Frontex Failing to Protect People at EU Borders

Human Rights Watch - Wikipedia

Frontex Failing to Protect People at EU Borders

Stronger Safeguards Vital as Border Agency Expands

A Portuguese vessel in a Frontex operation in Lesbos, Greece, 2016.
A Portuguese vessel in a Frontex operation in Lesbos, Greece, 2016. © 2016 Frontex

(Brussels) – The European Union border guard agency’s oversight mechanisms have failed to safeguard people against serious human rights violations at the EU’s external borders, Human Rights Watch said today.

An analysis of the actions of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, known as Frontex, shows a pattern of failure to credibly investigate or take steps to mitigate abuses against migrants at EU external borders, even in the face of clear evidence of rights violations.

“Frontex has repeatedly failed to take effective action when allegations of human rights violations are brought to its attention,” said Eva Cossé, Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Its rapid growth into an executive agency of the EU, with increased powers, funding, and legal responsibilities makes it all the more urgent for Frontex to put in place effective tools to safeguard fundamental rights.”

Human Rights Watch has examined in detail the situation in three countries where Frontex has major operations and where it failed to act promptly or at all in the face of credible evidence of abuse. On June 8, 2021, Human Rights Watch wrote to Frontex with its findings with the intention of including its response in the report but has yet to receive a response.

European and international nongovernmental groups, including Human Rights Watch, and media outlets have consistently reported abuses— by officials from EU member states against people arriving at EU borders where Frontex is operating. These include violence, illegal pushbacks, and denial of access to asylum by countries including BulgariaCroatia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, and Malta. 

On June 23 Amnesty International is releasing related research on pushbacks from Greece to Turkey, which also includes a call for accountability for Frontex.

Frontex has seven oversight, reporting, and monitoring mechanisms with the stated purpose of ensuring that its officers do not engage in abuse, are held accountable if they do, and are not complicit in abuse by EU member states. They include a system to report serious incidents that has recorded a few incidents but failed to prevent abuse, and hold those responsible accountable. Under Article 46 of the Frontex Regulation, the agency also has a duty to suspend or terminate operations in case of serious abuses, but has only done so once, in Hungary, after a European court ruling.

In Greece, evidence has come to light since October 2020 that Frontex played an active role in concealing and supporting pushbacks of migrants at the land and maritime borders with Turkey. Frontex also went ahead with a rapid border operation (RABIT) in Greece in March 2020, although the Greek authorities had openly put abusive measures in place. These included temporarily suspending access to asylum, prosecuting asylum seekers for irregular entry, and violently forcing them back across the border.

Responding to widely reported allegations of Frontex involvement in illegal pushbacks, the Frontex Management Board created a Working Group in November 2020, consisting of 8 country representatives and the European Commission, to investigate 13 reported incidents in the Aegean Sea maritime border with Turkey. The group reported in March 2021 that there had been no wrongdoing by Greece or Frontex, despite clear evidence to the contrary. It also failed to look into other abuses by Greek authorities in areas where Frontex is operating, including violent pushbacks at Greece’s land border with Turkey.

In Hungary, Frontex failed for four years to take measures to prevent or stop human rights violations, despite reports from the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) about Hungary’s abusive treatment of asylum seekers and migrants, calls from Frontex’s own consultative forum on fundamental rights to suspend operations, and legal action by the European Commission against Hungary. Frontex suspended operations only after the EU Court of Justice found in December 2020 that Hungary was breaking EU law.

In CroatiaFrontex maintains its presence despite credible and consistent reports by Human Rights Watch and others of pushbacks, often violent, of migrants and asylum seekers into Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia since 2016.

As an EU agency, Frontex is bound to carry out all its operations consistent with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (including the right to asylum), the European Convention on Human Rights, and other norms of international law. Human rights law obliges Frontex not to expose anyone to human rights abuse either directly or indirectly and to take necessary measures to protect people from prohibited ill-treatment. Frontex’s own mandate, deriving from the Frontex Regulation, requires all personnel deployed in its operations to respect fundamental rights.

Frontex’s Management Board has expressed concern about the effectiveness of its reporting and monitoring mechanisms, and called for urgent improvements. Similarly, on June 15, the EU Ombudsman published a report that was critical of the functioning of the agency’s complaints mechanism and the role of its fundamental rights officer and made recommendations for reform. The European Parliament is also investigating Frontex operations.

“The European Union and its member states have a collective responsibility to ensure that Frontex operates in accordance with EU and international human rights law standards,” Cossé said. “That can’t happen unless Frontex avoids participation or complicity in abuses and its officials are held to account if they abuse people or put their rights at risk.”

For detailed analysis and recommendations, please see below.

Frontex was founded in 2004 as a European Union border enforcement and management agency. Its duties include enforcing migration control at the EU’s external borders.

Initially, Frontex played a coordinating role, using seconded officers to support member states at EU external borders. Over the last 15 years, its authority has significantly expanded. Its budget has skyrocketed, from 118 million euro in 2011 to 460 million euro in 2020, and is expected to average 800 million euro a year over the next seven years. In 2019 it was given a mandate to set up a standing corps of 10,000 border guards by 2027, giving it significant executive powers.

Frontex is active in numerous joint operations along EU external borders, including in the Mediterranean Sea and the Balkans, working closely with both EU and non-EU states.

Methodology 

For the purpose of this report, Human Rights Watch used its previous on-the-ground research in Croatia, Greece, and Hungary documenting abuses taking place at the external borders of those states. It analyzed Frontex’s oversight, reporting, and monitoring mechanisms in operations in those and other countries. Human Rights Watch also reviewed the documents from Frontex and related bodies, and reports and other documents from non-governmental organizations, media organizations, and academics. 

The resulting recommendations apply to all places where Frontex is present, including in aerial surveillance operations and cooperation with Libya’s coast guard.

Frontex Under Scrutiny

In October 2020, a joint media investigation concluded that Frontex may have been complicit in human rights violations at the Greek-Turkish maritime border, in the Aegean Sea. It documented six instances between March and August 2020 in which Frontex was either in close proximity to a pushback or directly involved. Journalists reported that asylum seekers and migrants were prevented from reaching EU soil or were forced out of EU waters, in breach of EU and international law.

The allegations of the agency’s complicity in these pushbacks and the serious shortcomings of its reporting and monitoring mechanisms, as well as other concerns about Frontex have led to multiple ongoing investigations by EU bodies: the European Parliament, the European Ombudsman, and the European Anti-Fraud Office.

Frontex has also been accused of enabling the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept migrants in the Central Mediterranean, and then take them back to Libya, where they face nightmarish detention conditions. A joint media investigation reported in April 2021 that since January 2020, Frontex aircraft had flown over migrant boats in at least 20 cases, before Libya’s coast guard intercepted them and towed them back to Libya. Frontex has also been involved in training Libya’s coast guard.

Over the years, Frontex has relied on its coordinating role and lack of executive authority to evade human rights responsibility. In December 2020 Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri told the European Parliament there was no evidence of Frontex’s involvement in abuses in the Aegean and that only member states had the authority to make operational decisions, implying that Frontex could not be held responsible.

A 2011 investigation by Human Rights Watch into Frontex operations in Greece found the agency was complicit in abuse by handing over migrants it apprehended to Greek police for detention in inhumane conditions.

While some progress has been made since 2011 in clarifying the agency’s human rights obligations, and developing systems for addressing fundamental rights violations, in practice there has been little progress toward ensuring that the deployment of Frontex does not lead to complicity in abuse.

Oversight Mechanisms

Frontex has seven oversight, monitoring, and accountability entities or systems: the Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights (CFFR), a Fundamental Rights Officer (FRO), fundamental rights monitors; a Serious Incident Reporting mechanism (SIR), an Individual Complaints MechanismForced Return Monitoring, and a duty to suspend or terminate operations or funding in a member state or cancel deployment in case of serious abuses linked to its activities.

Assessment by Human Rights Watch and others of these entities and systems show that they have failed to prevent complicity by Frontex in human rights abuses or to ensure accountability.

Frontex’s Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights (CFFR) brings together European institutions and international and civil society organizations to advise Frontex on fundamental rights. Frontex should under its mandate consult the CFFR on matters such as the Fundamental Rights Strategy, the functioning of the complaints mechanism, and codes of conduct, and may do so on any other aspect of fundamental rights. But in its seventh annual report, in 2019 the CFFR notes that it was not consulted on the development of the Frontex European Integrated Border Management Strategy.

