Greece Council of State upholds Ministerial Decisions on education of refugee children and reaffirms their special needs

Thursday, March 1, 2018

On 1 March 2018, the third section of the Greek Council of State ruled in cases no. 469/2018 and no. 470/2018 regarding applications for annulment against Ministerial Decisions no. 180647/ΓΔ4no. 131024/Δ1184741/ΓΔ4 and 1400/ΓΔ4, which, inter alia, establish and organise programmes for the education of refugees placed in “reception centres”. The Ministerial Decisions detail the operational rules for the education of refugees, such as the criteria for the staffing and in which existing schools of elementary and secondary education they would take place. The complaints were brought by Parents and Guardianship Associations and parents of Greek children studying in the elementary and secondary schools who claimed, inter alia, that the Ministerial Decisions were violating their children’s right to education.

The Council of State rejected the applications in both cases on the basis of a lack of vested interest of the applicants in lodging the application for annulment. The Council of State emphasised that the decision regarding the school in which the programme for education of refugees will operate took into account a number of factors such as the number of refugee children, the availability of classrooms in the candidate school facilities and the compliance with the obligation of vaccination of refugee children attending school. The Council of State upheld the Greek Government’s interest of aiming for a smooth integration of the refugee children in Greek schools by means of the programmes enacted by the Ministerial Decisions. The integration would not be achieved if refugee children were immediately placed in the “regular” Greek school system, since this would not take into account the special need of refugee students (such as attention to their psychological needs caused by hardships they may have suffered and their lack of Greek language).

Therefore, the Council of State found the applications for annulment to be inadmissible due to a lack of vested interest, since the applicants did not have personal, immediate and present interest in requesting the annulment. The general interest in the protection of the “legal order” does not suffice, neither do future or possible interests. In this case, the Ministerial Decisions did not affect the children represented by the Associations for the sole reason that they are students in the schools where the programmes for the education of refugees operate.

We would like to thank Asterios Kanavos, LLM Candidate, International Migration and Refugee Law, Research Associate at VU Migration Law Clinic, for his kind assistance with translating and summarising these decisions. We would also like to thank Erika Kalantzi, ELENA Coordinator in Greece, for informing us about the decisions.

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Best interest of the child
Education (right to)