Illegal immigrants are seen in a detention center in Kyprinos, in the region of Evros, at the Greek-Turkish borders | Credit: ARCHIVE/EPA
Illegal immigrants are seen in a detention center in Kyprinos, in the region of Evros, at the Greek-Turkish borders | Credit: ARCHIVE/EPA

Greece's Council for Refugees has called on the country's government to launch an investigation into alleged "systematic pushbacks" by police on the northeastern border with Turkey in the Evros region.

Greece's Council for Refugees (GCR) has released a 14-page report containing refugee testimonies accusing the Greek police of continuously and purposely refusing to let people eligible to request asylum cross the border. Even if refugees and migrants were allowed to cross the border between Greece and Turkey, the police would then arrest them and take them back to Turkey, the CGR claims. 


"Reports and complaints about the illegal return of refugees to Evros are steadily increasing," said the GCR in the media statement. "People in need of international protection, asylum seekers and recognized refugees, are being arrested on Greek territory after crossing the border through Evros. They are then being detained and accompanied by a police escort back to the border where they are returned to Turkey."

Refugees detail police beatings 

The GCR conducted a series of interviews with refugees, among them families with young children, pregnant women and unaccompanied minors. According to the Council, they described beatings and inhumane treatment from police forces. Now, the GCR is accusing the Greek authorities of breaches in international humanitarian law.  "The most worrying issue [...] is that lately the reported incidents appear to be increasing and systematizing," the GCR said. 

Miserable conditions in detention centers

The GCR said that common denominators of the testimonies collected were that

  • the arrests were arbitrary 
  • people were placed in police detention facilities where conditions of hygiene were miserable,
  • the use of force put border crossers' lives at risk

"The GCR would like to remind the government that as recently as June 2017, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, on the occasion of reported repatriation from the Greek-Turkish land borders, had called on the Greek authorities to stop this practice and fulfill their obligations with regard to the basis of human rights - that all people arriving in Greece can exercise their right to seek and enjoy the right to asylum," the GCR said.

 

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