The forum itself faces barriers to carrying out its tasks, including to “access information about the respect for fundamental rights.” In its report, it said that it lacks the necessary support to fulfill its role, such as a secretariat independent of Frontex.

The Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), a network of organizations working to protect undocumented migrants’ human rights, had been a forum member, but stepped down in January. In its statement about leaving, it said that the forum’s working methods don’t allow for meaningful participation, and that it was not consulted on human rights related matters in some cases, that it was not given sufficient notice to review information, and that Frontex often ignored its comments.

Frontex’s fundamental rights officer (FRO) is responsible for handling complaints related to fundamental rights issues and reporting to Frontex and the CFFR. Questions have been raised about the officer’s independence, given that Frontex management hires the officer. Letters published in January 2021 by Statewatch, a group that monitors civil rights in the European Union, outline attempts by Frontex’s executive director, who under applicable regulations should have no role in the appointment, to maintain hierarchical supervision of the role, undermine the post holder, or otherwise limit the officer’s independence.

CFFR has said that the officer “lacks human resources required to adequately fulfil its tasks and to … comply with its fundamental rights obligations.” This “seriously hinders the Agency’s ability to deliver on its fundamental rights obligations including on key areas such as Frontex operational activities.”

Fundamental rights monitors were introduced in 2019 and should have been in place by December 2020. The 40 officers, selected and appointed by the fundamental rights officer, are meant to visit Frontex operating areas and report to the officer on possible human rights violations. By the end of April 2021, only 20 had been recruited, according to a media reportLetters published in January by Statewatch go into the some of the reasons behind the failure to hire all 40. On June 15 the EU Ombudsman criticized the delays in hiring the 40 fundamental rights monitors.

Frontex can assist member states to help return people whose protection claims have been rejected to their country of origin. To ensure that these operations comply with EU law, Frontex has established a pool of forced-return monitors. A 2020 EU-funded academic study raised concerns about the effectiveness of this system, noting that the reports from the fundamental rights officer in 2018 and 2019 note serious violations of fundamental rights during joint return operations.

Inadequate Investigations

Frontex oversight mechanisms fail to carry out effective investigations into allegations of abuse during its operations.

The Serious Incident Reporting (SIR) mechanism is the key entity for reporting fundamental rights violations during Frontex operations.

According to the Frontex Code of Conduct, any Frontex officer who believes fundamental rights have been violated during a Frontex operation has the obligation to report this through the SIR mechanism. Yet few incidents are actually reported, and those that are do not lead to changes in practice, as demonstrated by the inquiry conducted by the Management Board Working Group investigation into Greece.

The Frontex Consultative Forum has raised concerns since 2018 about the effectiveness of the SIR mechanism in its annual reports and said it should be reformed. In 2018, Frontex only received 3 serious incident reports of alleged violations of fundamental rights, although independent bodies, including nongovernmental groups, made a much larger number of such reports. On June 15 the EU Ombudsman noted that “the SIR is an elaborate system, involving many participants, with the role of the FRO beginning only later in the process. This may diminish the influence of the FRO.”

March 2020 case demonstrates the mechanism’s failure. The commander of a Danish patrol boat in the Frontex-run Operation Poseidon in Greece said that after his crew rescued 33 people from a dinghy, Operation Poseidon headquarters ordered his crew to put them back on the dingy and “tow it out of Greek waters.”

Frontex told Human Rights Watch in June 2020 that the Danish crew had been given “incorrect instructions” by the Greek Coast Guard and the “misunderstanding” was later clarified, which Frontex director repeated during a debate in the European Parliament on July 6, 2020.

However, in November, the EU Observer published a redacted email chain from Frontex about the incident that confirms that the Greek Coast Guard gave direct orders in March to the Danish patrol boat to push people back into Turkish waters. Despite the seriousness of the incident, Frontex officials reportedly never filed a serious incident report.

Even when Frontex’s border guards file these reports, little action is taken as highlighted by the Working Group inquiry on Greece, opened in November 2020, which looked at 13 serious incident reports alleging a Greek Coast Guard misconduct. The Working Group report accepted the Greek government’s position without verifying allegations of abuses or contradictory information and gave little indication that the reports were taken seriously. A May report by Der Spiegel said that internal documents included evidence that Frontex’s own human rights watchdog considered the investigations by the consortium of media outlets, including Der Spiegel, on Aegean pushbacks to be based “on solid evidence.”

The Individual Complaints Mechanism was introduced in 2016. It allows anyone whose rights are violated by staff deployed during a Frontex operation to submit a complaint to Frontex. The procedure is managed by the FRO who oversees the admissibility of complaints.

The agency is allowed to conduct a substantive investigation and impose sanctions only when the allegations concern permanent staff. When it comes to Frontex border guards seconded by member states, Frontex can only refer complaints to the member state concerned, and cannot require it to respond.

Moreover, the complaints mechanism cannot be considered an effective remedy within the meaning of article 47 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and article 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). As an employee of Frontex, the rights officer lacks independence. Moreover, even if the rights officer accepts the complaint against a staff member, the Frontex executive director is responsible for investigating it.

According to the June 2021 report by the EU Ombudsman on Frontex accountability mechanisms, between 2016 and January 2021, the FRO received 69 complaints of which 22 were admissible, with no complaints concerning the actions of Frontex staff members. The Ombudsman noted there has been “inadequate transparency in relation to the mechanism’s activities although progress is now being made” and recommended improving complaints handling and follow up and the accessibility of the complaints mechanism to potential victims.

In its March 2020 final report, the Working Group established to look into Frontex operations in the Aegean said that “reporting systems currently in place are not systematically applied, do not allow [Frontex] to have a clear picture of the facts relating to (potential) serious incidents and do not allow for a systematic analysis of fundamental rights concerns.” It added that Frontex “needs to make urgent improvements in this respect.”

Accountability Failures

Organizations including Human Rights Watch and media outlets have reported persistent violations against people arriving at EU borders, including pushbacks in some cases accompanied by violence. This includes in BulgariaCroatia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, and Malta, countries where Frontex has been working. In no case has Frontex taken clear and credible action to address those abuses or, where the risk has arisen, to avoid complicity in them.

In only one case – Hungary – has Frontex exercised its duty to halt funding or operations or to cancel a planned operation based on serious and persistent violations of fundamental rights related to its activities. However, this suspension came late after years of warnings and only after an EU court ruling.

Frontex’s director told the European Parliament Scrutiny group in March 2021 that article 46 should only be used as a last resort, with warnings and messages to host member states when there are concerns. However, for such an approach to be effective, the agency needs to demonstrate its willingness to take other actions in the interim to ensure improvements, which it has not done.

Hungary

In July 2016, Hungary adopted a new asylum law creating a fictitious “transit” area, eight kilometers inside Hungary’s external border, from which people could be pushed back to Serbia without any possibility to seek asylum. It also trapped asylum seekers in that area in appalling conditions.

A man holds a child close to a border crossing between Serbia and Hungary, Kelebija, Serbia, Thursday, February 2020.
A man holds a child close to a border crossing between Serbia and Hungary, Kelebija, Serbia, Thursday, February 2020. © 2020 Marko Drobnjakovic via AP Images

In November 2016 the Consultative Forum recommended that Frontex withdraw from Hungary until it could guarantee that people at the border are “given access to an individualized procedure and to asylum … are not summarily returned to Serbia, and that instances of police abuse and violence are investigated.” Frontex never adopted this recommendation, even after the fundamental rights officer made two field visits to Hungary and raised similar concerns.

UNHCRHuman Rights Watchinternational human rights bodiesHungarian civil society, and the media also repeatedly raised concerns that Hungary’s border operations violated human rights, refugee, and EU law. The European Commission pursued legal enforcement action against Hungary over its regime.

It was not until January 27, 2021, that Frontex suspended its operations in Hungary. The move followed a ruling by the European Court of Justice in December 2020 that Hungary “was in breach of EU law” by restricting access to the territory to asylum seekers and migrants and by pushing them back over the Hungarian-Serbian border into Serbia.

A report published by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee on Frontex in January 2021 concluded that Frontex’s human rights compliance mechanisms are ineffective and that the agency did not properly investigate human rights violations. The committee notes in its report that its experience regarding the effectiveness of Frontex complaints mechanism is “very bleak.”

Greece

Frontex border officers stand near migrants on the island of Lesbos, Greece, on March 2020.
Frontex border officers stand near migrants on the island of Lesbos, Greece, on March 2020. © 2020 Konstantinos Tsakalidis/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Frontex operation in Greece is the agency’s largest, with almost 600 guest officers, who perform border surveillance and assist in identifying and registering migrants. Officers have been at the Evros land border with Turkey since 2010, and in the Aegean Sea as part of Operation Poseidon Sea since 2006.

