France deported four Afghans back to Bulgaria on Monday under the Dublin Regulation which allows asylum seekers to be sent back to the first country of arrival in Europe. Lawyers fear that these Afghans will now be deported back to their country of origin, as Bulgaria has not suspended its deportations to Afghanistan despite the Taliban takeover.
The Strasbourg Bar Association in eastern France has condemned the return of four Afghans by France to Bulgaria under the Dublin Regulation which allows asylum seekers to be sent back to the first country of arrival in Europe.
The association points out that the Afghan nationals risk being returned to their country of origin. Bulgaria has not suspended deportations to Afghanistan despite the Taliban's seizure of power last August.
Deportation 'in defiance of a court decision'
Moreover, according to the Strasbourg Bar Association, this expulsion organized by the Bas-Rhin prefecture was done in "defiance of a court decision".
"The Bar Association is indignant that the administration, despite generating a lot of publicity, is removing vulnerable Afghan nationals in this manner," said Christina Kruger, President of the Strasbourg Bar Association, in a statement.
On Sunday, September 26, a Strasbourg judge ordered the release of these four nationals placed in the administrative detention center (CRA) of Geispolsheim (Bas-Rhin).
The prosecutor's office appealed this decision, and a hearing at the Colmar Court of Appeal was scheduled for Monday afternoon. "But without even waiting for the court hearing, the services of the prefecture forced the Afghan detainees to take a plane to Bulgaria at dawn on Monday morning," said Kruger.
About 20 Afghans sent back under the Dublin Regulation
When questioned about this, the prefecture claimed that "the public prosecutor's appeal was suspended, which allows this operation to be carried out legally."
But they are remaining silent on the questions surrounding the fate of asylum seekers on their arrival in Bulgaria.
At the end of August, the city of Strasbourg welcomed a hundred Afghan asylum seekers fleeing the Taliban regime. "Taking in these Afghan nationals is fully in line with our country's tradition of welcoming people, as well as respecting our laws and regulations," said Josiane Chevalier, the prefect of Bas-Rhin.
Since the change of regime in Afghanistan, "about 20" of these nationals have been "transferred to another European country under the Dublin Regulation," the interior ministry said in mid-September.