30 April 2014

A report entitled “Greece: Frontier of hope and fear” published this week by Amnesty International contains new evidence of migrants and refugees being pushed back at the Greek-Turkish border. Amnesty International criticises Greece’s persistent denial of the routine and widespread nature of these pushbacks  and calls on the EU to initiate infringement proceedings against Greece for human rights violations, and suspend its cooperation with and funding of Greece’s border control operations until Greece can demonstrate that it has eradicated the practice of push backs at its borders.

68 of the 148 migrants and refugees interviewed by Amnesty between September 2012 and April 2014 said they had been pushed back from Greece to Turkey, sometimes more than once. Most refugees and migrants also said that they had experienced or witnessed physical violence and intimidation by Greek police officers and coastguards. Many told Amnesty they had been beaten, on board of coastguard ships and held at gunpoint.

‘’The police ordered us out of the vans, they were swearing at us and pushing… They handed us over to people wearing black hoods and black or dark blue uniforms. They [the men in hoods] took our money and passports. Then, in groups, took us in small boats over to the Turkish side with nothing but our clothes left on us,” a girl fleeing the war in Syria told Amnesty.

“Greece is a frontier state of fortress Europe, and while states have the prerogative to control their borders, this must never be at the expense of the lives and safety of those desperately seeking protection or simply a better life,” stated John Dalhuisen, Amnesty’s Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 30 April 2014
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