For more than a decade, UNHCR, the IOM, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the Committee for the Prevention of Torturenongovernmental groups, and media outlets have reported the unlawful return, including through violent pushbacks, of groups and individuals from Greece to Turkey by Greek law enforcement officers or unidentified masked men who appear to be working in tandem with border enforcement officials.

Since 2020 organizations including Human Rights Watch have documented multiple incidents in which Greek Coast Guard personnel, sometimes accompanied by armed masked men, abandoned migrants at sea, violently transferring people from Greek islands or from other boats to motorless rafts, and leaving them adrift near Turkish territorial waters.

Nongovernmental organizations and the media have also reported in 2020 on persistent allegations that Greek border forces carried out pushbacks in some cases with violence through the Evros land border with Turkey. Human Rights Watch has documented such situations in 20082018, and in March and July 2020.

On February 27, 2020, Turkish authorities announced they would no longer stop asylum seekers and migrants from leaving Turkish territory to reach the European Union, leading thousands of asylum seekers and migrants to congregate on the Turkish-Greek border. On March 1 the Greek government suspended access to asylum for 30 days for people irregularly entering the country. It prosecuted people for irregular entry, arbitrarily and summarily detained hundreds of new arrivals, and violently pushed back people attempting to enter Greece.

On March 2, apparently refusing to consider evidence of multiple violations of EU and human rights law by Greece, Frontex announced it was opening “a rapid border intervention” to assist Greece. On March 13, with ongoing human rights violations at Greece’s external borders, Frontex announced the deployment of an additional 100 border guards. These actions by Frontex indicate a disregard for its duty to avoid complicity in human rights abuse and an apparent breach of its own regulations.

In June 2020 Frontex responded to a Human Rights Watch inquiry about the allegations of human rights violations at Greece’s external borders, saying it had received no reports of breaches of fundamental rights in its operations by Frontex officers or by Greek border guards in Greece, and did not have the authority to investigate such allegations.

Despite all of the evidence of wrongdoing by the Greek authorities, the Management Board Working Group concluded in March 2021 that suspending or terminating the Frontex operation under article 46 would not be justified.

Croatia

A refugee in Bosnia and Herzegovina shows injuries he says were the result of a beating by Croatian police August 2018.
A refugee in Bosnia and Herzegovina shows injuries he says were the result of a beating by Croatian police August 2018. © 2018 Maciej Luczniewski/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Human Rights Watch has documented ongoing, summary collective expulsions of migrants and asylum seekers and often abusive pushbacks at borders by Croatia since 2016. Border officials used force and violence, pummeling people with fists and kicking them. They sometimes directed violence at women and children. Border officials abandoned migrants in remote border areas, and in some cases forced them to cross freezing streams at the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is outside the EU external frontier.

The UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, the Fundamental Rights Agencythe Council of Europe commissioner for human rights, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have all raised concerns about the situation at the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Croatian authorities have denied allegations of violent pushbacks and failed to take credible steps to halt the practice, including failing to create the independent border monitoring mechanism that the European Commission requested.

In May 2019 Frontex’s director confirmed in a letter to Human Rights Watch that Frontex had an aerial surveillance system since July 2018 on the Croatia-Bosnia and Herzegovina border, but said that Frontex had not detected any events indicating human rights violations, including pushback operations in the area.

The Consultative Forum expressed concerns in 2020 about Frontex’s continued operations in Croatia “given the consistent reports of police violence and pushbacks by Croatian authorities as documented by media and various organisations, including those represented in the Consultative Forum.”

Despite the persistent reports of violations of fundamental rights, and a duty under article 46 to suspend or terminate operations when those violations are of a serious nature or are likely to persist, Frontex continues to operate in Croatia.

Recommendations

Frontex and its Management Board should:

  • Ensure that Frontex operations are consistent with its human rights obligations under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and applicable international human rights law in the regions where it operates, including the European Convention on Human Rights, and that Frontex complies with its duty to avoid complicity in abuse;
  • Ensure that the Fundamental Rights Officer and Fundamental Rights Monitors have adequate resources and that they have guaranteed independence to investigate allegations of the agency’s direct involvement or complicity in abuses, and act upon their findings and recommendations;
  • Suspend under article 46 the funding and deployment of EU border guards to countries that violate European and international standards on human rights, and publicly report on Frontex assessment of information available on violations by host member states and on actions considered and taken under article 46;
  • Conduct thorough assessments of the risk of complicity in human rights violations by Frontex in all of its operations, including aerial surveillance, taking into account reports from the Consultative Forum and its members before engaging in joint operations or deploying migration management support teams (former RABIT).

The European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of the EU should:

  • Establish a legally binding framework to implement article 46 of the Frontex regulation for suspension, termination, and cancellation of operations and funding;
  • Empower the European Ombudsman or the European Parliament to refer Frontex to the European Commission for investigation in the event that the Frontex executive director fails to activate article 46 despite persistent and serious rights violations by a host state;
  • Set up a credible and independent entity to assess whether the Fundamental Rights Officer and Fundamental Rights Monitors are able to carry out their role credibly and independently and that Frontex effectively acts upon their findings and recommendations, and if needed to directly investigate allegations of the agency’s direct involvement or complicity into abuses;
  • Under article 112 of the 2019 Frontex regulation, create a system for joint parliamentary scrutiny, by the European Parliament and national parliaments, similar to that in place for Europol, to ensure the political control of the activities of Frontex in the fulfillment of its mission, including with respect to the impact of Frontex’s activities on fundamental rights;
  • Put in place an independent monitoring system, as proposed in the new Pact on Migration and Asylum and required by the Returns Directive, to investigate alleged violations, including by police and border guards of EU member states, and to prevent future transgressions, in accordance with May 2021 guidance by the Council of Europe Committee on the Prevention of Torture.
  • Ensure that Frontex funding and material support, including in border and aerial surveillance capacities, do not encourage or contribute to human rights violations in Europe or in third countries;
  • Hold member states accountable, including by opening infringement proceedings, for human rights violations committed at the EU’s external borders;

EU member states participating in Frontex activities should:

  • Condition deployment of their officials in Frontex operations on ongoing independent assessment that the operation by the host state’s border guards adhere to binding human rights standards, and commit to suspend their participation if credible evidence of violations by Frontex or the host state come to light;
  • Ensure that their officials deployed on Frontex missions understand their obligations under EU and international law, and are trained and instructed in their duty to report any incident of abuse they witness both to Frontex and to their national headquarters.

Greece: Pushbacks and violence against refugees and migrants are de facto border policy

Greece: Violence, lies, and pushbacks - Greece | ReliefWeb

Greece: Pushbacks and violence against refugees and migrants are de facto border policy

23 June 2021, 00:01 UTC

 Greece: Pushbacks and violence against refugees and migrants are de facto border policy 

  • Amnesty International reveals new evidence of torture, ill-treatment and illegal pushbacks of refugees and migrants to Turkey 
  • People apprehended and detained up to 700km away from the border before being transferred and returned at the land border with Turkey 
  • Amnesty calls on the EU border force Frontex to suspend or withdraw its Greek operations 
  • Spokespeople available  

Greek border forces are violently and illegally detaining groups of refugees and migrants before summarily returning them to Turkey, in contravention of their human rights obligations under EU and international law, new research from Amnesty International has revealed. 

The report, Greece: Violence, lies and pushbacks, documents how the Greek authorities are conducting illegal pushbacks at land and sea. It focuses primarily on unlawful operations in the Evros region, at the land border between Greece and Turkey.  In February and March 2020, Greece violently pushed back refugees and migrants in response to Turkey’s unilateral opening of the land borders. By documenting incidents that occurred in the aftermath of those events, from June to December 2020, this new research demonstrates that human rights violations at Greece’s borders continue and have become an entrenched practice.  It is clear that multiple arms of the Greek authorities are closely coordinating to brutally apprehend and detain people who are seeking safety in Greece, subjecting many to violence, then transferring them to the banks of the Evros river before summarily returning them to Turkey, Adriana Tidona, Migration researcher for Europe at Amnesty International

“Our research shows that violent pushbacks have become the de facto Greek border control policy in the Evros region. The level of organization needed to execute these returns, which affected around 1000 people in the incidents we documented, some numerous times and sometimes via unofficial detention sites, shows just how far Greece is going to illegally return people and cover it up.” 

