum Service shall stipulate the process for the designation of the competent member of the staff (case-handler) by the head of each Regional Asylum Office or autonomous Asylum Unit.

3. The interview shall be conducted with the assistance of an interpreter, as defined in Article 41 par. 1b above, capable to ensure the necessary communication, in order for the applicant to confirm the facts stated in the application and to be able to fully explain the reasons which forced him/her to leave his/her country of origin, or, in the case of a stateless person, the country of previous habitual residence seeking protection, as well as the reasons why he/she does not want or cannot return and to provide explanations particularly regarding his/her personal history, including the history of his close relatives, identity, nationality, country and place of former residence, former applications for international protection, the routes he/she followed to enter the Greek territory and his/her travel documents.

4. During the interview, the Determining Authority shall give the applicant an adequate opportunity to present the elements needed to substantiate the application as completely as possible. This includes the opportunity to provide an explanation regarding elements, which may be missing and/or any inconsistencies or contradictions in the applicant’s statements.

5. Before the interview, the applicant, if he/she so wishes, is given a reasonable amount of time in order to sufficiently prepare and to consult a legal or other counsellor who shall assist him/her during the procedure. Such reasonable amount of time shall be set by the competent Receiving Authority and can be no more than seven (7) days or three (3) days when an interview takes place in accordance with Article 60, paragraphs 1-3 or when it concerns an applicant who is in a Reception and Identification procedure.

6. When the interview concerns a female applicant, special attention is taken so that the interview is conducted by a specialised female case handler, in the presence of a woman interpreter, if so requested. In any case, if the applicant has expressed a preference as to the gender of the case handler or the interpreter at a previous stage of the procedure, special attention to this objective shall be given. If this is not possible, the relevant reasons are stated in interview report or minutes.

7. A separate personal interview shall be conducted for every adult family member. When minors are concerned, the personal interview shall be conducted taking into consideration their maturity and psychological consequences of their traumatic experiences.

8. The personal interview may be omitted if the Determining Authority considers that, on the basis of evidence available, it is able to recognise the applicant as a refugee or if the interview is not possible due to objective reasons, in particular if the applicant is unfit or unable to be interviewed due to his young age or because of circumstances of a permanent nature beyond his/her will. This latter incapacity must be certified by a relevant certificate from a physician of relevant specialisation.

9. When the applicant or the family member is not provided with the opportunity of a personal interview, the Determining Authority shall endeavour to provide them with the possibility to submit supplementary information.

10. The omission of the personal interview in accordance with the previous paragraphs shall not adversely affect the decision by the Determining Authority nor shall it prevent the Determining Authority from making a decision on the application. In case the personal interview is omitted, the Determining Authority, in its decision, shall include the reasons justifying this omission.

11. The personal interview shall take place without the presence of the applicant’s family members, unless the case-handler deems their presence necessary.

12. The personal interview shall take place under conditions, which ensure appropriate confidentiality.

13. During the interview, the appropriate measures shall be taken to ensure that it is conducted under conditions, which allow the applicant to present comprehensively the grounds of the application. To that end:

a. Each case-handler must be sufficiently qualified to take into account the personal or general circumstances regarding the application, including the applicant’s cultural origin. In particular, case- handler shall be trained especially concerning the special needs of women, children and victims of violence and torture.

b. The selected interpreter must be able to ensure appropriate communication in a language understood by the applicant.

14. The interview shall be audio recorded while a report shall be drawn for every personal interview, which shall include the main claims of the applicant for international protection and all its essential elements. If the audio recording of the interview is not possible, a full report shall be taken. The applicant shall be invited, at the end of the interview, to confirm that he/she has nothing else to add and he/she shall not sign the report. The audio recording accompanies the report and is stored by the Determining Authority. Interviews conducted by teleconferencing shall obligatorily be audio recorded.

