Pushbacks In Greece: Comprehensive Clarification Required

World
Wed, 29 Jun 2022 7:59 GMT
In Greece, refugees are said to have been forced to push back other migrants at the border. Politicians are now demanding an investigation into the reports of illegal pushbacks – and are bringing up sanctions. After research by an international team of jo...
Pushbacks In Greece: Comprehensive Clarification Required

In Greece, refugees are said to have been forced to push back other migrants at the border. Politicians are now demanding an investigation into the reports of illegal pushbacks – and are bringing up sanctions.

After research by an international team of journalists revealed that refugees under pressure were used as pushback helpers in Greece, calls for a comprehensive investigation grew louder.

European Commission spokeswoman Anitta Hipper has urged an investigation into what is happening at the border. Since there is currently no talk of violations of the law, she has not announced any further consequences for the time being.

Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also commented on the report via tweet, for which employees of the BR, the research agency Lighthouse Reports, the “Spiegel”, the French newspaper “Le Monde” and the British “Guardian” had researched for months. The events at the EU’s external borders made her “deeply affected”, wrote the Green politician and also called for a complete clarification of the events. Baerbock not only referred to the research from Greece, but also to the recent attack on the Spanish exclave of Melilla, in which at least 23 people died.

Pressure from threats and promises

The research in Greece is based on testimonies from several refugees who describe how they were forced by the police to carry out so-called pushbacks – i.e. pushing other refugees across the borders back out of the EU area. The police threatened imprisonment and deportation, and at the same time promised those affected documents that would allow them to stay in Greece for a limited period of time. The refugees’ statements can be verified by documents and satellite images, and they have also been confirmed by Greek police circles.

According to European law, Greece is obliged to start an asylum procedure for those seeking protection who reach Greek territory. Like some other EU countries, the Greek government has been systematically ignoring this regulation for years.

Goering-Eckardt does not rule out sanctions

“Using refugees in need as helpers for illegal pushbacks is deeply inhuman and violates all rule of law,” criticized the Vice President of the Bundestag, Katrin Göring-Eckardt, in the newspapers of the Funke media group. The EU should not turn a blind eye to Greece’s brutal actions. An independent investigation is now needed and possible sanctions by the EU against Greece should not be ruled out.

FDP parliamentary secretary Stephan Thomae also sharply condemned the practice described: “It is outrageous to exploit refugees in this way.” It is the task of the European border protection agency Frontex to prevent such incidents at the EU’s external borders in the future. At the same time, Thomae called for further migration and repatriation agreements with the refugees’ countries of origin. In this way, “the brutal and inhumane practice of pushbacks” could possibly be prevented.

“The abyss of practice cannot be surpassed”

As early as April, the Council of Europe had warned in a study that the practice of illegal pushbacks at the EU’s external borders was in danger of becoming entrenched and becoming a systematic problem.

In view of the current reports from Greece, the human rights commissioner of the German government, Luise Amtsberg, emphasized to the journalists involved in the research that the practice of this unlawful rejection of refugees could not be surpassed “in terms of its abyss and perfidiousness”.

By David Sadler for GLOBE eco World News

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