HRW report: Iraqis and other asylum seekers and migrants in Greece and Turkey
Human Rights Watch publicou hoxe un informe sobre as violacións dos Direitos Humanos que sofren os refuxiados e outros migrantes, nomeadamente os que veñen de Iraq, en Grecia e en Turquía. O informe leva por título “Stuck in a Revolving Door: Iraqis and Other Asylum Seekers and Migrants at the Greece/Turkey Entrance to the European Union”. Copio un extracto da súa introducción:
Iraqis are currently the largest nationality group of asylum seekers lodging new claims in the European Union (EU), and Greece has become their favored entry point. But Greece does not want this role, nor do Iraqis appear to want to stay in Greece, but would prefer to seek asylum in countries to the west and north. However, Iraqi asylum seekers find themselves stuck in Greece. First, they can’t move onward because EU asylum law, via the Dublin II regulation, normally requires asylum seekers to lodge their claims for protection in the first EU country in which they set foot and they also can’t move back home because of fear of war and persecution. They are almost never provided asylum in Greece.
Most Iraqi refugees attempt to enter the EU via the Greek islands off the coast of Turkey or by crossing the Evros river that marks Greece’s land border with Turkey. Despite having 1,170 kilometers of porous land borders and 18,400 kilometers of coastline, including islands in close proximity to Turkey, Greek police and Coast Guard authorities are zealous in their efforts to prevent irregular entry. In 2007, Greek police recorded 112,369 arrests for illegal entry or presence. However, Human Rights Watch believes this is the tip of the iceberg. Many, perhaps most, of the apprehensions in the border region are not recorded at all.
Police in the Evros region (northeastern Greece) systematically arrest migrants on Greek territory and detain them for a period of days without registering them. After rounding up a sufficient number of migrants, the police take them to the Evros river at nightfall and forcibly and secretly expel them to the Turkish side.The Turkish General Staff has reported that Greece “unlawfully deposited at our borders” nearly 12,000 third-country nationals between 2002 and 2007. Because this number only indicates those migrants who the Turkish border authorities apprehended and registered and many evade arrest, the actual number that Greece has summarily expelled is very likely to be higher.
In addition to summary expulsions of migrants from inside Greek territory, Greek police and Coast Guard officials also push migrants back from the border or from Greek territorial waters, in some cases puncturing inflatable boats or otherwise disabling them before setting them adrift as they push them toward the Turkish coast. When rounding up and expelling migrants, border-enforcement officials usually make no effort to communicate with them or to do any screening whatsoever to determine their possible needs for protection and in some cases beat and otherwise mistreat them.
This report is about obstacles placed at the Greek entrance to the EU that prevent Iraqis and other asylum seekers and migrants from entering the European Union or that summarily expel them when they do. It includes testimonies from Iraqis and other asylum seekers and migrants on both sides of the Greek-Turkish border about pushbacks and summary expulsions from Greece, inhuman and degrading conditions of detention in Greece, Greek police and coast guard brutality and harassment, and the blocking of access to asylum in Greece as well as the denial of asylum and other forms of protection to those needing it.
This report is also about abusive treatment of migrants by Turkish border authorities in the border region with Greece, including inhuman and degrading conditions of detention in direct violation of Turkey’s obligations under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). Once detained, such migrants have no meaningful opportunity to seek asylum or other forms of protection in Turkey and are often held indefinitely until family or friends are able to provide them return tickets. Turkey, which has placed a limitation on the Refugee Convention that only recognizes Europeans as refugees, continues to put Iraqis apprehended at the Greek border on buses and return them to Iraq without giving them any meaningful opportunity to seek protection before being returned.
Given the risk of serious harm arising from generalized violence and widespread targeted persecution in Iraq, Human Rights Watch regards Turkey’s return of Iraqis apprehended at the Greek border, in the absence of meaningful opportunities to seek asylum, as a violation of the principle of non-refoulement, the cornerstone of refugee rights law that prohibits the return of a refugee to persecution. International human rights law in the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment or Treatment (CAT) also prohibits returning anyone to face torture. On the regional level, Article 3 of the ECHR also prohibits European states from returning anyone who would face a real risk of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.
Human Rights Watch believes that Greece is violating the principle of non-refoulement not only by returning to Turkey Iraqis who may be subjected to onward return to Iraq, but also by returning any migrants to Turkey because they face a real risk of inhuman or degrading treatment there. The conditions that Human Rights Watch found at the Tunca center in Edirne, in particular, show that migrants returned from Greece are systematically and consistently subjected to inhuman and degrading conditions. By returning migrants to such conditions, Greece is in breach of its obligations under the ECHR. […]