Individual testimonies highlight "systematic pushbacks" of refugees in the Evros region
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The Greek Council of Refugees' latest report documents pushbacks of refugees at the Greek border in the Evros region, which the organisation says violate "basic international obligations of Greece, and more specifically the principle of non-refoulement, the right of access to asylum and constitute inhuman or degrading treatment as well as exposure to threat to life or torture according to Article 3 of the ECHR."
The report highlights that "large families, pregnant women, victims of torture, but even minors, too, are some of the victims of pushbacks."
The testimonies underline the trend of people being arrested by individuals, often masked, wearing black and with no official insignia, who forcibly take intercepted people in buses to detention sites with unacceptable conditions.
As the report puts it:
"The third country nationals that enter the country irregularly, who sometimes even have legal residence documents, report that, when arrested, they are transferred in vans, which usually look like police vehicles, to detention centers. They describe to us places which are guarded by armed men and women, and shut with iron doors. As soon as they are arrested, all of their personal belongings (mobile phones, money, identity cards, legal residence documents) are removed and never returned to them. The men that arrest, guard and oversee the expulsion process from Greece to Turkey sometimes wear Greek police uniforms, other times they wear camouflage that resembles military uniforms and on some other occasions they are dressed in black clothes, and at times cover their faces."
See: Greek Council for Refugees: Reports and testimony of systematic pushbacks in Evros (pdf).
See also: Greek Council for Refugees website (link)
Such practices are not new and echo what has been reported a number of times since 2011, including by the Frontexit campaign in 2014 in their detailed report 'Frontex between Greece and Turkey, the border of denial' (available in English, French, Greek and Turkish, pdfs).
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