15. When an audio recording is not possible, the report shall include a full transcript of the interview. The applicant shall be invited to confirm the accuracy of the content of the report by signing it, with the assistance of the interpreter who also signs it, where present. In case an applicant refuses to confirm the content of the report, the reasons for this refusal shall be included in the report. The refusal of an applicant to approve the content of the report shall not prevent the Determining Authority from taking a decision on his/her application.

16. The applicant shall have the right to receive, at any time, copy of the transcript or the report drafted and the audio recording.

17. The above-mentioned guarantees shall also apply during the procedure for the examination of appeals, as well as during any supplementary examination or hearing.

18. The internal regulation of the Asylum Service may provide more details as to technical processes for conducting and audio recording interviews and teleconferences.

 

Article 53

(Article 18 of the Directive)

Medical examination

On condition that the applicant consents to it, the Receiving Authority or the Decision Authorities may refer him/her for a medical and/or psychosocial diagnosis where there are signs or claims, which might indicate past persecution or serious harm. These examinations shall be free of charge and shall be conducted by specialized scientific personnel of the respective specialisation and their results shall be submitted to the competent authorities as soon as possible. In any other case, applicants are informed that they may, on their own initiative and at their own costs, arrange for a medical examination and diagnosis concerning signs that might indicate past persecution or serious harm. The results of the above medical examinations/diagnosis shall be assessed by the competent Decision Authorities along with the other elements of the application.

Article 54

(Article 33 of the Directive)

Inadmissible applications

1. The Decision Authorities shall reject as inadmissible, with a relevant act, an application for international protection if:

a. another EU member state has granted the applicant international protection status or

b. another EU member state or a state bound by Council Regulation 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council has taken the responsibility to examine the relevant application, pursuant to this Regulation or

c. the applicant enjoys adequate protection by a country which is considered as a first country of asylum for him in the meaning of article 55 or

d. They deem that a country is considered a safe third country for the applicant, according to Article 56 or,

e. The application forms a subsequent application of the applicant and the preliminary examination, in accordance with Article 59 par. 2 below, has not revealed new substantial elements or

f. A member of the applicant’s family lodges a separate application, although the member has, in accordance with Article 36, already consented to include his/her case as part of an application made on his/her behalf and there are no facts, which justify a separate application.

2.  In the cases of paragraph 1 point (b) above, the Determining Authority shall also issue the relevant transfer decision according to Regulation 604/2013 (EU) of the European Parliament and of the Council.

 

Article 54

(Article 35 of the Directive)

First country of asylum

1. A country shall be considered to be a first country of asylum for an applicant provided that he/she will be re-admitted to that country, if the applicant has been recognised as a refugee in that country and can still enjoy of that protection or enjoys other effective protection in that country, including benefiting from the principle of non- refoulement.

2. In applying the concept of first country of asylum to a particular applicant, the content of Article 56, para. 1 shall be taken into account.

 

Article 56

(Article 38 of the Directive)

Safe third countries

1. A country shall be considered as a safe third country for a specific applicant when all the following criteria are fulfilled:

a. the applicant’s life and liberty are not threatened for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion,

b. this country respects the principle of non- refoulement, in accordance with the Geneva Convention,

c. the applicant is in no risk of suffering serious harm according to Article 15 of P.D. 141/2013,

d. the country prohibits the removal of an applicant to a country where he/she risks to be subject to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as defined in international law,

e. the possibility to apply for refugee status exists and, if the applicant is recognized as a refugee, to receive protection in accordance with the Geneva Convention and

f. the applicant has a connection with that country, under which it would be reasonable for the applicant to move to it.

2. The fulfilment of the above criteria shall be examined for each individual case and applicant separately. When issuing a decision, which is based solely on this article, the competent Receiving Authorities shall inform the applicant accordingly and shall provide him/her with a document informing the third country’s authorities that the application has not been examined on the merits.

3. Where the third country does not permit the applicant to enter its territory, the competent Decision Authorities shall examine the application on the merits.

