An Austrian aid worker, named Fayad Mulla, released video footage on Saturday capturing Greek officials mistreating refugees seeking asylum within the country. The New York Times verified the footage with several of the refugees, who have since been relocated to Turkey. The refugees interviewed originated from Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia.
The footage shows refugees–including women and children–being gathered by Greek officials and driven in vans. Greek officials are shown taking possession of the refugee’s items, forcing them onto speed boats and handed off to Greek Coast Guards. From there, videos capture coast guard officials placing the refugees on another boat and floated to the middle of the Aegean Sea, where they were collected by Turkish Coast Guard officials.
This is not the first time Greece’s immigration policies have drawn condemnation. In June 2022, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Mary Lawlor stated she was “extremely concerned” about the continuous and preventable loss of life at sea. She also cited concern with the criminalization of non-governmental assistance within Greece. Shortly thereafter, following a meeting with Greek officials, the EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said, “Violent and illegal deportations of migrants must stop, now.”
Then, in July 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Greece’s failure to address its violent immigration policies is unacceptable. In Safi and others v. Greece, the court held that Greece’s immigration policies–which led to the sinking of a migrant boat and the death of eleven people, including women and children–violated the migrant’s right to life and the prohibition on inhuman or degrading treatment. The court told the Greek government that it needed to implement an independent border monitoring agency and encouraged the Greek Parliament to investigate if they are abetting the government’s immigration policies.
Despite all of this, a February joint statement from PRO ASYL and Refugee Support Aegean suggested that the EU-Turkey deal is evidence that the EU is moving further away from international refugee protection standards by normalizing policies like those in place in Greece.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis issued no comment on the video, despite claims that the video captures further violations of EU law.