The vast majority of people Amnesty International spoke to reported that they had experienced or witnessed violence from people they described as uniformed Greek officials, as well as men in civilian clothing. This included blows with sticks or truncheons, kicks, punches, slaps, and pushes, sometimes resulting in severe injuries. Men were often subjected to humiliating and aggressive naked searches, sometimes in the sight of women and children. 

In most cases, the acts of violence reported violated the international prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment. Some incidents also amounted to torture, due to their severity and humiliating or punitive intent. 

Saif*, a 25-year-old Syrian man pushed back four times in August 2020, told Amnesty International that on his second attempt, the group he was travelling with was ambushed by “soldiers” in black gear and balaclavas and transferred to the banks of the Evros river, which runs across the Greek and Turkish border. Two people in the group tried to escape but were stopped and ruthlessly beaten by one of the soldiers. Saif, who suspected that the man’s spine had been broken, told Amnesty International: “He could not move at all, he could not even move his hands.” According to Saif, after soldiers took the two injured men across the river to Turkey, Turkish soldiers and an ambulance came to assist the injured. 

One individual told Amnesty International that during one of the return operations, he and his group were forced off the boat and into the water near an islet in the middle of the Evros river, where they remained stranded for days. A man who was forced off the boat could not swim and screamed for help as he bobbed up and down in the water and was seen to be swept away with the current.   

Pushbacks are not only taking place in border areas. People are also being apprehended and detained far into the Greek mainland before being returned to the Evros region to be illegally returned. Amnesty International spoke to four people who were arbitrarily apprehended and detained in areas of northern Greece and ultimately pushed back to Turkey in larger groups. Among them were a recognized refugee and a registered asylum seeker who had been living in mainland Greece for almost a year. 

One of them, Nabil* a 31-year-old Syrian man and registered asylum-seeker in Greece told Amnesty International that he was arrested at the port in the city of Igoumenitsa, in North-western Greece. Police told him that he would be transferred to Athens and released, however he was then transferred to a second detention site closer to the Evros land border, beaten and ultimately pushed back in a group of 70 people, including children. He told Amnesty International: “Before I entered the bus, I showed the police my asylum card, but they took it from me, shredded it, and told me to get into the bus.” All of the people we spoke to were pushed back from areas where Frontex has significant numbers of staff. The agency cannot therefore claim to be ignorant of the abuses that we, and many others, have documented. Frontex has the duty to prevent human rights violations, if they cannot do this effectively, they should withdraw or suspend operations in Greece. Adriana Tidona

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:     
Alison Abrahams on alison.abrahams@amnesty.org +32 2 548 27 73 or +32 483 680 812  Or press@amnesty.org +44 20 7413 5566 

Background 

Amnesty International’s report GREECE: VIOLENCE, LIES AND PUSHBACKS is based on conversations with 16 people, who experienced 21 pushbacks. It primarily focussing pushbacks from the Evros border between June and December 2020. Based on their testimonies, these unlawful operations are estimated to have affected around 1000 people.  

Today, Human Rights Watch is releasing related research which looks at Frontex’s accountability for human rights violations at the EU’s external borders, including in Greece. 

Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, has an obligation to take reasonable measures to protect people from human rights violations and to suspend or withdraw its activities if such violations are occurring.  

*Names have been changes to protect identities. 

20/6/2021: Αναστολή άλλου ενός λογαριασμού του Ιωάννη Λαγού στο Twitter μετά από αναφορά του ΕΠΣΕ

Και ο κατά τον ίδιο τον Ιωάννη Λαγό έβδομος λογαριασμός του στο Twitter αναστάλθηκε μετά την άμεση αναφορά του Ελληνικού Παρατηρητηρίου των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ), όπως είχε συμβεί και με προηγούμενους λογαριασμούς του:

Greece: Pushbacks of over 7000 migrants including children may amount to torture and must be investigated

Shutterstock 1090230443


Joint statement

Geneva – Athens, 18 June 2021

As we celebrate World Refugee Day, the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) call on Greek authorities to put an end to its pushback policy that may amount to torture. In 147 incidents documented by GHM, members of the Hellenic Coast Guard and police have tortured and forcibly returned more than 7000 migrants, including children, to Turkey without due process despite an ongoing severe global health crisis. The Supreme Court recently ordered 16 first instance prosecutors to start investigations in their respective jurisdictions. We call on the authorities to promptly identify and prosecute the authors and provide adequate protection to all asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants.

Pushbacks from several Greek islands

From March to December 2020, several Greek non-governmental organisations have documented testimonies of migrants from Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan, and various African countries, among others. They detail incidents where the Hellenic Coast Guard have blocked boats heading to Greek islands in the Aegean Sea and pushed them back to Turkish waters, or arrested them in the Evros area, at the land border between Greece and Turkey, before sending them back to Turkey.

The testimonies also give accounts of hundreds of men, women, and children arrested by coast guards during different incidents. In some cases, people who had already arrived on the Islands of Lesbos, Samos, Simi or Rhodes were pushed back and left drifting on inflatable life rafts in helpless conditions and without life jackets.

In many of these cases, even though migrants had reached the Greek territory and clearly requested asylum and international protection, they were systematically transferred to the sea or to a nearby port by Greek army or police officers and handed over to coast guards.

In 2016, during a visit to the country, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants had stressed that the primary focus of sea operations should be search and rescue and not combating irregular migration. Despite this, the Greek government seems to be taking advantage of the global focus on the Covid-19 pandemic to tackle the arrivals in the Greek Aegean islands via tactics that violate legal norms.

Use of force, torture, and other forms of ill-treatment

Various migrant groups who had arrived on Greek islands or on the mainland were captured by the military or police forces, who confiscated their belongings, including mobile phones, passports or other identification documents, large amounts of money, and even prescribed medication. Survivors testified that police officers were verbally abusive, that they did not get any food or water and had no access to bathrooms or sanitation facilities. There are also accounts of policemen who beat migrants and detained them for several days before they were pushed back.

According to the Greek law, detention of third-country nationals for the purpose of return is applied when there are no other adequate and less restrictive measures. In practice, the authorities have systematically used pre-removal detention in inhumane conditions before returning them to Turkey.

Greek human rights organisations have repeatedly stressed that the official policy is motivated by discrimination, xenophobia, and racism. Following his 2016 visit, the Special Rapporteur noted an increase in racist and xenophobic attacks against migrants, exacerbated by the economic crisis in Greece.

Lack of due process guarantees

Although the migrants arrested and sent back had clearly and repeatedly stated that they were applying for asylum, they were not presented to a judge, and could not meet a medical doctor, an interpreter, or a lawyer. Evidence and testimonies show that many of them had documents to prove their persecution in Jordan, Afghanistan, Turkey or Syria, among others. Others were forced to signed documents that they were not able to read.

Another practice has been to separate members of the same family when sending them back. The requests of pregnant women and children in need of medical attention have been ignored.

The Special Rapporteur had already deeply regretted in 2016 the “policy of increasing the use of detention of persons irregularly entering Greek territory, including unaccompanied children and families”. His recommendation “to ensure a proper individual assessment of all migrants in order to identify vulnerabilities” has clearly not been followed by the Greek authorities.

To the contrary, the Greek government has been implementing a policy of obstructing access to international protection. The interception of migrants at sea or on Greek Islands and their transfer to ports before removing them directly without an effective registration of their asylum request is a clear violation of the non-refoulement principle. Their arrest, detention, and deportation to a country where they risk further deportation to the country that they have fled is a clear violation of the Convention Against Torture.

These actions violate international law, including the 1951 Refugee Convention and the UN Convention against Torture. They also contradict the national legislation that provides for guarantees to migrants, including those aged above 14, the right to access the asylum request procedure, to apply before competent authorities and be informed of their rights in a language they can understand, including with the support of an interpreter, and to remain on the territory while their application is being examined on an individual basis.

Vulnerable women and unaccompanied children

Many of the victims of the 147 incidents of pushbacks include children, mostly unaccompanied minors, and women. They too were subjected to the use of force, torture, and ill-treatment by the Hellenic Coast Guard and denied judicial guarantees, including the right to apply for asylum. The Greek authorities are thus violating, among others, the special protection that children are entitled to under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Greece is a Party, and the principle of the best interest of the child.

Violations of these provisions were recognized by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in a similar case involving unaccompanied minors in Spain, clearly stating that children “should be guaranteed a right to access to the territory, regardless of the documentation they have or lack, and to be referred to authorities in charge of evaluating their needs in terms of protection of their rights”.