4. The European Commission shall be informed, on an annual basis, by the competent bodies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about the countries deemed safe according to this Article.

 

Article 57

(Articles 36 and 37 of the Directive)

Safe countries of origin

1. Safe countries of origin are:

a. Those included in the common list of safe countries of origin by the Council of the EU.

b. Third countries, in addition to those of case (a), which are included in the national list of safe countries of origin and which shall be established and apply for the examination of applications for international protection and published in accordance with Article 7 paragraph 11 above, issued by a joint Ministerial Decision by the Ministers of Interior and Administrative Restructuring and Foreign Affairs. The JMD on the national list of safe countries of origin is issued following a recommendation by the Director of the Asylum Service, after an assessment by the Department of Training, Quality Assessment and Documentation and after an evaluation, according to the provisions set in paragraphs 3 and 4 below. This evaluation takes into account related information by other states and international organisations, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the European Asylum Support Office and the Council of Europe shall be taken into account for such evaluation. This evaluation shall be repeated periodically, taking into account changes occurring in each country. The national list of countries of origin shall be communicated to the European Commission by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

2. A country may be designated as a safe country of origin for a particular applicant only if, after an individual examination of the application, it is demonstrated that the applicant:

a. has the nationality of that country or is a stateless person and was previously a habitual resident of that country and

b. has not submitted any serious grounds for considering the country not to be a safe country of origin in his or her particular circumstances and in terms of his or her qualification as a beneficiary of international protection in accordance with the applicable provisions.

3. A country shall be considered as a safe country of origin if, on the basis of legislation in force and of its application within the framework of a democratic system and the general political circumstances, it can be clearly demonstrated that persons in these countries do not suffer persecution, generally and permanently, as defined in Article 9 of P.D. 141/2013, nor torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, nor threat resulting from the use of generalized violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict.

4. In applying the previous paragraph, account shall be taken, inter alia, of the extent to which protection is provided against persecution or ill-treatment through:

a. the relevant legal and regulatory provisions of the country and the manner of their application;

b. observance of the rights and freedoms laid down in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR – l.d. 53/74, O.G Α’ 256), the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (Law 2462/1997, O.G. A’ 25), in particular the rights from which derogation cannot be made under Article 15 par. 2 of the ECHR and the Convention against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Law 1782/1988 O.G. Α’ 116) and the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (law 2101/1992 O.G. A’ 192);

c. respect of the non-refoulement principle according to the Geneva Convention;

d. provision of a system of effective remedies against the violation of these rights and freedoms.

 

Article 58

(Article 32 of the Directive)

Unfounded applications

1. The competent Decision Authority shall reject an application as unfounded, if it has established that the applicant does not qualify for refugee or subsidiary protection status, according to the current provisions.

 

Article 59

(Articles 40 to 42 of the Directive)

Subsequent applications

1. In case of a subsequent application the competent Decision Authorities shall examine the details of the subsequent application in conjunction with the elements in the file of the initial application.

2. A subsequent application shall be initially examined at a preliminary stage during which it shall be examined whether new, substantial elements have arisen or are submitted by the applicant. During this stage the applicant shall submit in writing to the competent Receiving Authorities any new elements he/she provides without the realization of an interview. Exceptionally, the applicant may be invited, according to the provisions of this Part, to a hearing in order to clarify elements of the subsequent application, when the Determining Authority considers this necessary.

