Greece’s top court says asylum appeal committees are constitutional

Greece’s Council of State (CoS) rejected an appeal by two NGOs which challenged the constitutionality and independence of the Greek appeal committees formed after June 2016 which look into the asylum applications.

The Greek Council for Refugees and the Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Migrants and Refugees argued that the same administrative judges that decide on the appeal committees are also sitting in the courts that review those rulings.

The CoS’s plenum said in its 1237 and 1238/2017 rulings that the Constitution (article 89) allows active judges of administrative courts to sit in the appeal committees. It also ruled that a provision (4375/2016) allowing judges participating in these committees to be selected by the general commissioner of the administrative courts instead of the judicial council does not violate article 90 of the constitution.

The court also found that the fact that judges participating in these committees may later sit in appeals courts does not violate the principle of impartiality.

The court did not decide on whether Turkey could be deemed a “safe third country”.