Today, Amnesty International, the Boat Refugee Foundation (in Dutch: Stichting Bootvluchteling) and Defence for Children issued a writ of summons against the State of the Netherlands for adopting and implementing the EU-Turkey deal. The organisations hold the State liable for violations of the fundamental rights of persons who, as a result of the closing of the deal on 18 March 2016, were and are forced to stay in reception camps on the Greek islands in conditions that do not meet the minimum standards applicable under Union law.

By closing the deal, it was agreed that the asylum procedures for all persons that crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to the Greek islands, would be handled on those islands. The purpose of the deal was to declare these applications inadmissible, and then send everyone that arrived on the Greek islands back to Turkey.

Even before the deal was closed, various parties including the plaintiffs in this case, warned about the implications the deal would have.  They noted that Greece would not be able to provide adequate reception facilities and asylum procedures for the people on the islands. It was also clear for the State that it was uncertain whether it would be possible to send people back to Turkey, because it was unsafe for refugees there. In spite of this, the State was committed to closing the deal.

Almost immediately after the closing of the deal, the reception camps on the Greek islands became overcrowded. People were forced to stay in unsafe and filthy camps, where there was a lack of shelter, food, medical care and sanitary facilities. Internal documents show that even though the State was aware of the situation on the islands, it continued to support the deal and opposed measures that would have brought some relief such as transferring people to the Greek mainland. Even now, eight years later, the fundamental rights of persons on the islands continue to be violated. Additionally, the camps are in danger of becoming overcrowded again.

The organizations want the State to be held accountable for the large-scale violations of fundamental rights of persons on the islands from 2016 onwards, and demand that the deal is executed in accordance with international and European law. Insofar as this proves to be impossible, the State should withdraw from the deal.

The writ of summons for this case is available (in Dutch) via >> this link <<   The annexes to the writ of summons are available upon request.

The plaintiffs in these proceedings are represented by Lisa-Marie Komp, Tom de Boer and Marieke van Eik.

opvangkamp Griekse eilanden istock

[Source: iStock]

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