Greece – Appeals Committee finds that Turkey is not a safe third country for a family of Syrian Kurds

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

On 25 September, the 9th Appeals Committee ruled in a case concerning a family of Syrian-Kurdish asylum seekers from Afrin. 

The family’s asylum application had been rejected due to Turkey being considered a safe third country for the applicants by the Greek Asylum Service. On appeal, the Committee focused upon the issue of the connection of the applicants with Turkey, a requirement for any assessment on safe third countries under Greek asylum law. The Committee noted the prominent position of this requirement in the domestic legislation, despite not being among the five principles set out in Article 38 (1) of Directive 32/2013, but rather an interpretative context for the application of the third country concept under Article 38 (2) a.

On consideration of the connection of the applicants with Turkey, the applicants’ origin from the city of Afrin was considered of essential significance by the Committee. As Turkey has been a de facto occupational force in the region of Afrin since January 2018, it has ceased being a “third” country and is rather a party in the ongoing conflict. The role of Turkey, as one of the actors shaping the future of the region and its inhabitants, has partly contributed to the need for the international protection of the applicants in question.

As a result, any possible existing connection between the applicants and Turkey has to be considered as ruptured by the exceptional circumstances created by Turkey’s recent military activity, making it unreasonable for the family to return there. The first-instance decision was annulled and their asylum application was considered admissible.

Based on an unofficial translation by the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. Many thanks to Stathis Poularakis, Lawyer and Editor of, for bringing this case to our attention. You can find an excerpt of the decision in Greek here.


This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA legal update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.



Safe third country