Lack of prompt investigations and accountability

In the past years, several complaints and urgent appeals from local non-governmental organisations have not been properly investigated. The Prosecutor’s Office of the Athens Naval Court failed to investigate a 27 August 2020 formal complaint about 1,400 migrants who had been pushed back to Turkish waters in March-July of the same year. The Prosecutor did not conduct any preliminary examination, but simply correlated this case with a previous one and archived it without additional testimonies. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees also expressed concerns on these cases.

We welcome the recent order by the Greek Supreme Court to 16 prosecutors to conduct investigations on the allegations of pushbacks of more than 7000 migrants. Several unreported cases are nonetheless still waiting to be investigated, while pushbacks continue. The investigations by national authorities should therefore go beyond the incidents reported and address the overall policy of the Greek State to deny their rights to migrants and expose them to torture and ill-treatment in the context of the pushbacks.

A call for solidarity and inclusion

World Refugee Day 2021, which focuses on the power of inclusion, also marks the 70th anniversary of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. The shared experience of Covid-19 has showed that all States should contribute to protect the most vulnerable members of our societies, including asylum seekers, refugees, migrants, and other people who have been forcibly displaced.

For more information, please contact:
Iolanda Jaquemet, Director of Communications
ij@omct.org

+41 79 539 41 06

FURTHER READING

Greece: Legal case launched against Frontex director for “aggravated defamation”

Greece: Legal case launched against Frontex director for “aggravated defamation”

17 June 2021

  

A legal complaint has been submitted against Frontex executive director Fabrice Leggeri for “aggravated defamation by the press” by the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), on behalf of themselves and 27 people who were “illegally deported”.


The case has been brought to the Athens First Instance Prosecutor by Panayote Dimitras, GHM spokesperson. It accuses Leggeri of defamation for stating that complaints made by GHM on behalf of deported and pushed back people were based on Turkish propaganda.

GHM, having made numerous complaints on behalf of people illegally deported and pushed back from Europe’s borders, explain that these complaints are based on first hand testimony of people from Afghanistan, Congo, Burundi, and Morocco, as well as on reports and documentation by NGOs and a variety of media.

In a story published by the newspaper “Ta Nea”, Leggeri is quoted as claiming that videos broadcast by media outlets last year, appearing to show illegal pushbacks of migrants with Frontex involvement or knowledge, were “provided by the Turkish news agency [Anadolu] and by Turkish Coast Guard sources”.

As Dimitras explains:

The claim that there are no illegal pushbacks of foreigners and, above all, that the relevant allegations are based only or mainly on videos provided by… the Turkish Coast Guard are false and defamatory for GHM and the victims of illegal and in fact violent expulsions from Greek territory GHM represents”.

GHM submitted a complaint in May to the Supreme Court Prosecutor’s Office for 147 illegal deportations and pushbacks, with evidence based on documents and material with “almost nothing to do with the Turkish authorities”, mainly coming from documentation by collaborating NGOs. The Prosecutors of First Instance around Greece are now carrying out preliminary investigations.

Among others, GHM submitted a complaint by a person illegally deported from Thessaloniki via Evros with the possible involvement of Frontex, to the Prosecutor’s Office. This is under investigation by the First Inspector’s Office of Thessaloniki, as well as by the Greek Ombudsman.

The complaint centres on the fact that by misrepresenting allegations, Leggeri has:

“…claimed with intent that the allegations of deportations and pushbacks, most of which have been made by Panayote Dimitras and the 27 foreigners before the Greek justice and Greek administration, are false [and] instigated by Turkish propaganda, a false fact that can damage the honor or reputation of the accusers.”


Image: Frontex

Μιχαλολιάκος γνωστοποιεί παραπομπή σε δίκη για δημόσια υποκίνηση μίσους κατά μειονοτικών βουλευτών (υπόδικοι και Κασιδιάρης – Ηλιόπουλος)

Ο Νίκος Μιχαλολιάκος γνωστοποίησε στις 9 Ιουνίου 2021 πως κλήθηκε ως κατηγορούμενος να δικασθεί για όσα είχε πει στη Βουλή, το Μάρτιο 2018, κατά των 4 τότε μειονοτικών βουλευτών, μετά από μηνυτήρια αναφορά του Ελληνικού Παρατηρητηρίου των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ).

Κατά τη συνήθειά του, στο ακόλουθο κείμενό του παραπληροφόρησε τόσο διαστρεβλώνοντας τα τότε λόγια του όσο και αποκρύπτοντας πως στην επικείμενη δίκη του είναι συγκατηγορούμενος με τους Ηλία Κασιδιάρη και Παναγιώτη Ηλιόπουλο που έχουν σήμερα αποχωρήσει από τη Χρυσή Αυγή: ο πρώτος είναι ιδρυτής του κόμματος Έλληνες για την Πατρίδα ενώ ο δεύτερος έχει προσχωρήσει στο κόμμα του Γιάννη Λαγού Εθνική Λαϊκή Συνείδηση (ΕΛΑΣΥΝ).

Επίσης, τα τότε λόγια του δεν ήταν όπως γράφει τώρα “εάν θέλουν οι μουσουλμάνοι βουλευτές να σταματήσουν οι αιχμές εναντίον τους θα πρέπει κατηγορηματικά να δηλώσουν ότι Μητέρα Πατρίδα τους είναι η Ελλάδα και όχι η Τουρκία όπως δημόσια δήλωναν και δηλώνουν” αλλά αποκάλεσαν τους μειονοτικούς βουλευτές “Τούρκους πράκτορες” και “παράνομους” και τιμωρήθηκαν για αυτό πειθαρχικά από την ίδια τη Βουλή.

Η δίκη των τριών βουλευτών για παράβαση κατά συναυτουργία του Άρθρου 1.1 του αντιρατσιστικού νόμου 927/79 προσδιορίσθηκε για τις 4 Οκτωβρίου 2021 στο Γ’ Μονομελές Πλημμελειοδικείο Αθηνών.

ΠΑΣΠΑΡΤΟΥ: Το καλύτερο site για τον Εθνικισμό

ΝΕΟΣ ΝΟΜΟΣ ΤΗΣ ΝΕΑΣ ΔΗΜΟΚΡΑΤΙΑΣ ΚΑΤΑ ΧΡΥΣΗΣ ΑΥΓΗΣ

Μία ακόμη δίκη εναντίον μου και η “ιδιωτική” επίσκεψη Τσαβούσογλου στην Θράκη ΜΑΣ

(…) “Θυμήθηκα επί του προκειμένου ότι πριν λίγες ημέρες έλαβα στις φυλακές Δομοκού μία κλήση για να δικαστώ για παραβίαση του “αντιρατσιστικού” νόμου για έναν διάλογο στην βουλή μεταξύ εμού και του τότε προέδρου της βουλής Νικολάου Βούτση, διάλογος ο οποίος αφορούσε τους μουσουλμάνους βουλευτές. Συγκεκριμένα απευθυνόμενος στον πρόεδρο της βουλής του ΣΥΡΙΖΑ είπα ότι εάν θέλουν οι μουσουλμάνοι βουλευτές να σταματήσουν οι αιχμές εναντίον τους θα πρέπει κατηγορηματικά να δηλώσουν ότι Μητέρα Πατρίδα τους είναι η Ελλάδα και όχι η Τουρκία όπως δημόσια δήλωναν και δηλώνουν. Στην απάντησή του ο Βούτσης είπε ότι έχουν κάθε δικαίωμα να δηλώνουν ότι μητέρα πατρίδα είναι η Τουρκία και κίνησε πειθαρχική διαδικασία εναντίον μου και με σύμφωνη γνώμη όλων των κομμάτων (και της Νέας Δημοκρατίας) τιμωρήθηκα από την βουλή. Με αφορμή τον διάλογο αυτό ο γνωστός Δήμητρας του Παρατηρητηρίου υπέβαλε μηνυτήρια αναφορά (έχει υποβάλλει εκατοντάδες εναντίον των πάντων) εναντίον μου. Η ελληνική δικαιοσύνη βασιζόμενη στην αναφορά Δήμητρα μου άσκησε δίωξη και η δίκη έχει οριστεί για τον Οκτώβριο του 2021. Μάλιστα στο κλητήριο θέσπισμα της εισαγγελέως αναφέρει ότι οι μουσουλμάνοι κάτοικοι της Θράκης είναι… τουρκικής εθνικότητος. Ό,τι ακριβώς και ο Τσαβούσογλου! Μας πάνε όπως όλα δείχνουν για επαρχία της Τουρκίας και μάλιστα μέσα σε ένα κλίμα ενός “κούφιου” και υποκριτικού εθνικοπατριωτισμού.” (…)

