Transparency authority to probe fresh pushback allegations 

Transparency authority to probe fresh pushback allegations 

Greece’s independent authority for transparency will investigate new reports that the authorities were involved in illegal pushbacks of refugees after the New York Times published a video allegedly showing the Coast Guard abandoning people at sea, many of which were children.

The probe was requested by the EU home affairs commissioner, Ylva Johansson, who said her officials had called for an independent investigation. “It is necessary that proper follow up is taken by Greek authorities, also based on the new independent monitoring mechanism,” she said in a tweet on May 22. She also said that the European Commission was ready to take “formal steps, as appropriate”.

In the video, which NYT said it had verified, a group of 12 asylum seekers, described as Somalis, Eritreans and Ethiopians, are filmed being driven in an “unmarked” white van to a remote spot on the Aegean island before being forced into a high-speed inflatable boat by men whose facial features are concealed by balaclavas. The dinghy then transfers them to a Hellenic coast guard vessel, which proceeds to abandon them on a raft in the middle of the Aegean Sea.

Asked in an interview with CNN if Greece forcibly rejects asylum seekers its borders, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, “absolutely not.”

“I take this incident very seriously. It is already being investigated by my government,” he added.

Sources from the National Transparency Authority (NTA) confirmed that it received a request form an investigation from both Johansson and Beate Gminder, who helps oversee migration management for the European Commission. 

NTA has previously looked into media reports of pushbacks and found no evidence to support them. In a report published in March 2022 it had said the allegations by the Lighthouse Reports non-profit organization concerning “informal obligatory returns” of asylum-seekers by masked men “were not confirmed.”


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