Aus AthensLive Wire Newsletter, 18.6.2022:
„Der UN-Sonderberichterstatter für die Menschenrechte von Migranten, Felipe González Morales, hat diese Woche einen Bericht mit dem Titel „Menschenrechtsverletzungen an internationalen Grenzen: Trends, Prävention und Verantwortlichkeit“ veröffentlicht.
Darin betont er, dass im Jahr 2021 „Tausende bei dem Versuch, europäisches Territorium zu erreichen, im Mittelmeer und im Atlantik starben oder vermisst wurden. Hunderte wurden auch als vermisst oder tot gemeldet, als sie die Landgrenzen zwischen Weißrussland und Polen, der Türkei und Griechenland sowie Mexiko und den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika überquerten.“
Er betonte insbesondere, dass es einen Trend zur Legitimierung von Pushback-Praktiken gibt, während Pushbacks zu Familientrennungen und traumabedingten Gesundheitsstörungen, einschließlich posttraumatischer Belastungsstörungen, Depressionen und Angstzuständen, geführt haben.
Was Griechenland betrifft, so unterstreicht der Bericht, was die ganze Welt weiß, die griechische Regierung aber immer noch leugnet:
„In Griechenland sind Pushbacks an den Land- und Seegrenzen de facto zur allgemeinen Politik geworden“, heißt es in dem Bericht unmissverständlich. „Das UNHCR hat fast 540 separate Vorfälle im Zeitraum 2020-2021 registriert, an denen mindestens 17.000 Menschen beteiligt waren, die Berichten zufolge gewaltsam und informell in die Türkei zurückgeführt wurden.“
Der Sonderberichterstatter äußert sich besorgt über den deutlichen Anstieg der Zahl der Menschen, die „als Teil der erklärten Strategie der Behörden“ an der Einreise in griechisches Hoheitsgebiet gehindert werden:
„Griechenland hat Berichten zufolge zwischen April und November 2021 mehr als 140.000 Menschen an der Einreise gehindert und eine Erweiterung des Zauns in der Region Evros angekündigt. In der Ägäis haben Nicht-Regierungs-Organisationen (NROs) mindestens 147 Fälle dokumentiert, in denen 7.000 Migranten, darunter auch Kinder, von der griechischen Küstenwache ohne ordnungsgemäßes Verfahren gewaltsam in die Türkei zurückgebracht wurden.“
The response from the Greek Ministry of Migration came on Monday – and it was rejective of the UN report:
“It has never been verified that Greece acts in an illegal manner,” the press release stated. The report “is not based on primary research but reproduces older findings by the UNHCR, foreign media reports and the recommendations of non-governmental organizations, which are already under investigation as to their validity by the National Transparency Authority.” However, previous checks have “never confirmed illegal actions (by Greece) while guarding its borders” and Greek authorities “save every day the lives of people at risk at sea and land borders.”
This is not the first time Greece ridicules itself by refuting UN reports. At the end of February this year, Migration Minister Mitrachi had expressed “surprise” at UNHCR’s concern over alleged pushbacks in Greece.
The report touches upon other deeply problematic aspects of Greece’s (anti)migration policy. It refers to Law 4825/2021 of 4 September 2021, which imposes limitations and conditions on private and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) willing to engage in search and rescue voluntarily. “New terms of cooperation limit the involvement of civilian search and rescue and prescribe registration and authorization with the Hellenic Coast Guard. Currently, organizations may only operate under the orders and instructions of port authorities, and rescuers risk significant fines and imprisonment if they act on their own initiative to save lives,” it is stated. The report mentions that in Italy several legal proceedings are already underway against private actors involved in search and rescue in 2021.
