European leaders could be made to rethink the “messy” EU-Turkey migration deal thanks to a decision that branded the country “unsafe for migrant return”, human rights expert Neil Falzon said yesterday.

Speaking during a migrant integration conference organised by the Malta Humanist Association, Dr Falzon welcomed news that Turkey had been recognised as unsafe for migrants.

“This is definitely a step in the right direction. Hopefully it will mean the messy EU-Turkey deal is revisited and reworked,” he said.

A Greek migration appeals committee on Wednesday upheld an appeal from a Syrian refugee against a rejected asylum application, deeming that Turkey was not fit for migrant relocation.

The decision was immediately hailed by human rights activists the world over as a sign of hope.

Many believe it could set the ball in motion for a redrafting of the maligned deal that returns migrants who have arrived in the EU to Turkey.

READ: Malta opposes fast-tracking Turkish visa-free travel

The Syrian national, who had arrived on the Aegean island of Lesbos from neighbouring Turkey, appealed for asylum but saw his appeal rejected and faced deportation to Turkey. However, a committee of judges that rules on rejected asylum applications deemed that the Syrian should not be deported.

There will now begin the lengthy process of having his application reviewed.

Dr Falzon, who heads human rights NGO Aditus, said the decision could set a precedent. Enough decisions like this one could force leaders to rethink the deal, as they would render it obsolete.

Dr Falzon said that rather than focusing on relocating migrants, European leaders should come together to set up legal channels to enter the EU.

It was not only activists who had criticised the deal locally. Speaking after it was signed, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said it had merely resolved one of the migration problem routes and shifted pressure on to countries like Egypt and Libya.

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