ecre.org | 24 June 2022
Greece: ECtHR Condemns Greece in Prominent Ruling, New Evidence of Pushbacks, Renewed EU Critique – Same Old Denials, Government Ignores European Courts and Continue Crack-Down on Solidarity
The Greek government accuses MEPs of being manipulated by propaganda and NGOs of circumventing border control in cooperation with human smugglers and using European courts. Meanwhile, reports of the use of informally hired third-country nationals by Greek authorities during pushback operations emerge amid new stand off and war of words between Greece and Turkiye.
In a recent letter, the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) urged the European Commission to “condemn any use of violence” and ensure the rule of law is respected across member states over fresh reports of illegal pushbacks in Greece. Greek asylum and migration minister, Notis Mitarachi who is set to address the LIBE committee on 27 June responded in a strongly worded letter (seen by ECRE). Mitarachi states: “The Libe Committee has too important a role to play, to allow for propaganda machines and smuggling networks to manipulate it. Your letter is based on press reports, which have not been independently verified”. Further, the minister reiterates accusations against NGOs working in support of asylum seekers and refugees, of coordinating with human smugglers that are encouraged and tolerated by Turkish authorities to circumvent border controls and make appeals to the European Court of Human Rights. The response from Greek NGOs active in the Greek Human Rights Commission’s Informal Returns Recording Mechanism came promptly in a briefing pointing out that contempt of judicial protection and court decisions is a dangerous departure from core EU principles. The organisations further note that discrediting the work of international monitoring bodies denouncing pushbacks (including UNHCR, IOM, CED, CRC, WGAD, UN Special Rapporteurs, CoE Commissioner for Human Rights, CPT) is an affront to the rule of law. In her recent report following a visit to Greece, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor expressed concern over “reports of human rights defenders, in particular those supporting migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, being targeted by hostile comments, including by key stakeholders in the government. They are described as traitors, enemies of the state, Turkish agents, criminals and smugglers and traffickers”.