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A European Union court rejected a landmark case brought by a Syrian family who alleged it was unlawfully deported by the bloc’s Frontex border agency, a ruling that deals a major blow to asylum seekers and their advocates, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The case centers on a Syrian family who arrived in Greece in 2016 during the bloc’s refugee crisis when more than a million people crossed the EU’s borders, many of them from Syria and Iraq. The family filed for asylum and received confirmation that its claim was registered.

But days after the confirmation, they were all deported to Turkey without explanation and then detained. The family later fled to Iraq.

The Syrian family filed suit, arguing that Frontex has a duty to monitor compliance with human rights laws while carrying out its duties.

But in its verdict Wednesday, the General Court of the European Union sided with Frontex, ruling that the agency is not responsible for screening people being forcibly removed from the EU. It added that EU nations alone are responsible for assessing “the merits of return decisions and to examine applications for international protection.”

The decision marks a setback for asylum seekers, their lawyers and migration advocates, who hoped that the case would raise awareness about unlawful deportations and hold EU agencies accountable.

It also comes amid concern about human rights violations at Europe’s borders, as well as an increasingly hostile climate for migrants and asylum seekers around the world.

Meanwhile, Frontex welcomed the decision, adding that details of the case will allow it “to continuously improve our return procedures, ensuring that all individuals affected are treated with utmost respect.”

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