(CN) – European Union countries may not transfer asylum-seekers to other member nations with immigrant-rights concerns, Europe’s top tribunal ruled.
The United Kingdom referred the case to the Court of Justice for the European Union after six refugees filed for asylum there and sought to prevent being sent back to Greece, their original illegal entry point to the EU.
EU asylum policy is governed by common regulations known as Dublin II. Designed to prevent “asylum shopping,” the measures say that only one member nation is responsible per applicant – usually the country where that person originally entered the EU.
For the present case, involving asylum-seekers from Afghanistan, Iran and Algeria, third parties submitted comments noting that Greece acts as the point of entry for 90 percent of illegal immigrants into the EU. Requiring Greece to take responsibility for all of these people would be a disproportionate burden, they pointed out.
Greece, which has come under fire for poor conditions at migrant-detention centers, also has problems processing applications for asylum and a poor record for granting it.
The Luxembourg-based Court of Justice ruled that EU countries cannot transfer refugees to countries known to be violating human rights on asylum issues.
A country cannot assume that member states are fulfilling human rights standards, the court added. A transfer to another member state should be considered in light of rights violations, and this should not take too long, the court concluded.
The ruling follows a nonbinding adviser opinion from September.