Greece's relevant public order minister on Thursday charged that an determined number of physicians in the country, all with private practices, have provided "thousands" of diagnoses towards third country nationals that illegally entered the country, ostensibly to allow them to avoid readmission to Turkey in favor of transportation to the Greek mainland from a handful of eastern Aegean islands.
Michalis Chrysohoidis, whose portfolio is officially called citizens' protection, made the allegation during debate in a Parliament committee regarding a draft law on revising the current asylum framework, mostly towards an accelerated process and stricter conditions for approval.
Chrysohoidis, a one-time top PASOK party minister who also held the same post before 2004, charged that private practice physicians provided documentation later accepted by asylum services, mostly diagnoses of post-traumatic stress. As a result, he added, irregular migrants that submitted such documentation were considered as being in "at risk" groups.
"...the previous law led to an undetermined number of third country nationals remaining in the country without any legal reason ... of which more than half of those whose application was examined, are not protected but are left to (criminal) rings that exploit them. Moreover, authorities (subsequently) cannot locate them, with the result being that they're not returned to their home countries," he said.
One of the more high-profile revisions included in the draft law abolishes post-traumatic stress as a reason for vulnerability - in line with the legal framework followed in most other west European countries. Rather, a special written rationale will be required in medical confirmations.
Additionally, the minister said nearly 157,000 asylum applications have been submitted since 2016, of which some 40,000 were approved. At this point, he asked out loud where the remaining 115,000 applicants have gone.