Council of Europe urges Greece to end collective expulsions of migrants

The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks has asked Greek authorities to end the collective expulsions of immigrants.

According to a press release published on the organization's website Tuesday the commissioner last month sent a letter to Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias and Merchant Marine Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis urging Greece “to radically change its migration policy and practice.”

“The large number of reported collective expulsions by Greece of migrants, including a large number of Syrians fleeing war violence, and allegations of ill-treatment of migrants by members of the coast guard and of the border police raise serious human rights concerns,” Muiznieks wrote.

According to an Amnesty International report published in December, Greek police and coast guard officers are systematically ill-treating would-be refugees from Syria. The report documented firsthand accounts of pushbacks after violent beatings and confiscations of personal belongings without any due process.

In his letter, Muiznieks said Greek authorities must carry out effective investigations into all recorded incidents and take all necessary measures in order to end and prevent recurrence of such practices.

According to Muiznieks, the en masse expulsions of foreign nationals go against international and European human rights law and raise serious issues of compatibility with the fundamental principle of non-refoulement, enshrined in the UN Refugee Convention.

“In addition to being incompatible with international human rights and refugee law, collective expulsions of migrants are also ineffective, given that people facing desperate situations cannot really be prevented from migrating,” he said.