Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Swedish Migration Board report on EASO's Operating Plan for Greece

Yesterday I submitted a document request to the EU Commission, requesting a copy of the Operating Plan signed between EASO and the Greek government. The Operating Plan is the document that contains all the details regarding the deployment of the asylum support team to Greece...duration, nature, targets, activities, etc. Its signing was earlier reported on this blog, here.

Until I receive a response from the Commission, I can relate other information I just received from Sweden. In preparation for the deployment to Greece, EASO sent a number of planning missions in order to asses the situation, identify areas requiring support and ultimately formulate the deployment parameters. Thanks to a Swedish reader, I got hold of the report written by the Swedish Migration Board following these planning missions.

The report, a total of 11 pages, is in Swedish and I am in the process of having parts of it translated. From a very preliminary reading of what I could translate, it seems that the report is quite critical of the Greek authorities and it not too optimistic about the outcome of EASO’s support. But more on that once the document is translated.

There are 3 annexes to the report, 2 of which are in English and which are being posted here until everything else is translated.

Annex 1 EASO Deployment of expertise is a list explaining the proposed content of the support team. It specifies the nature of expertise, coupled with corresponding information per expert, namely the estimated commencement date; the number of needed experts and the deployment duration. The list of expertise includes: interpreters; 1st Instance measures; European Asylum Curriculum training; COI training; backlog management for administrative and IT issues; Asylum Service management support, including management and leadership training; training, planning and strategisation for first reception centres; vulnerable groups; detention centres design, layout and management; funding.

Beyond the obvious and expected expert sectors, such as interpreters and asylum procedure input, I am quite surprised to see that the proposals include EASO offering support for detention centres! The detention of asylum-seekers is not an exclusively Greek practice, yet Greece has been particularly targeted (together with Malta in many cases) for the terrible conditions in which persons are detained. The Reception Directive, regrettably, does not prohibit the detention of asylum-seekers and detention measures are also given the thumbs up in the Returns Directive.

Yet its unpleasant character and possible lack of conformity with ECHR standards remains undeniable and I hope that EASO’s efforts at improving Greece’s detention centres are coupled with high-level discussions on seeking alternatives to detention, especially for vulnerable persons.

Annex 2 EASO Operating Plan Indicative Deployment Timeline is an Excel sheet with 3 sections. The first replicates the information in the above-mentioned Annex 1. The second and third sections focus on the timelines related to the various deployment sections. Although the deployment is intended to last for a period of 2 years, the timeline in this document relates to the activities for the first year.

As mentioned, in the coming days I’ll also post the full Swedish report. Hopefully, I’ll also receive and upload a copy of the final Operating Plan from the Commission.

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