3. The competent Receiving Authorities shall ensure that applicants, whose application is being examined according to the provisions of the previous paragraph, enjoy the guarantees provided in Article 41 paragraph 1(a), (b), (c), (e) and (f). Until the conclusion of the administrative procedure for the examination of the application on the preliminary stage, all measures of deportation, return or other form of removal against the applicants shall be suspended. Similarly, during this stage, an extradition decision shall not be enforced, if the applicant claims fear of prosecution at the requesting state. 4. If, during the preliminary examination mentioned in paragraph 2, new substantial elements arise or are submitted by the applicant, which influence the judgement on the application for international protection, the application shall be deemed admissible and shall be further examined in conformity with the provisions of this Part; the applicant shall receive an International Protection Applicant’s Card. In the opposite case, the application shall be rejected as inadmissible

5. The procedure of this article may also apply if a family member of the applicant lodges an application after having consented, according to Article 36 par. 6, that his/her case shall be part of an application made on his/her behalf. In this case the preliminary examination, stated in paragraph 2 of this Article shall regard the eventual existence of evidence that justify the submission of a separate application by the depending person. In this case, an interview shall be conducted at the preliminary stage.

6. When an application for international protection is lodged before a final decision on a previous application by the same applicant has been issued, it shall be considered as a complementary element to the initial one and shall not be subject to the provisions of this Article.

7. Any new identical, subsequent application shall be filed by the Head of the competent Regional Asylum Office or autonomous Asylum Unit, in accordance with the provisions of Article 4 of the Code of Administrative Procedure.

8. Where an applicant with regard to whom a transfer decision has to be enforced pursuant to Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council, makes a subsequent application, it shall be examined by the responsible Member State, as defined in that Regulation.

 

Article 60

(Article 47 of the Directive)

Border procedures

1. Where applications for international protection are submitted in transit zones of ports or airports in the country, the applicants shall enjoy the rights and guarantees of the provisions of Articles 41, 44, 45 and 46 of this Part.

2. If a decision on the application is not taken within twenty eight (28) days from the date it was submitted, the applicant shall be allowed to enter and stay in the country and his/her application shall be examined in accordance with the other provisions of this law.

3. Without prejudice to the provisions of Article 46 above, in the cases of this article where an application for international protection is rejected and an order for deportation, return or readmission is issued the execution of which is suspended, by a decision of a court of law the applicant shall be allowed a stay in the country until the decision on the legal remedy is taken.

4. In case of third country nationals or stateless persons arriving in large numbers and applying for international protection at the border or at airport/ port transit zones or while they remain in Reception and Identification Centres, the following procedures shall exceptionally apply, following a relevant Joint Decision by the Minister of Interior and Administrative Reconstruction and the Minister of National Defence:

(a) The registration of applications for international protection, the notification of decisions and other procedure-related documents as well as the receiving of appeals may be conducted by staff of the Hellenic Police or the Armed Forces.

(b) In the implementation of procedures under (a) above, the Asylum Service may be assisted, in the conduct of interviews with applicants for international protection as well as any other procedure, by staff and interpreters deployed by the European Asylum Support Office.

(c) The time limit provided for in article 52, paragraph 5, shall be one (1) day. The time limit provided for in article 62, paragraph 2(c), shall be two (2) days. The time limits provided for in article 62, paragraph 3, regarding the invitation of the applicant to an oral interview as well for the submission of a memorandum after the examination of an appeal shall be one (1) day.

(d) Decisions on applications for international protection shall be issued, at the latest, the day following the day the interview is conducted and shall be notified to the individuals concerned, at the latest, the day following the day of issuance.

(e) Appeals shall be examined within three (3) days from their submission. Decisions on appeals shall be issued, at the latest, two (2) days following the day of the appeal examination or the submission of a memorandum and shall be notified to the individuals concerned, at the latest, the day following the day of their issuance. When the applicant requests  to be granted an oral   hearing, as per article 62, paragraph 1 (e) below, the Appeals Committee may, according to its judgement, invite or not the applicant to a hearing.

(f) Individuals falling under Articles 8 to 11 of EU Regulation 604/2013 of the Parliament and the Council as well as vulnerable persons under Article 14 paragraph 8 of this law shall be exempted from the procedures described above.

5. The joint Decision by the Minister of Interior and Administrative Reconstruction and the Minister of National Defence referred to in the previous paragraph may regulate the details for the implementation of this.

Content of the law

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