Concrete steps about the automatic residence permit on humanitarian grounds
Automatic granting residence permit on humanitarian grounds for pink card holders: concrete steps about the procedure and its consequences
A major reflexion that came out from the GFR working group is that legislation is essential for refugees’ rights, though in practice, few refugees are aware of the changes impacting their legal situation and many times their everyday life.
The first essential focus that the working group decided to undertake is a law simplification concerning the provision for asylum seekers with the pink card. The new law of April 2016¹ grants automatically the residence status on humanitarian ground for all the refugees that possess a pink card for more than 5 years. After being granted with the residence permit, beneficiaries have two months to submit an application at the Services of the Greek Police, to continue their appeal application for international protection application if they wish.
However, the working group denounced a complete absence of information of pink cards’ holder on this change of legislation and new procedure.
As a consequence the working group regrets the followings :
This disposition is a first step, far from being satisfying according to the working group.
First, granting this residence permit to pink card’ holders is seen as a solution from the authorities to resolve the “pink card holder’s” issue, where the Greek authorities have failed in their international and national engagement towards refugees. However, once again, these people are paying again the authorities’ failure, if apparently it offers relief and stable situation, in practice it does not.
The grant of residence permit on humanitarian ground is not based on an individual assessment in terms of the international protection standards. This means that asylum seekers who could qualify for international protection are being thrown in a procedure that does not offer them the guarantee that these protection provide.
After the 2 years of validity, these people will need to renew their card in order to have papers in Greece. At that time, there won’t be an assessment on their country of origin as they do not have an international protection. In case the residence permit will not be renewed, these persons will be let without papers and with an obligation of leaving the Greek territory, with nowhere to go – as “refugees” cannot go back to their country of origin safely.
Second, the possibility of continuing the appeal procedure is insufficient. The appeal will be examined, in case the appeal is being refused, all asylum applicants can apply to the new asylum services but their application will be processed only if they bring new evidence to their case. This possibility is insufficient as since then Greece did not have an effective system to examine international protection applications, and the authorities should offer the opportunity to the pink card holders’ to access directly the appropriate asylum service with no condition for its examination.
The working group judges these measures insufficient, there is need of finding a solution on that situation that lasted for too long. However, the authorities should not try “to get rid of” these persons that are refugees and effectively inform them on the choices they have concerning this procedure.
¹Law number 4375/2016 On the organization and operation of the Asylum Service, the Appeals Authority, the Reception and Identification Service, the establishment of the General Secretariat for Reception”, of the 3rd of April 2016.