Europe rights commissioner urges Greece to end pushback of asylum seekers
geralt / Pixabay
Europe rights commissioner urges Greece to end pushback of asylum seekers

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights urged the Greek state to end its pushback of asylum seekers at the border.

Commissioner Dunja Mijatovic expressed her concerns following the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment indicating reception of “consistent and credible allegations” of pushbacks which appeared to follow a “standard practice.” Such conduct included persons dressed in uniform without identification arresting migrants, including most significantly, persons in need of international protection.

According to the Greek ombudsman, these pushbacks have been the work of or have at least involved state agencies and agents responsible for planning, logistics and perpetrating.

Further, in the letter published Wednesday, Mijatovic revealed she had “received a number of consistent and credible allegations concerning acts of the Greek Coast Guard to prevent boats carrying migrants reaching the Greek islands.”

Most crucially, she indicated that acts of the Greek state may be in breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (prohibition of torture). This comes following reports of verbal and physical abuse inflicted on migrants being pushed back to Turkey which may amount to degrading or inhuman treatment against their human dignity.

She further moved to criticize the substandard living conditions in migrant camps located on the Dodecanese Islands, whilst demanding their immediate improvement.

Finally, her deepest concerns were expressed at the official reaction of the Greek authorities, which has been to deny their involvement in these acts, as opposed to taking responsibility for them.