The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, has criticised Greece for a large number of reported collective expulsions of migrants, including a large number of Syrians fleeing war violence, and allegations of ill-treatment of migrants by members of the coast guard and border police. These raise serious human rights concerns, according to the Commissioner in his letter of 5 December 2013 that was released today.
Although the Greek authorities have recently adopted legislative measures aimed at protecting migrants, the reported collective expulsions of foreign nationals show that this legislation has not been fully implemented successfully yet. They violate international and European human rights law and raise very serious issues of compatibility with the fundamental principle of non-refoulement, enshrined in the UN Refugee Convention, by which Greece is bound.
“In addition to being incompatible with international human rights and refugee law, collective expulsions of migrants are also ineffective, given that people facing desperate situations cannot really be prevented from migrating. To uphold its human rights obligations, Greece has to radically change its migration policy and practice. This is all the more necessary now that Greece has taken on additional responsibilities by holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.”