IATE term of the week: Safe third country

October 16, 2015 12:54 pm

safe third country

Perhaps not everyone knows what a “safe third country” exactly is. Yet, in the past month, and more particularly during the last week, the concept of safe third country has been the focus of an international political and ethical debate that is still ongoing.

Just a few days ago, for example, European Parliament President Martin Schulz opened the October plenary session in Brussels. Following the recent bomb attack on peaceful demonstrators in Ankara, ahead of the elections – a major terrorist strike which left nearly 100 dead and over 500 wounded – he said that “the EU and Turkey are in a dialogue to find a common solution to the refugee situation. Current dramatic events and developments are bound to influence the ongoing debate on Turkey’s status as a safe third country.”

The safe third country concept is currently incorporated in the German constitution (Grundgesetz) and better defined in the Asylum Procedures Act.1, which says:

“By definition of the law, all Member States of the European Union are safe third countries. In addition, a list of further safe third countries can be drawn up. In those countries the application of the 1951 Refugee Convention and of the European Convention on Human Rights has to be ‘ensured’. (…) The Federal Government is entitled to remove a country from that list if changes in its legal or political situation ‘give reason to believe’ that the requirements for a safe third country are not met any longer. At present, the list of further safe third countries consists of Norway and Switzerland. From its wording, the safe third country concept only applies to the German (constitutional) asylum, but the Federal Constitutional Court found in a landmark decision in 1996 that its scope extends to refugee protection and to other forms of protection as well. (…) Accordingly, asylum-seekers can be sent back to safe third countries with neither an asylum application, nor an application for international or national protection being considered. Today the safe third country concept has its main impact at land borders: border police shall refuse entry if a foreigner, who has entered from a safe third country, requests asylum at the border. Furthermore, border police shall immediately initiate removal to a safe third country if an asylum-seeker is apprehended at the border without the necessary documents. (…) Asylum applications may not be accepted or referred to the responsible authority by the border police if entry to the territory is denied, unless it turns out that Germany is responsible for processing the asylum procedure based on EU law, e.g. because Germany has issued a visa.”

As a result, meaning in light of recent events and current, recurring debates, TermCoord decided to adopt safe third country as its IATE term of the week.

safe third country screenshot 2

(You can find all the languages in which the term is already available here.)

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Written by Eva Barros Campelli

Communication Trainee

Trained Journalist at the London School of Journalism

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