By: Lissa O'Carroll | theguardian.com | 6 September 2023
Syrian refugee deported from Greece loses case against EU border agency
A Syrian refugee has lost a landmark case against the EU’s border protection agency, Frontex, after he and his family were forcibly deported from Greece before his asylum application was processed.
The ruling is seen as a major blow to efforts to make the operations of Frontex in Greece and other countries more transparent and accountable to the member states who employ them.
The Syrian man, his wife and four small children made the perilous journey via people-smugglers from war-torn Aleppo to Greece in 2016 but 11 days after making landfall they were flown to Turkey by Frontex.
The European court of justice dismissed his claim, noting that Frontex was not an agency responsible for asylum processes.
“Since Frontex does not have the power to assess the merits of return decisions or applications for international protection, that EU agency cannot be held liable for any damage related to the return of those refugees to [Turkey],” the court in Luxembourg ruled.
In 2016, the man and his family of young children ranging from one to seven years old, arrived by boat on the Greek island of Milos. After having been transferred to the island of Leros, they expressed their desire to lodge an application for international protection. However, after a joint return operation carried out by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) and Greece, they were transferred to Turkey. From there, they went to Iraq, where they have resided ever since, the court noted.
His case was brought by the Amsterdam lawyers Prakken d’Oliveira and supported by the Dutch Council for Refugees, the campaign group BKB, Sea-Watch Legal Aid Fund and Jungle Minds.
They said he had been a victim of a “pushback” by the Greeks and alleged that Frontex had both breached the rules on asylum procedures and violated children’s rights by separating the man and his wife from their family, including a one-year-old baby, during their flight to Turkey.