Twenty-nine human rights and humanitarian aid organizations have called on Greek lawmakers to investigate reports of illegal pushbacks at the country’s land and sea border with Turkey in an open letter to Parliament.
“Greek lawmakers should conduct a prompt, effective, transparent and impartial investigation into allegations that Greek Coast Guard, Greek police, and Greek army personnel, sometimes in close coordination with uniformed masked men, have been involved in acts that not only violate the law but put the lives and safety of displaced people at risk,” the nongovernmental organizations said in the letter, which was published on Tuesday.
“Any officer found to have engaged in such illegal acts, as well as their commanding officers and officials who have command responsibility over such forces, should be subject to disciplinary and criminal sanctions, as applicable,” the letter said, adding that the investigation should also “seek to establish the identity and relationship of the masked men and other unidentified officers to law enforcement and take steps to hold them to account.”
“Despite government denials, over the years many witnesses and victims have told us about pushbacks from land and sea that put migrants’ lives at risk,” said Eva Cosse, Greece researcher at Human Rights Watch, one of the 29 signatories. “Parliament should step up now and do all it can to put an end to this life-threatening practice.”
“The protection of the borders, of vital importance in itself, can be in compliance with international law and human rights standards,” said Antigone Lyberaki, general manager of Solidarity Now, which also signed the letter.
“The Greek parliament has both the means and a constitutional obligation to oversee and investigate the alleged infringement of international human rights obligations by the Greek state,” Lyberaki added.