In a new report, Medici per I Diritti Humani (Doctors for Human Rights) has documented over a hundred accounts of push-backs of migrants and asylum seekers from the Italian Adriatic ports to Greece, under a readmission agreement between the two countries. The organisation interviewed 66 people, mainly Afghans and Syrians, who declared they had been sent back to Greece, some of them more than once.

80% of the people interviewed declared that the authorities did not register their claim for protection, in violation of Italy’s national and international obligations. In addition, many migrants reported that they had been victims of violence, mostly by the Italian police. 49 of the 102 readmission documented cases took place in 2013.

The reports also highlights that those apprehended and detained did not receive information and legal assistance, did not have access to interpreters and were not able to appeal against their return. Furthermore, in 80% of the cases, the persons were sent back to Greece within a few hours of their disembarkation.

Medici per I Diritti Humani also found that the migrants claiming to be unaccompanied children were returned, in most of the cases, without their age being assessed by the Italian authorities and without access to the relevant procedures. The organisation documented 26 cases of readmission of unaccompanied children.

The organisation calls for Italy to immediately stop pushing people back to Greece, to ensure access to the asylum procedure for people in need of protection and to respect the best interests of the child principle.

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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 29 November 2013
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