Thursday

15th Nov 2018

Amnesty: migrant abuse in Greece is 'humanitarian crisis'

  • Migrants at the Filakio detention centre say they have no heating. (Photo: Nikolaj Nielsen)

The poor treatment of migrants and asylum seekers in Greece is a humanitarian disaster, says a report released on Wednesday (19 December) by Amnesty International.

“Greece’s failure to respect the rights of migrants and asylum-seekers is taking on the proportions of a humanitarian crisis,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia programme director at Amnesty International, in a statement.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The pro-rights NGO has documented cases where migrants attempting to cross the Evros river land border with Turkey have been forced back by Greek border police.

In one incident over the summer, Greek border police knifed a small rubber boat carrying seven Syrians in the middle of the Evros.

On another occasion Greek police allegedly escorted some 40 people to the middle of the river. Two armed officers then allegedly pushed them into the river without life jackets. One of the witnesses said only 25 made it across.

Greece, which is facing a profound economic crisis and a rise in xenophobia, has not demonstrated sufficient improvements on processing asylum seekers, says the report.

A new asylum agency was set up in 2011 but has yet to deliver any asylum claims due to a lack of staff.

Instead, asylum claimants, some returned to Greece by other member states (under EU rules the point-of-entry country has responsibility for the migrant), queue for days at the Attika Aliens Police Directorate in Athens in the off-chance they will be interviewed.

Member states stopped returning asylum seekers to Greece in 2011 but a massive backlog means Greek authorities are unable to process claimants quickly enough.

Those in limbo risk arrest and deportation since Athens launched its operation Xenius Zeus in August.

Police spokesman Christos Manouras in August said the aim of Xenius Zeus is to push back undocumented migrants to the Evros region on the Turkish border and, ultimately, to send them back to their countries of origin.

Police sweeps across the country have already arrested and detained thousands.

The campaign's first week in August detained in Athens some 6,030 people suspected of having entered the country illegally. Greek police then arrested 1,525 of them.

Among them are unaccompanied children who are placed in detention facilities with substandard conditions.

One 15-year old, arrested during a police sweep operation and separated from his family, was detained with people facing criminal charges.

“The Greek authorities continue to systematically detain asylum-seekers and irregular migrants including unaccompanied children in breach of international standards and seem to use detention – often in appalling conditions - as a deterrent,” said Dalhuisen.

Some 500, swept up in operation Xenius Zeus, rioted and set fire to the Komotini police academy in north-eastern Greece in November where they had been detained for the past three months.

Meanwhile, racially motivated attacks against asylum seekers, irregular migrants, as well as unofficial mosques and community shops are on the rise.

The NGO says there have been 87 documented incidents between January and September 2012 but most go unreported.

Migrants set fire to Greek detention centre

Over 500 undocumented migrants detained for the past three months at the Komotini police academy in eastern Greece rioted and set fire to the premises.

EU asylum applications on the rise

The number of people seeking asylum in Europe is on the rise, as conflicts and poverty force families to leave their home countries.

Romania data chief defends forcing press to reveal sources

Romania's data protection authority is headed by Ancuta Gianina Opre, who in 2017 was charged with abuse of office in her previous job. Last week, she threatened a €20m fine against journalists in their effort to uncover corruption.

EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press

Romania's data protection authority has threatened a €20m fine against reporters investigating high-level corruption. The European Commission has since issued a warning, telling Romanian authorities to give press exemptions when it comes to privacy rights.

Romania 'using EU data protection law to silence journalists'

An award-winning journalism outlet in Romania is being threatened with fines by the country's data protection authorities - for having disclosed connections, on Facebook, of powerful politicians and a firm embroiled in scandal.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  2. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May
  3. Denmark blocks Tanzania aid over homophobic crackdown
  4. Second UK cabinet minister resigns over Brexit deal
  5. UK Brexit secretary quits morning after deal agreed
  6. Romanian MPs call for national 'Magnitsky Act'
  7. Tusk: Brexit summit on Sunday 25 November
  8. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published

Opinion

Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  2. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  3. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  4. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  5. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  6. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot
  7. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  8. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us