PRO ASYL stres­ses the wider Euro­pean complicity

The major fin­ding of the PRO ASYL inves­ti­ga­ti­on is that ille­gal push-backs from Greek sea and land bor­ders occur sys­te­ma­ti­cal­ly. Push-backs take place from Greek ter­ri­to­ri­al waters, the Greek islands and from the land bor­der. The majo­ri­ty of the vic­tims are refu­gees from Syria – men, women, child­ren, babies, and peop­le suf­fe­ring from seve­re ill­ness – try­ing to enter Euro­pe to seek inter­na­tio­nal pro­tec­tion or to reu­ni­te with their fami­lies who live in Ger­ma­ny, Swe­den, the United King­dom and various other Euro­pean coun­tries. While the EU publicly repeats its com­mit­ment to stand by Syri­an refu­gees, their fun­da­men­tal human rights are being vio­la­ted at the Euro­pean bor­der. Accord­ing to the inter­viewees’ eye­wit­ness accounts, it can be esti­ma­ted that over 2,000 per­sons were pushed back, given the make-up of the groups they tra­vel­led with.

The PRO ASYL report accu­ses the Greek government, the bor­der poli­ce and the coast­guard of the­se prac­ti­ces, and rai­ses the ques­ti­on of wider Euro­pean com­pli­ci­ty. The ent­i­re Greek asyl­um und migra­ti­on sys­tem reli­es on con­si­derable sup­port and fun­ding from the EU for its ope­ra­ti­on, and Fron­tex has been deploy­ed in the coun­try for years, yet the respon­si­ble decisi­on makers in Ber­lin, Vien­na and the rest of Euro­pe remain silent on the issue of human rights vio­la­ti­ons that the­se bodies are impli­ca­ted in.

Death in the Aege­an Sea- con­se­quence of the clo­sure of the land border

The shift in escape rou­tes from Evros regi­on to the Aege­an Sea, in respon­se to the clo­sure of the land bor­der in sum­mer 2012, has led to the deaths of many peop­le. 149 per­sons, most­ly Syri­an and Afghan refu­gees, and among them child­ren and pregnant women, have lost their lives in this stretch of water sin­ce August 2012.

The bru­ta­li­ty and the extent of vio­la­ti­ons found in this report are shocking

Mas­ked Spe­cial For­ces offi­cers are accu­sed of ill-trea­ting refu­gees upon appre­hen­si­on, detai­ning them arbi­tra­ri­ly without any regis­tra­ti­on on Greek soil and then depor­ting them back to Tur­key, in bre­ach of inter­na­tio­nal law. Spe­cial units of the Greek coast­guard aban­don refu­gees in Tur­kish ter­ri­to­ri­al waters without con­si­de­ra­ti­on for their safe­ty. The majo­ri­ty of the inter­viewees clai­med that they had been ill-trea­ted. In the cases of tho­se who were pushed back from the island of Far­ma­ko­ni­si, the seve­ri­ty of the repor­ted ill-tre­at­ment towards nine male Syri­an refu­gees could amount to torture.

Fron­tex must ter­mi­na­te its ope­ra­ti­ons in Greece

The fin­dings of this report fur­ther­mo­re call the enga­ge­ment of the Euro­pean Uni­on and espe­cial­ly the Fron­tex Ope­ra­ti­on “Posei­don Land and Sea” into ques­ti­on. Asi­de from few excep­ti­ons, all the push-backs docu­men­ted in this report have taken place wit­hin the ope­ra­tio­nal area of Fron­tex. PRO ASYL the­re­fo­re poses the ques­ti­on of Frontex’s invol­ve­ment in human rights abu­ses. Given the fre­quen­cy and seve­ri­ty of human rights vio­la­ti­ons taking place in Greece, Fron­tex must ter­mi­na­te its ope­ra­ti­ons in the coun­try. This is fore­se­en in the new 2011 Fron­tex Regu­la­ti­on. Addi­tio­nal­ly, all EU finan­cing of refu­gee deter­rence in Greece must be ful­ly inves­ti­ga­ted and evaluated.

The next Presidency

On the 1st of Janu­a­ry 2014, Greece will assu­me the EU Pre­si­den­cy. PRO ASYL calls on the Greek aut­ho­ri­ties to match their jus­ti­fied calls for grea­ter soli­da­ri­ty from the EU in the recep­ti­on of refu­gees, with a com­mit­ment to respect refu­gee and human rights. The ille­gal prac­ti­ces of pushing-back and mistrea­ting must stop immediately.

PRO ASYL calls on all EU Mem­ber Sta­tes to ease visa requi­re­ments, broa­den the grounds for fami­ly reuni­fi­ca­ti­on and issue huma­ni­ta­ri­an visas for refu­gees – espe­cial­ly for tho­se fle­eing Syria – in tran­sit through Tur­key. This would crea­te safe and legal access to EU ter­ri­to­ry.

Refu­gees and asyl­um see­kers who are trap­ped in Greece, need the right to legal­ly tra­vel on to the Euro­pean sta­tes whe­re their fami­lies live, and whe­re they will have a chan­ce of recei­ving protection. 

This report docu­ments the results of dif­fe­rent rese­arch mis­si­ons car­ri­ed out by the PRO ASYL Foun­da­ti­on and the Friends of PRO ASYL in Greece, Tur­key and Ger­ma­ny. PRO ASYL is sole­ly respon­si­ble for the con­tent of the report „Pushed Back“.

 EU-Par­lia­ment deba­te about the refu­gee tra­ge­dy of Far­ma­ko­ni­si – Euro­pean Respon­si­bi­li­ty (06.02.14)

 12 refu­gees die during alle­ged push-back ope­ra­ti­on off Greek island (22.01.14)

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