11/06/2021: Αναστολή άλλων δύο λογαριασμών Λαγού στο Twitter μετά από αναφορές ΕΠΣΕ

Στις 11 Ιουνίου 2021, το Twitter ενημέρωσε το Ελληνικό Παρατηρητήριο των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ) πως ανέστειλε άλλους δύο λογαριασμούς του φυλακισμένου ναζί ευρωβουλευτή Ιωάννη Λαγού μετά από αναφορές του ΕΠΣΕ. Υπενθυμίζονται οι προηγούμενες δύο αναστολές λογαριασμών του Ιωάννη Λαγού:

11/06/2021: Complaint against Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri for aggravated defamation

GREEK HELSINKI MONITOR (GHM)
P.O.Box 60820, 15304 Glyka Nera, Tel. 2103472259 Fax: 2106018760
emailpanayotedimitras@gmail.com 
websitehttps://greekhelsinki.wordpress.com

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

COMPLAINT

Panayote Dimitras, GHM Spokesperson
individually and as legal representative of 27 illegally deported aliens

AGAINST

Fabrice Leggeri  (Executive Directors of Frontex)

fora aggravated defamation by the press

Athens, 11 June 2021

To the Athens First Instance Prosecutor

The present plaintif Panayote Dimitras is 1) founding spokesperson of the NGO Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) since 1993, 2) member of the Board of the European Implementation Network (EIN) since 2018 and 3) member of the General Assembly of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) since 2004.

One of the aims of GHM is reporting to Greek and international justice cases that are estimated to violate human rights, with emphasis in recent years on combatting racism, following in recent years repeated string recommendations by UN and Council of Europe bodies to Greece after they have noted a generalized impunity of racist crimes. In that framework, GHM runs a Racist Crimes Monitor where are recorded all the estimated as racist crimes that are subsequently submitted to the Prosecutors of Racist Crimes or to the competent agencies of the Hellenic Police. Also, a comprehensive thrid-party intervention by GHM in two cases of anti-Semitic and anti-Gypsy speech before the ECtHR contributed to the condemnation of Bulgaria in the respective applications, in which judgments the ECtHR redefined its case-law on the need to convict racist speech. Finally, GHM participates in the network of organizations that carry out in 2021 the EU Program to Monitor the Implementation of the Code of Conduct on Countering Illegal Hate Speech Online.

On 5 June 5 2021, the following text was published in the daily newspaper “Ta Nea“, as reproduced on its website, from where I was informed about it:

____________________________________________________________________________

«The sources are Anadolu [News Agency] and the Turkish Coast Guard»
Frontex Director: References to pushbacks are Turkish propaganda


The executive director of Frontex explains to “NEA” that there are legal interceptions at the Greek-Turkish maritime border, while he also refers to the provocations of the Turkish coast guard

Διευθυντής Frontex: Τουρκική προπαγάνδα τα περί παράνομων επαναπροωθήσεων | tanea.gr

TANEA Team 5 June 2021 | 11:29

Fabrice Leggeri, the organization’s executive director, denies allegations that Frontex was involved in the illegal pushbacks of migrants in the Greek-Turkish maritime border. Speaking to “NEA Savvatokyriako”, the French official acknowledges, however, that interceptions are taking place, which, he categorically explains, fall within the framework of the rules of procedure of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. At the same time, he talks about the dangerous provocations of the Turkish Coast Guard.

“Allegations of illegal pushbacks of migrants began with videos broadcast by some media outlets. The videos were provided by the Turkish news agency [Anadolu] and by Turkish Coast Guard sources,” stated categorically Leggeri, emphasizing his position on the issue of immigrant and refugee pushbacks at the Greek-Turkish border, for which he and Frontex have been strongly criticized and are the object of investigations

____________________________________________________________________________

The claim that there are no illegal pushbacks of foreigners and, above all, that the relevant allegations are based only or mainly on videos provided by the Turkish news agency and the Turkish Coast Guard are false and defamatory for GHM and the victims of illegal and in fact violent expulsions from Greek territory GHM represents.

As recently as on 4 May 2021, GHM submitted to the Supreme Court Prosecutor’s Office and to other authorities the attached complaint for 147 illegal deportations or pushbacks, documented with material that has almost nothing to do with the Turkish authorities, but comes mainly from material of credible NGOs collaborating with GHM and/or Greek and European media (Attachment 1). The Supreme Court Prosecutor’s Office, on 12 May 2021, sent the complaint to 15 Prosecutors of First Instance around the country (Rhodes, Naxos, Samos, Chios, Mytilene, Thessaloniki, Alexandroupolis, Orestiada, Drama, Thesprotia, Kos, Chania, Rethymno, Heraklio, and Lasithi) who are carrying out preliminary investigations. At the same time, an administrative investigation is carried out by the Ombudsman.

At the same time, GHM submitted to the Supreme Court Prosecutor’s Office and to other authorities on 29 December 2020 the attached complaint by 14 illegally deported from Lesvos (Attachment 2) with authorization to GHM to represent them before Greek and international authorities, which is the subject of a criminal investigation by the Athens Maritime Court Prosecutor’s Office and of an administrative investigation by the Ombudsman.

Also, GHM submitted to the Supreme Court Prosecutor’s Office and to other authorities on 28 February 2021 and 17 May 2021 the attached complaint by 12 illegally deported from Lesvos (Attachment 3) with authorization to GHM to represent them before Greek and international authorities which is the subject of a preliminary investigation by the First Instance Prosecutor’s Office of Mytilene and of an administrative investigation by the Ombudsman.

Finally, GHM submitted to the Supreme Court Prosecutor’s Office and to other authorities on 24 May 2021 the attached compliant by an illegally deported from Thessaloniki via Evros and with the possible direct involvement of Frontex (Attachment 4) with authorization to GHM to represent him before Greek and international authorities, which is the subject of a preliminary investigation by the First Instance Prosecutor’s Office of Thessaloniki and of an administrative investigation by the Ombudsman.

As can be seen from these complaints, which constitute the most extensive referral to Greek justice and to the Greek administration of alleged illegal and racist deportations and pushbacks, these are real and documented both by NGOs and the media and, mainly, by the testimonies of the represented by GHM 27 foreigners from Afghanistan, Congo, Burundi and Morocco who experienced the illegal violence “in their own skin” and that is why they consider and we consider Fabrice Leggeri‘s statements to be false and defamatory, which deeply affect the dignity of these victims and the credibility of GHM while they have a manifestly racist motive since they offend by degrading them the foreigners asylum seekers whom the accused apparently considers either non-existent or liars.

FOR THESE REASONS

I FILE THIS COMPLAINT AGAINST

The aforementioned statements of Fabrice Leggeri that constitute aggravated defamation through the press (of the daily newspaper Ta Nea of ​​5 June 2021) of Panayote Dimitras and of the 27 foreigners represented by him since based on the aforementioned he claimed with intent that the allegations of deportations and pushbacks (most of which have been made by Panayote Dimitras and the 27 foreigners before the Greek justice and the Greek administration) are false instigated by Turkish propaganda, a false fact that can damage the honor or reputation of the accusers, knowing that all his defamatory statements are false.

