European commissioners turn up the pressure over migration policy

European Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks has written to Greek Merchant Marine Minister Militadis Varvitsiotis urging an investigation into a coast guard operation on January 20 that led to 16 undocumented migrants being rescued and the death of eight children and three women off the coast of Farmakonisi in the southeastern Aegean.

“I expect that this investigation will be prompt” and “shed full light on the circumstances of this tragic event,” Muiznieks said.

He also called on the Greek authorities to establish an “independent complaints mechanism” to supervise law enforcement.

Meanwhile, European Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told Parliament in Athens that problems remain in Greek immigration policy, particularly at migrant reception and detention centers.

In a related development, the EU’s border protection agency Frontext on Monday said that the number of migrants entering Europe’s borders illegally rose 48 percent in 2013 compared to the previous year, mainly from Syria.