Top human rights official concerned over alleged pushback operations


Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, has expressed his concern following reports of collective expulsions of asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey, and has urged Athens to cease these operations.

“I urge the Greek authorities to cease immediately the pushback operations and uphold their human rights obligation to ensure that all people reaching Greece can effectively seek and enjoy asylum,” Muiznieks said in a message posted on his Facebook page.

According to unconfirmed reports, Greek security forces have summarily returned to Turkey several people, including one journalist, in recent days, thus preventing them from seeking and enjoying asylum.

“No doubt Greece has been under immense migratory pressure in recent years and the help received from other EU member states has been far from effective in alleviating both this pressure and the suffering of refugees in the country,” Muiznieks said.

“However, even in particularly challenging situations, states cannot resort to practices – such as collective expulsions – which are not in compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights and the non-refoulement principle enshrined in the UN Refugee Convention,” he said.