I declare that, as an individual who has signed the complaints to the Greek justice and to the Greek administration and as a representative of the 27 aliens who have signed the complaints and in which they have authorized me to represent them, I stand in support of the charge of moral damage we suffered from the aforementioned illegal aggravated defamatory behavior of the accused (…)

I enclose copies of the aforementioned 4 attachments

Athens, 11 June 2021

The plaintiff who also stands, individually and as representative of the 27 foreigners whose full details are mentioned in the attached complaints with authorizations, in support of the category

Panayote Dimitras

________________________________


Greek original here

11/06/2021: Μήνυση κατά διευθυντή Frontex Fabrice Leggeri για συκοφαντική δυσφήμηση

ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΟ ΠΑΡΑΤΗΡΗΤΗΡΙΟ ΤΩΝ ΣΥΜΦΩΝΙΩΝ ΤΟΥ ΕΛΣΙΝΚΙ (ΕΠΣΕ)
Τ.Θ. 60820, 15304 Γλυκά Νερά, Tηλ. 2103472259 Fax: 2106018760
e-mail: panayotedimitras@gmail.com
ιστοσελίδα: https://greekhelsinki.wordpress.com

____________________________________________________________________________

ΕΓΚΛΗΣΗ – ΜΗΝΥΣΗ

Παναγιώτη Δημητρά του Ηλία, Εκπροσώπου ΕΤΕΠΕ/ΕΠΣΕ
ατομικά και ως νόμιμου εκπροσώπου 27 παράνομα απελαθέντων αλλοδαπών

ΚΑΤΑ

Του Fabrice Leggeri  (Εκτελεστικού Διευθυντή της Frontex)

για συκοφαντική δυσφήμηση δια του τύπου

Αθήνα, 11 Ιουνίου 2021

Προς τον Εισαγγελέα Πλημμελειοδικών Αθηνών

Ο εδώ εγκαλών Παναγιώτης Δημητράς είμαι 1) ιδρυτικός εκπρόσωπος της Μη Κυβερνητικής Οργάνωσης (ΜΚΟ) Ελληνικό Παρατηρητήριο των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ) από το 1993, 2) μέλος του Διοικητικού Συμβουλίου του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικτύου Εφαρμογής των Αποφάσεων του ΕΔΔΑ (EIN) από το 2018 και 3) μέλος της Γενικής Συνέλευσης της Παγκόσμιας Οργάνωσης Κατά των Βασανιστηρίων (OMCT) από το 2004.

Στόχος του ΕΠΣΕ είναι μεταξύ άλλων και η αναφορά στην ελληνική και διεθνή δικαιοσύνη υποθέσεων που εκτιμάται πως παραβιάζουν τα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα, με έμφαση τα τελευταία χρόνια στην καταπολέμηση του ρατσισμού, λόγω επανειλημμένων αυστηρών συστάσεων των οργάνων του ΟΗΕ και του Συμβουλίου της Ευρώπης προς την Ελλάδα μετά τη διαπίστωση γενικευμένης ατιμωρησίας των ρατσιστικών εγκλημάτων. Στα πλαίσια αυτά το ΕΠΣΕ λειτουργεί και ένα Παρατηρητήριο Ρατσιστικών Εγκλημάτων (https://racistcrimeswatch.wordpress.com) όπου συγκεντρώνονται όλα τα εκτιμώμενα ως ρατσιστικά εγκλήματα τα οποία στη συνέχεια υποβάλλονται στις Εισαγγελίες Ρατσιστικής Βίας ή στις αρμόδιες υπηρεσίες της ΕΛ.ΑΣ. Επίσης, συνολική παρέμβαση του ΕΠΣΕ σε δύο υποθέσεις αντισημιτικού και αντιτσιγγάνικου λόγου στο ΕΔΔΑ συνέβαλε στην καταδίκη της Βουλγαρίας στις αντίστοιχες προσφυγές με τις οποίες το ΕΔΔΑ αναδιαμόρφωσε τη νομολογία του για την ανάγκη καταδίκης για ρατσιστικό λόγο. Τέλος, το ΕΠΣΕ μετέχει στο δίκτυο φορέων που εκτελούν το 2021 το Πρόγραμμα της ΕΕ για την Παρακολούθηση της Εφαρμογής του Κώδικα Συμπεριφοράς για την Αντιμετώπιση της Παράνομης Ρητορικής Μίσους στο Διαδίκτυο

Στις 5 Ιουνίου 2021, δημοσιεύθηκε στην καθημερινή εφημερίδα «Τα Νέα» το ακόλουθο κείμενο, όπως αναπαράγεται στον ιστότοπό της, από όπου το πληροφορήθηκα:

____________________________________________________________________________

«Πηγές το Anadolu και η τουρκική ακτοφυλακή»
Διευθυντής Frontex: Τουρκική προπαγάνδα τα περί παράνομων επαναπροωθήσεων

Ο εκτελεστικός διευθυντής της Frontex εξηγεί στα «ΝΕΑ» ότι στα ελληνοτουρκικά θαλάσσια σύνορα γίνονται νόμιμες αναχαιτίσεις ενώ αναφέρεται και στις προκλήσεις της τουρκικής ακτοφυλακής

Διευθυντής Frontex: Τουρκική προπαγάνδα τα περί παράνομων επαναπροωθήσεων | tanea.gr

TANEA Team 5 Ιουνίου 2021 | 11:29


Απορρίπτει τους ισχυρισμούς για εμπλοκή της Frontex σε παράνομες επαναπροωθήσεις μεταναστών στα ελληνοτουρκικά θαλάσσια σύνορα ο εκτελεστικός διευθυντής του οργανισμού Φαμπρίς Λεζερί. Μιλώντας στα «ΝΕΑ Σαββατοκύριακο» ο γάλλος αξιωματούχος αναγνωρίζει, πάντως, ότι γίνονται αναχαιτίσεις, οι οποίες, επεξηγεί κατηγορηματικά ότι εμπίπτουν στο πλαίσιο του κανονισμού λειτουργίας του Ευρωπαϊκού Οργανισμού Συνοριοφυλακής και Ακτοφυλακής. Παράλληλα, μιλά για τις επικίνδυνες προκλήσεις της τουρκικής ακτοφυλακής.

«Οι ισχυρισμοί για παράνομες επαναπροωθήσεις μεταναστών ξεκίνησαν από βίντεο που μεταδόθηκαν από ορισμένα μίντια. Τα βίντεο είχαν δοθεί από το τουρκικό πρακτορείο ειδήσεων και πηγές της τουρκικής ακτοφυλακής» λέει κατηγορηματικά ο Λεζερί, δίνοντας εξαρχής τον τόνο της θέσης του για την υπόθεση των pushbacks μεταναστών και προσφύγων στα ελληνοτουρκικά σύνορα, για την οποία ο ίδιος και η Frontex έχουν δεχθεί ισχυρή κριτική και βρίσκονται στο στόχαστρο ερευνών.

____________________________________________________________________________

Ο ισχυρισμός πως δεν γίνονται παράνομες επαναπροωθήσεις αλλοδαπών και, κυρίως, πως οι σχετικοί ισχυρισμοί βασίζονται μόνο ή κυρίως σε βίντεο που έχουν δοθεί από το τουρκικό πρακτορείο ειδήσεων και την τουρκική ακτοφυλακή είναι ψευδείς και συκοφαντικοί για το ΕΠΣΕ και για τα εκπροσωπούμενα από αυτό θύματα παράνομων και μάλιστα βίαιων απελάσεων από το ελληνικό έδαφος.

Μόλις στις 4 Μαΐου 2021, το ΕΠΣΕ υπέβαλε στην Εισαγγελία Αρείου Πάγου και σε άλλες αρχές τη συνημμένη μηνυτήρια αναφορά για 147 παράνομες απελάσεις ή επαναπροωθήσεις, τεκμηριωμένες με υλικό που σχεδόν όλο δεν έχει καμιά σχέση με τις τουρκικές αρχές, αλλά προέρχεται κυρίως από υλικό συνεργαζόμενων με το ΕΠΣΕ έγκυρων ΜΚΟ ή/και ελληνικών και ευρωπαϊκών ΜΜΕ (Σχετικό 1). Η Εισαγγελία Αρείου Πάγου, στις 12 Μαΐου 2021,απέστειλε τη μηνυτήρια αναφορά σε 15 Εισαγγελίες Πρωτοδικών της χώρας (Ρόδου, Νάξου, Σάμου, Χίου, Μυτιλήνης, Θεσσαλονίκης, Αλεξανδρούπολης, Ορεστιάδας, Δράμας, Θεσπρωτίας, Κω, Χανίων, Ρεθύμνου, Ηρακλείου και Λασιθίου) οι οποίες διενεργούν προκαταρκτικές εξετάσεις. Παράλληλα, η αναφορά ερευνάται διοικητικά από το Συνήγορο του Πολίτη.

Παράλληλα, το ΕΠΣΕ υπέβαλε στην Εισαγγελία Αρείου Πάγου και σε άλλες αρχές στις 29 Δεκεμβρίου 2020 τη συνημμένη μηνυτήρια αναφορά 14 παράνομα απελαθέντων από τη Λέσβο (Σχετικό 2) με εξουσιοδότηση στο ΕΠΣΕ για εκπροσώπησή τους ενώπιων ελληνικών και διεθνών αρχών, η οποία αποτελεί αντικείμενο προκαταρκτικής εξέτασης από την Εισαγγελία Ναυτοδικείου Αθηνών και διοικητικής εξέτασης από το Συνήγορο του Πολίτη.

