legalcentrelesvos.org | 22 December 2021
On 20 December 2021, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) announced that two cases were communicated to Greece concerning the illegal collective expulsion of migrants from its territory.
These two cases, filed earlier this year by Legal Centre Lesvos lawyers, are among the first on this subject to pass this preliminary procedural step since overwhelming evidence began emerging in March 2020 of a widespread and systematic practice of illegal expulsions, or ‘pushbacks’, in the Aegean Sea region. The ECtHR’s notification of these cases to Greece means that the Greek State is now required to respond to the extensive evidence submitted in both cases, which show that the Applicants were attacked, arbitrarily detained, psychologically and physically abused, and ultimately expelled from Greek territory, without having their asylum claims individually examined. A Chamber of judges within the ECtHR is expected to take a decision on the cases as early as summer 2022.
The first case, H.T. and Others v Greece (app. no. 4177/21), concerns the repeated illegal expulsion of a Syrian family. The family – parents and their three young children – submitted evidence to the Court that they had entered Greek territory on at least four occasions, with the intent to seek asylum. However, as demonstrated through their testimony and corroborated evidence, they were repeatedly denied access to registration and asylum procedures, and ultimately were subjected to illegal and life-threatening collective expulsions in the Aegean and Evros regions, together with other asylum seekers.