The government said on Friday it would investigate reports that some of its officials were illegally pushing back migrants at the border, a day after Brussels pressed it to look into the accusations.
Several European media outlets reported this week that Greek and Croatian officials were illegally and sometimes violently pushing back migrants. The European Union’s executive called for an investigation on Thursday.
Reuters has not independently verified the media reports.
Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said on Friday he had told EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson that the claims would be investigated.
“Every claim made is investigated by the judiciary and by our internal audit,” he told reporters at an EU meeting in Luxembourg.
Johansson earlier said Croatia had promised to investigate the accusations and she had made it clear to Greece that it needed to do the same.
She said EU countries needed to protect the bloc’s external borders, but they also had to uphold values, the rule of law and fundamental rights.
Under international law, migrants have a right to claim asylum and it is forbidden to send potential asylum-seekers back to where their lives or well-being might be in danger.
Croatia’s Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said on Thursday police would conduct an investigation. He added that Croatian border police acted in line with the law and did not tolerate any abuse of authority.
Meanwhile, Mitarakis called for a “common European solution” for the migration issue.
“The European Union is facing migratory pressure in many fronts; in the external and the internal borders.”
“The situation in Afghanistan is obviously worrying for all. Greece has provided on a voluntary basis support, and we have given safe haven to people coming from Afghanistan, but we need to find a common European solution,” he said.
“The new Pact needs to be more aggressive in the topic of solidarity. These migratory pressures is not just a challenge for the countries of first reception, it’s a challenge for the entire EU, and we need to make sure any burden is shared equally and fairly among member states.” [Reuters, AMNA]