Επίσης, το ΕΠΣΕ υπέβαλε στην Εισαγγελία Αρείου Πάγου και σε άλλες αρχές στις 28 Φεβρουαρίου 2021 και 17 Μαΐου 2021 τη συνημμένη μηνυτήρια αναφορά 12 παράνομα απελαθέντων από τη Λέσβο (Σχετικό 3) με εξουσιοδότηση στο ΕΠΣΕ για εκπροσώπησή τους ενώπιων ελληνικών και διεθνών αρχών, η οποία αποτελεί αντικείμενο προκαταρκτικής εξέτασης από την Εισαγγελία Πρωτοδικών Μυτιλήνης και διοικητικής εξέτασης από το Συνήγορο του Πολίτη.

Τέλος, το ΕΠΣΕ υπέβαλε στην Εισαγγελία Αρείου Πάγου και σε άλλες αρχές στις 24 Μαΐου 2021 τη συνημμένη μηνυτήρια αναφορά παράνομα απελαθέντα από τη Θεσσαλονίκη μέσω Έβρου και με πιθανολογούμενη άμεση εμπλοκή της Frontex (Σχετικό 4) με εξουσιοδότηση στο ΕΠΣΕ για εκπροσώπησή του ενώπιων ελληνικών και διεθνών αρχών, η οποία αποτελεί αντικείμενο προκαταρκτικής εξέτασης από την Εισαγγελία Πρωτοδικών Θεσσαλονίκης και διοικητικής εξέτασης από το Συνήγορο του Πολίτη.

Όπως φαίνεται από τις μηνύσεις αυτές, που αποτελούν την εκτενέστερη αναφορά στην ελληνική δικαιοσύνη και στην ελληνική διοίκηση καταγγελλόμενων παράνομων και ρατσιστικών απελάσεων και επαναπροωθήσεων, αυτές είναι υπαρκτές και τεκμηριώνονται τόσο με στοιχεία ΜΚΟ και ΜΜΕ όσο και, κυρίως, με τις μαρτυρίες των εκπροσωπούμενων από το ΕΠΣΕ 27 αλλοδαπών από το Αφγανιστάν, το Κογκό, το Μπουρούντι και το Μαρόκο που έζησαν την παράνομη βία «στο πετσί τους» και για αυτό θεωρούν και θεωρούμε τις δηλώσεις του Fabrice Leggeri ψευδείς και συκοφαντικές που πλήττουν βαθύτατα την αξιοπρέπεια των θυμάτων αυτών και το κύρος του ΕΠΣΕ ενώ έχουν προδήλως ρατσιστικό κίνητρο αφού προσβάλλουν ευτελίζοντας τους αλλοδαπούς αιτούντες άσυλο τους οποίους προφανώς θεωρεί ο εγκαλούμενος είτε ανύπαρκτους είτε ψεύτες.  

ΓΙΑ ΤΟΥΣ ΛΟΓΟΥΣ ΑΥΤΟΥΣ

ΕΓΚΑΛΩ ΚΑΙ ΜΗΝΥΩ ΕΝΩΠΙΟΝ ΣΑΣ

Τις προαναφερθείσες δηλώσεις του Fabrice Leggeri που αποτελούν συκοφαντική δυσφήμηση δια του τύπου (της καθημερινής εφημερίδας Τα Νέα της 5 Ιουνίου 2021) σε βάρος του Παναγιώτη Δημητρά και των εκπροσωπούμενων από αυτών 27 αλλοδαπών αφού με βάση τα προαναφερθέντα με δόλο ισχυρίστηκε πως οι καταγγελίες για απελάσεις και επαναπροωθήσεις (τις περισσότερες από τις οποίες  έχουν κάνει ο Παναγιώτης Δημητράς και οι 27 αλλοδαποί ενώπιον της δικαιοσύνης και της διοίκησης) είναι ψεύδη υποκινούμενα από την τουρκική προπαγάνδα, ψευδές γεγονός που μπορεί να βλάψει την τιμή ή την υπόληψή των εγκαλούντων, γνωρίζοντας πως όσα συκοφαντικά ανέφερε είναι ψευδή.

Δηλώνω ότι, ατομικά ως έχων υπογράψει τις αναφορές στη δικαιοσύνη και στη διοίκηση και ως εκπρόσωπος των 27 αλλοδαπών που έχουν υπογράψει τις αναφορές και σε αυτές με έχουν εξουσιοδοτήσει να τους εκπροσωπώ, παρίσταμαι για την υποστήριξη της κατηγορίας για την ηθική βλάβη που υπέστημεν από την προαναφερόμενη παράνομη συκοφαντική συμπεριφορά του εγκαλουμένου (…)

Επισυνάπτω αντίγραφα των αναφερομένων 4 σχετικών κειμένων.

Αθήνα, 11 Ιουνίου 2021

Ο εγκαλών και παριστάμενος, ατομικά και ως εκπρόσωπος των 27 αλλοδαπών τα πλήρη στοιχεία των οποίων αναφέρονται στις επισυναπτόμενες αναφορές με εξουσιοδοτήσεις, για την υποστήριξη της κατηγορίας

Παναγιώτης Δημητράς

______________________________________

English translation here

Δικάζοντας και καταδικάζοντας για ομοερωτοφοβία τον Κώστα Πλεύρη

Χρήστος Γραμματίδης – Ευαγγελία Βλάμη

Vasilis Sotiropoulos: Με πολλή συγκίνηση δικάσαμε σήμερα, 10 Ιουνίου 2021, αν και περιμέναμε ότι θα απεργούσαν οι γραμματείς των δικαστηρίων, μια αγωγή που είχε συντάξει ο πολυαγαπημένος μας Χρήστος Γραμματίδης, για ένα δημοσίευμα του Κ. Πλεύρη στην εφημερίδα “Ελεύθερος Κόσμος”. Ήταν η συνέχεια του ποινικού σκέλους, μιας δίκης που είχαμε κάνει μαζί με τον Χρήστο και την Electra Leda Koutra το 2011 και είχε οδηγήσει σε πρωτοβάθμια καταδίκη πολλών μηνών, για δημοσίευμα με τίτλο “η ομοφυλοφιλία είναι διαστροφή” (δεν θέλω να μεταφέρω το περιεχόμενο του δημοσιεύματος που είναι άκρως κακοποιητικό). Πριν δικαστεί όμως τότε ο β’ βαθμός, η υπόθεση αποσύρθηκε με νόμο – σκούπα που παρέγραψε “αυτόματα” τα αδικήματα που τιμωρούνται με ποινή μέχρι ενός έτους φυλάκισης. Έτσι, παρέμεινε εκείνη η πρωτοβάθμια καταδίκη που τυπικά δεν ισχύει, λόγω παραγραφής. Η συγκίνηση δεν αφορούσε μόνο το Χρήστο που έφυγε από την ζωή στις 23 Ιουνίου 2018, αλλά και άλλη μία παράγοντα της δίκης, την Ευαγγελία Βλάμη που ήταν μία εκ των τριών εναγόντων (οι άλλοι δύο είναι η Andrea Gilbert που σήμερα έχει τα γενέθλια της – happy birthday!!!- και ο Γρηγορης Βαλλιανατος). Η Ευαγγελία έφυγε από την ζωή το 2017, αλλά την δίκη συνεχίζει για λογαριασμό της η μόνη της κληρονόμος, στενό συγγενικό της πρόσωπο. Σημαντικός συντελεστής της δίκης είναι βέβαια και ο μάρτυρας Panayote Dimitras, ο οποίος είχε οργανώσει τότε, το 2009, όλη την υπόθεση ως εκπρόσωπος του Ελληνικού Παρατηρητηρίου των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι. Και σήμερα ο Παναγιώτης ήταν παρών και κατέθεσε ως μάρτυρας και στην αστική δίκη, όπως είχε καταθέσει πριν 10 χρόνια και στο ποινικό.

Panayote Dimitras: Να προσθεσουμε πως είχε προηγηθεί καταδίκη του για ανάλογο κείμενο κατά της Andrea Gilbert που επίσης δεν εκδικάστηκε σε δεύτερο βαθμό αλλά πρόσφατα καταδικάστηκε σε αποζημίωση ο Κώστας Πλεύρης και η έφεση κατά της απόφασης αυτής εκδικάστηκε πριν 3 εβδομάδες; Στην ποινικη δική εκτός από το Χρήστο και το Βασίλη δικηγόρος ήταν και ο Vassilis Chirdaris .