Furthermore, the Special Rapporteur analyses the 2021 two joint ministerial decisions, which made a series of safe third country designations. “Most notably, JMD 42799 of June 2021 designated Turkey as safe for nationals of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Somalia and the Syrian Arab Republic, who constitute the most populous groups of asylum seekers in Greece. The decision applied retroactively to asylum seekers on Greek territory and resulted in a 126 percent year-on-year increase in the rejection of asylum applications on admissibility grounds. Across Greece, over 6,400 asylum applications were considered inadmissible based on the safe third country concept – almost half of all applications.,” it is stated. “The sole exceptions to the rule have been unaccompanied children under the age of 15 and children, victims of human trafficking, torture, rape or other forms of severe psychological, physical or sexual violence,” it is added.
The report adds that several submissions to the Special Rapporteur indicate that Turkey has not agreed to readmit any asylum seekers from Greece since 2020, thus its designation as a safe third country “resulted in legal uncertainty for asylum seekers, most of whom will remain in Greece without any legal status or access to any protection and related service and benefits.”
It is added that the number of rejected asylum seekers detained in Kos has increased as they are “reportedly automatically detained despite the lack of a prospect of removal.”
An important part of the report emphasizes the role of Frontex, and subsequently the EU.
Expressing concern about the 32,000 migrants forcibly returned in 2021 to Libya, where they are at risk of extensive abuses and human rights violations, he emphasizes that they are “allegedly intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard in the framework of the renewed deal between Italy, the European Union and the Government of Libya to reduce migrant arrivals to Europe.” It is added that “Frontex has reportedly facilitated these interceptions through drone surveillance and secretive communication practices that prevent private and NGO ships from accessing information regarding boats in distress and undermine their timely and effective involvement in search and rescue.”
Referring to Frontex facing scrutiny for its operations at the external borders of the European Union, the report singles out an action that was lodged in May 2021 with the Court of Justice of the European Union on behalf of two asylum-seeking applicants who were subjected to a pushback in the Aegean Sea, “which alleges that Frontex bears legal responsibility for failing to terminate its operations in Greece despite ‘serious, systematic, and widespread violations of human rights.”
LIBE Committee demands action on Greece
Following the UN report, the chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) has written to the European Commission raising fresh concerns about alleged pushbacks of migrants on the Greek-Turkish border. The letter alleges that people who are seeking international protection and who have tried to enter Greece near the Evros River are being pushed back.
LIBE emphasizes there is a duty to act: “In light of the numerous alarming reports by media and civil society, the LIBE Committee considers that the Commission has the duty and the responsibility to condemn any use of violence, to enforce the Union acquis and to take all the necessary measures in order to ensure that the Rule of Law is upheld by the Member States,” says the letter, penned by Spanish MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar. “Hence, we believe that the Commission is responsible to ensure that EU and international law is upheld at the external borders.”
The Greek government’s reaction? (Come on, you have been trained to guess by now):
According to Politico, they have reacted with fury to the intervention, “arguing that LIBE’s information is unsourced and based on Turkish briefings.” Turkey’s Ombudsman Institution has claimed Greece has handcuffed and thrown migrants into the sea — allegations Athens flatly denies, Politico added.
However, LIBE failed to also call the EU into question, as it is the EU that funds Greece’s immigration policy and turns a blind eye.
Meanwhile, another UN report published this week, reports the grim number of 89.3 million people being forcibly displaced worldwide at the end of 2021 as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations, or events seriously disturbing public order.
Interestingly, the report mentions unequal treatment of refugees relating to their country of origin. Therefore, refugees fleeing Ukraine “are hosted by predominantly high-income European countries. They have also been offered temporary protection status by European Union Member States, with more than 2.8 million refugees registered for such schemes. Many of the 36.2 million refugees, asylum seekers, and others forced to flee across borders who were already displaced at the end of 2021 faced conditions that were much direr,” the report notes. Plus, some “40 percent of refugees and asylum seekers were hosted in countries with food crises at the end of 2021.”
Sadly, in last year’s Global Trends report, UNHCR predicted that the question is no longer if forced displacement will exceed 100 million people – but rather when.
Well, “The when is now.” Total forced displacement now exceeds 100 million people. This means 1 in every 78 people on earth has been forced to flee.“