The European Commission has contacted Greek authorities concerning reports of alleged illegal pushbacks of migrants to Turkey in the Evros region on Greece’s northeastern border. This news was confirmed by Commission spokesperson for Migration issues, Natasha Bertaud, on Tuesday.
“The Commission is, of course, always concerned about reports of mistreatment of migrants and refugees and we take these allegations very seriously. Any form of violence or abuse of migrants is unacceptable. We are, on this matter, in contact with the Greek authorities, as regards these allegations of mistreatment of non-EU nationals being denied the opportunity to apply for asylum,” Bertaud said.
She noted, however, that it was primarily the responsibility of Greek authorities to ensure that these rights are respected and that access to asylum procedures is provided to everyone who wants to apply, in accordance with EU laws and directives.
“The Commission expects that the Greek authorities will follow up on the specific allegations and will continue to monitor the situation closely,” Bertaud added.
The organization “Human Rights Watch” slammed Greece in a report last December, saying law enforcement officers at the land border with Turkey in the northeastern Evros region summarily return asylum seekers and migrants routinely.
The organization interviewed dozens of migrants who reported hostile and even violent behavior by Greek police and individuals from unidentified forces who wore uniforms and masks without recognizable insignia.
The abuse reported included beatings using bare fists and batons, kicking, and, in one case, the use of what appeared to be a stun gun, the report alleged.