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28 African asylum seekers have applications rejected due to lack of interpreters in Lesvos

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The Regional Asylum Office (RAO) – the Greek government organisation responsible for implementing international, ratified protection laws – rejected 28 African asylum seekers from 15 to 20 November, due to a lack of interpreters.

Legal aid organisations expressed concerns over these actions, which go against Greek, European and International laws. Under these laws, it is mandatory to conduct an asylum interview for those seeking asylum, which is a universal human right under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The interview is viewed as an opportunity for asylum seekers to individually explain the specific reasons they were forced to leave their country, and assess whether they require any further protection.

The 28 individuals, all from Sub-Saharan African regions, had their asylum applications rejected before the interview stage, due to the RAO’s “inability to secure interpretation for languages spoken by the asylum seekers,” said the Legal Centre Lesvos.

The RAO stated the decision was because, “the asylum seekers did not attend a personal interview since repeated attempts to find interpretation services for the mother tongue and the language of communication of the asylum seeker proved unsuccessful.”

According to the Legal Centre Lesvos, the language they required interpreters for was Portugese.

The Legal Centre Lesvos released a statement which explained the downfalls of a lack of resources and the legal loopholes that go along with this.

“The Lesvos RAO follows practices that do not adhere to our legal acquis and breach national and EU law, which we believe is important to highlight. Moreover, these practices expose our country to future condemnations by European and international courts and institutions,” said The Legal Centre.

“We call on the competent Greek authorities to respect the law and take the necessary steps in order to revoke all the above decisions, to restitute the harm caused to the asylum seekers, and to refrain from similar practices in the future.”

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