Greece: refoulements and violence against refugees and migrants are de facto a border policy



Greece: Pushbacks and violence against rrefugees and migrants are de facto border Politics

  • Amnesty International reveals new evidence of torture, bad treatments and illegal repressions refugees and migrants in Turkey
  • People apprehended and detained until 700km a way from the border before being transferred and returned at the land border with turkey
  • Amnesty calls on EU border force Frontex To suspend or withdraw his Greek operations
  • Spokespersons available 

Greek border forces are violently and illegalis lying hold groups of refugees and migrants before summarily return them to Turkey, in violation of their Human rights obligations under EU and international law, a new study by Amnesty International has revealed.

The report, Greece: Violence, lies and pushbacks, documents how the Greek authorities illegally pushbacks on land and sea. He to concentratees mainly on illicit operations in the region of Evros, on the land border between Greece and Turkey. In February and March 2020, Greece violently turned back refugees and migrants in response to Turkey’s unilateral opening of land borders. By documenting incidents this occurred following these events, from June to December 2020, this new research demonstrates that human rights violations in Greece the borders continue and have become an established practice.

It is clear that several arms of the Greek authorities coordinate closely to apprehend and brutally detain people seeking safety in Greece, subjecting many people to violence, then transferring them to the banks of the Evros River before summarily returning them to Turkey,

Adriana Tidona, Migration Researcher for Europe at Amnesty International

Our research shows that violent repressions became of the made Greek border control Politics in the region of Evros. The level of organization necessary to execute these declarations, which affected about 1000 people in the incidents we documented, some on multiple occasions and sometimes via unofficial detention sites, shows how far Greece goes illegally return people and cover it. “

The vast majority of people Amnesty International spoke to reported that they had experienceed or witnessed violence of the people they described as in uniform Greek officials, as well as men in civilian clothes. This included beatings with sticks or batons, kicks, punches, slaps and thrusts, sometimes resulting in serious injury. MFr have been often subject to humiliating and aggressive naked searches, sometimes in view women and children.

In in most cases, acts of violence reported violated the international prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment. Some incidents also constituted acts of torture, because of their gravity and humiliating or punitive intent.

Saif *, a 25-year-old Syrian pushed back four times in August 2020, told Amnesty International that on its second attempt, the group it was traveling with was ambushed by “soldiers” in black outfit and hoods and transferred to banks of the Evros river, which crosses the Greek and Turkish border. Ttwo of the group tried to escape but were arrested and ruthlessly beaten by one of the soldiers. Saif, who suspected the man’s spine had been broken, told Amnesty International: “He couldn’t move at all, he couldn’t even move his hands. According to Saïf, after the soldiers took the two wounded men across the river to Turkey, Turkish soldiers and an ambulance came to help the wounded.

Oone person told Amnesty International this during one of the return operations, he and his group were forced to get off the boat and jump into the water near an islet in the middle of the Evros River, where they were stranded for days. A the man who was forced to get off the boat could not swim and scrasked for help as he jumped up and down in the water and was seen to be carried away by the current.

Pushbacks are not only taking place in border areas. Ppeople are equally apprehended and detained far in mainland Greece before being sent back to the Evros region to be illegally returned. Amnesty International spoke to four people who were arbitrarily apprehended and detained in the northern regions of Greece and eventually pushed back to Turkey in larger groups. Aamong them were a recognizezed refugee and a registered asylum seeker who had lived in mainland Greece for almost a year.

One of them, Nabil * a 31 years Syrian asylum seeker registered in Greece told Amnesty International that he was arrested at the port of the city of Igoumenitsa, in the north-west of Greece. The police told him he would be transferred to Athens and released, hhowever it was then transferred to a second detention site closer to the Evros land border, beaten and eventually pushed back in a group of 70 people, including children. He told Amnesty International: “Before getting on the bus, I showed the police my asylum card, but they took it from me, shredded it and told me to get on the bus.

Everyone we spoke to was pushed out of areas where Frontex has a significant number of employees. The agency cannot therefore claim to ignore the abuses that we, and many others, have documented. Frontex has a duty to prevent human rights violations, if it cannot do so effectively, it must withdraw or suspend its operations in Greece.

Adriana tidona

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:    
Alison Abrahams on [email protected] +32 2 548 27 73 or +32 483 680 812  Or [email protected] +44 20 7413 5566


from Amnesty International report GREECE: VIOLENCE, LIES AND REPUSES is based on conversations with 16 people, who experimented 21 repressions. He mainly to concentratesing the repressions of Evros border between June and December 2020. Bon the basis of their testimonies, these illegal operations are estimated at to have affected about 1000 people.

Today, Human Rights Watch publishes related research which examines Frontex’s responsibility for human rights violations at the EU’s external borders, including in Greece.

Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, has a obligation take reasonable steps to protect people from human rights violations and at suspend or withdraw its activities if such violations occur.

*Names have been changed to protect identities.



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