Today, the European Commission hold an emergency meeting with Frontex’s management board, following an investigation that implicated Frontex assets in several illegal pushbacks at Greece’s maritime border. The investigation reported two incidents of Frontex’s direct participation – and four incidents in which Frontex assets were in the vicinity of a pushback conducted by the Greek authorities.
Originally published by Dunya Collective Telegram Channel.
Pushbacks, legally known as “collective expulsions,” have long been a feature of the European border. However, since the Greek government’s month-long suspension of the right to seek asylum in March, the frequency and visibility of maritime pushbacks in the Aegean has increased dramatically.
The NGO ‘Legal Center Lesbos’ has been in contact with more than sixty survivors of seventeen maritime pushbacks. Their testimonies expose a systematic, widespread and inherently violent practice, in which the Hellenic Coast Guard confiscates arriving migrants’ possessions, subjects them to physical and verbal violence, damages their dinghy or forces them on to motorless life rafts, and ultimately abandons them in open water – with no regard for their lives.
“Collective expulsions can be broadly seen in two categories: those which occur exclusively at sea, as in the case of ten of the pushbacks that we have documented, and those which occur after migrants have been intercepted on land, as the remaining seven. In the latter, migrants are often arbitrarily detained without adequate access to food, water, sanitation facilities or shelter, before being forced on to Greek authorities’ vessels, driven to open water, and abandoned at sea,” said ‘Legal Center Lesbos’.
“Despite the irrefutable evidence of this practice, the Greek authorities continue to veer between outright denial of collective expulsions and praise for their “effective maritime controls” in bringing down the number of new arrivals – while European institutions and Member States’ remain near-silent about the ongoing commission of these crimes.
Greece’s dystopian use of rescue equipment to expel migrants is a particularly visible manifestation of European border policies – but it is only one strand of the region’s ongoing, and often invisible, violence towards migrants.”
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