Amnesty International: Greece is a Frontier of Fear and Hope

refugeesAmnesty International is seeking an end to Greece’s “unlawful and shameful” expulsion of refugees and migrants. In a shocking report, the organization speaks of the “unacceptable” treatment that these people face when they reach Greek borders.

The report, entitled “Greece: Stop unlawful and shameful expulsion of refugees and migrants,” asks the European Union to impose sanctions on Greece, because the country’s routine of pushing back migrants and refugees who arrive at its borders has yet to stop.

“The treatment of refugees and migrants at Greece’s borders is deplorable. Too often, instead of finding sanctuary, they are met with violence and intimidation. There are cases where they have been stripped naked, had their possessions stolen, and even held at gunpoint before being pushed back across the border to Turkey,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.

“The people carrying out these push-backs are state agents. As such, the Greek authorities bear full responsibility for their actions. The authorities must openly acknowledge and ensure an end to the illegal and often dangerous practice of push-backs.” he added.

Push-backs are the unlawful expulsion of a group of people without considering the individual circumstances and depriving them of the opportunity to seek asylum on Greek soil. The practice is strictly prohibited under Greek, European and international law.

Between September 2012 and April 2014, Amnesty International spoke with 148 migrants and refugees about their traumatic and often violent experiences. Almost half said they had been pushed back from Greece to Turkey, some more than once.

According to Amnesty International, “Current policies in Brussels, the capital of the EU, are heavily tilted towards the deterrence and prevention of irregular migration rather than providing protection to those who need it.

Europe continues to build higher walls, forcing refugees and migrants to follow more dangerous routes. In the Aegean Sea, at least 188 people, including children and infants, drowned or went missing between August 2012 and March 2104.

“Greece is a frontier state of fortress Europe, and while states have the prerogative to control their borders, this must never be at the expense of the lives and safety of those desperately seeking protection or simply a better life,” said John Dalhuisen.