Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [press release] Tuesday that the first round of EU sanctioned deportations from Greece to Turkey on April 4 was “rushed, chaotic, and violated the rights of those deported.” The deportation of 66 people from the Greek island of Chios to Turkey was reportedly “riddled with an array of irregularities,” including authorities not informing people that they were going to be deported or where they were being taken and not allowing some to take their personal possessions. In addition, HRW claims that there were many who desired to apply for asylum in Greece and were either ignored or uninformed about the process or the reason for their detention and their right to challenge it. HRW stated that the legal basis of confiscating phones and other possessions from people being deported is unclear and because asylum seekers and migrants rely on their phones to keep in touch with family and stay informed, that “such measures appear unnecessary and cruel, as well as a violation of the individuals’ personal property rights.” Also, Turkish authorities have reportedly not allowed [AP report] visits by rights organizations or the UN to check on those arriving from Greece and that some of those sent away had lost contact with family and friends still in Greece.
The rights of migrant populations has emerged as one of the most significant humanitarian issues around the world. This month several aid organizations urged [JURIST report] EU leaders to stop deportations of migrants from Greece to Turkey and to stop detaining asylum seekers. Also, Turkey’s treatment of human rights have been a cause for concern due to the growing partnership with the EU caused by the refugee crisis. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights called [JURIST report] on Turkey to focus on human rights in the wake of their anti-terrorism security measures. Last month UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged [JURIST report] world leaders to accept more refugees and to combat the growing international anti-refugee sentiments. In addition, last month, an independent UN human rights expert encouraged EU leaders to remain steadfast [JURIST report] in their obligations to handle the recent influx of migrants to the EU and to avoid making Turkey the “gatekeeper”