ECtHR rules Greece should not remove 56 Turkish asylum seekers who fear pushback

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled that 56 Turkish asylum seekers who crossed from Turkey into Greece early Monday morning and were afraid of being pushed back “should not be removed,” Turkish Minute reported, citing the TR724 news website.

The asylum seekers, who include six children, are facing imprisonment in Turkey on trumped-up terrorism charges as part of a crackdown launched by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the aftermath of a coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The Strasbourg court on Tuesday decided on an interim measure, indicating to the Greek government that the group should not be removed from Greece until July 11, 2023, under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court.

The court may, under Rule 39 of its Rules of Court, indicate interim measures to any state party to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Interim measures are urgent measures which, in accordance with the established practice of the court, apply only where there is an imminent risk of irreparable damage.

“… failure of a Contracting State to comply with a measure indicated under Rule 39 may entail a breach of Article 34 (effective exercise of the right of individual application) of the Convention,” the court said.

According to the article, the ECtHR may receive applications from any person, nongovernmental organization or group of individuals claiming to be the victim of a violation by one of the “High Contracting Parties” of the rights set forth in the convention or the protocols thereto and they undertake not to hinder in any way the effective exercise of this right.

The court’s decision of interim measure came after an application submitted by ASSEDEL (L’Association européenne pour la défense des droits et des libertés), a Strasbourg-based non-profit.

On March 27 the ECtHR also indicated interim measures to the Greek government regarding the case of seven Turkish asylum seekers –- including a child – and said that they “should not be removed and should be provided with food, water and adequate medical care, as needed,” until further notice.

Migration from Turkey to Europe and other Western countries has intensified since 2016 due to the Turkish government’s purge of political opponents in the wake of the 2016 coup attempt. Most of the Turks seeking asylum in Western countries are reportedly sympathizers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen.

Thousands of people fled Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt carried out by the Turkish government against alleged members of the Gülen movement after the coup attempt. Many have tried to leave Turkey illegally since the government had canceled the passports of thousands of people.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the coup attempt. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

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