Europe

EU Commission urges Greece to probe migrant pushbacks

European borders cannot be protected by human right violations, says commissioner for home affairs

Agnes Szucs   | 06.07.2020
EU Commission urges Greece to probe migrant pushbacks

BRUSSELS 

EU commissioner for home affairs Monday called on Greece to investigate pushbacks of migrants at its border with Turkey.

“We can’t protect EU borders by violating European rights,” Ylva Johansson said at a hearing on the situation at the Greek-Turkish border, which was organized by the civil liberties committee of the European Parliament.

“Not everyone is entitled to asylum status, but everyone is entitled to treatment according to our values. When people apply for asylum, they appeal for European values and that appeal we must honor,” she added.

The commissioner called on all EU states as well to investigate and follow illegal pushback cases.

She also proposed to set up a new EU mechanism to verify allegations on illegal pushbacks because the EU does not currently have a mandate to do so.

Also participating in the debate was Greek Minister of Citizen Protection Michalis Chrisochoidis. He refused the allegations but promised to investigate all cases.

He also stressed that Greece is a democratic country respecting human rights and the EU law.

Based on evidence from asylum seekers and human-rights activists, US daily Wall Street Journal reported in May that at least 250 asylum seekers have been forcibly expelled from Greece since late March.

According to the testimonies, the Greek police chose people who had not officially filed an asylum claim and drove them back from refugee centers to the border, using the coronavirus pandemic as a cover for human rights abuses.

In 2019, German weekly Der Spiegel also released 11 video footages showing masked men forcing dozens of refugees and migrants to the Turkish side.

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