It is a harsh worded report, entitled “Greece: Pushbacks and violence against refugees and migrants are de facto border policy”.

Amnesty International (AI) has published a new research, according to which Greek authorities “brutally apprehend and detain people who are seeking safety in Greece, subjecting many to violence.”

The report is based on conversations with 16 people, who claim to have experienced 21 pushbacks, between June and December 2020. Based on their testimonies, Amnesty International estimates that the “unlawful operations haven affected around 1000 people”.

AI says that “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”. The mostly take place in border areas (Evros in particular) but AI says “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 adds that “Frontex has the duty to prevent human rights violations, if they cannot do this effectively, they should withdraw or suspend operations in Greece”.

The Greek government has repeatedly denied accusations of illegal pushbacks policy, calling them “fake news”.

In a letter to Dunja Mijatovic, Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner, (in May 2021) three Greek Ministers, Notis Mitarakis, Migration minister, Michalis Chrisochoidis Minister for Citizen Protection and Ioannis Plakiotakis Minister of Maritime Affairs, note that “The actions of the Greek authorities are in full compliance with the international obligations of the country” and that “contrary to these accusations, we must emphasize the humanitarian commitment of the Greek authorities that have rescued thousands of migrants since 2015. This is a fact that can not be ignored and was made possible thanks to the continuous efforts of the Greek authorities, supported by FRONTEX and operating very often in a very complex and unstable environment.”