Over the last years, the undersigned organisations have been receiving allegations of push-backs at the country’s land and sea borders. This practice seems to have now acquired systematic characteristics and constitutes an official state policy aiming at the prevention of refugee and migrant flows.
Although not a new phenomenon, this policy of land and sea push-backs has, however, escalated in an unprecedented fashion over the last year, both in terms of frequency of incidents and of the means employed. Dozens of complaints, substantiated by evidence (videos, testimonies and photos), have been recorded.
Of the utmost concern is the reported tolerance and/or involvement of FRONTEX as well as the inaction in conducting a substantial inquiry into the public allegations connected to it. This policy not only constitutes a violation of fundamental principles of international law but also poses a direct threat to people’s lives.
We emphatically point out that:
- The deterrence of entry as well as the return of persons who have entered Greece, without respecting the legal procedures for the apprehension and registration of the latter and without examining their potential application for international protection, infringes the fundamental principles of international law which prohibit the return of persons to a country where they are at risk of persecution, torture and inhuman or degrading treatment.
- The protection of human life is the ultimate responsibility and obligation of the authorities
- Targeting and criminalising civil society organisations and citizens who record and publicise push-back incidents at the land and sea borders of the country is dangerous for the Rule of Law and aims at consolidating a climate of fear and of tolerance towards illegal practices
Several of the undersigned organizations have already submitted reports and complaints to international and European bodies, aiming at the effective investigation and prosecution of illegal push-back practices. In addition, we now call on civil society organisations and bodies to come together in an initiative to address the below demands to national, European and international bodies:
- The immediate end of illegal push-back practices that endanger the Rule of Law and fundamental human rights
- The establishment of an independent mechanism for the systematic recording and substantiation of reported push-back cases
- The protection of the victims and the facilitation of their access to justice for the substantial investigation of their complaints
- The protection of the organisations and citizens that record and publicise incidents of push-backs