omct.org| 18 June 2021|
Greece: Pushbacks of over 7000 migrants including children may amount to torture and must be investigated
As we celebrate World Refugee Day, the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) call on Greek authorities to put an end to its pushback policy that may amount to torture. In 147 incidents documented by GHM, members of the Hellenic Coast Guard and police have tortured and forcibly returned more than 7000 migrants, including children, to Turkey without due process despite an ongoing severe global health crisis. The Supreme Court recently ordered 16 first instance prosecutors to start investigations in their respective jurisdictions. We call on the authorities to promptly identify and prosecute the authors and provide adequate protection to all asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants.
Pushbacks from several Greek islands
From March to December 2020, several Greek non-governmental organisations have documented testimonies of migrants from Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan, and various African countries, among others. They detail incidents where the Hellenic Coast Guard have blocked boats heading to Greek islands in the Aegean Sea and pushed them back to Turkish waters, or arrested them in the Evros area, at the land border between Greece and Turkey, before sending them back to Turkey.
The testimonies also give accounts of hundreds of men, women, and children arrested by coast guards during different incidents. In some cases, people who had already arrived on the Islands of Lesbos, Samos, Simi or Rhodes were pushed back and left drifting on inflatable life rafts in helpless conditions and without life jackets.