Greek government breaking law, EU going along with it: Human Rights Watch

Tue, 18 Oct 2022 5:33 GMT
EU’s border agency ‘acquiesces to Greece’s illegal, and often violent, pushbacks of migrants and asylum seekers' from Greece to Türkiye, says Andrew Stroehlein
Greek government breaking law, EU going along with it: Human Rights Watch

Greece is breaking the law by continuing to allow Greek authorities to illegally push back migrants and asylum seekers to Türkiye, and the European Union is “going along with it,” a representative of a global human rights watchdog said Monday.

"The EU’s border agency, Frontex, acquiesces to Greece’s illegal, and often violent, pushbacks of migrants and asylum seekers" from Greece to Türkiye, said Andrew Stroehlein, European media director of Human Rights Watch, on Twitter, sharing a leaked report from the European anti-fraud office, OLAF.

“The EU leadership might tell you this is old news,” he said. “The OLAF report circulated internally earlier this year, and its documentation of past crimes has already led to the resignation of (the) head of Frontex.”

“The same crimes are still happening today,” he noted.

“Greek authorities are still illegally pushing people back to Turkey, and Frontex continues to operate in Greece the same as before,” he added.

Stroehlein noted that Greek "authorities (and their proxies) are assaulting, robbing, and stripping asylum seekers and migrants, including children, before summarily pushing them back to Turkey.”

Frontex, whose mandate requires personnel to respect fundamental rights, stands by and does nothing,” he added. “The European Commission, which should be opening legal proceedings against the Greek government for violating EU laws, looks the other way.”

He underscored that everyone pursuing protection “has a right to apply for asylum and should be given that opportunity. People can’t just be shoved back across a border with no legal process, and they can’t be subjected to violence.”

Pushbacks involving the Greek coast guard and Frontex have been reported by the media since 2020.

According to the OLAF report, Frontex has been withholding cases of possible human rights violations from its own fundamental rights officers, suspending aerial surveillance to avoid recording illegal activities, co-financing Greek units that carried out pushbacks, and misleading the authorities responsible for overseeing the agency.

In recent years, Frontex has come under fire for alleged mistreatment of migrants, often endangering their lives.

Türkiye and global rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece's illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.

Earlier this year, Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri resigned amid the scandal.

Human rights groups have also documented other human rights violations on EU borders where Frontex operates.


Related News

Address: Miaouli 7-9, Xanthi 67100, GREECE.
Tel: +30 25410 77968.