Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday added its voice to those of other nongovernmental organizations which recently published reports alleging the country's law enforcement officers are involved in systematic pushbacks of migrants and asylum seekers at the northeastern border with Turkey.
The NGO said it interviewed 26 asylum seekers and other migrants in Greece in May, and in October and November in Turkey who were from Afghanistan, Iraq, Morocco, Pakistan, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen, and include families traveling with children. They described 24 incidents of forced deportations across the Evros River from Greece to Turkey.
“People who have not committed a crime are detained, beaten, and thrown out of Greece without any consideration for their rights or safety,” said Todor Gardos, Europe researcher at HRW.
“The Greek authorities should immediately investigate the repeated allegations of illegal pushbacks.”
According to the report, all of those interviewed reported “hostile or violent behavior” by Greek police and unidentified forces wearing uniforms and masks without recognizable insignia.
Twelve people said police or these unidentified forces accompanying the police stripped them of their possessions, including their money and personal identification, which were often destroyed.
But the practice of refoulement, as pushbacks are officially called, is not new. HRW said it has documented them for a decade at border region of Evros.