Greek NGOs denounce inaction over illegal migrant pushbacks

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Six rights groups on Monday denounced what they said was the lack of an effective investigation of reports that Greece is illegally pushing migrants back over the border into Turkey.

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Their statement came a day after Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi denounced previous such claims as “fake news”.

The Hellenic League for Human Rights and five other rights groups stressed that the alleged pushbacks -- which have been reported since March 2020 -- were not just illegal but were endangering the lives of migrants.

Deploring the lack of “an efficient investigation” by either the country’s justice system or any independent authority, they said they had sent a detailed report to the UN Special Rapporteur on February 1.

On Sunday, Mitarachi dismissed past claims of illegal pushbacks to a misinformation campaign orchestrated by Turkey, in comments to To Vima weekly.

“Investigations until now by (EU border agency) Frontex and the (Greek) coastguard have not confirmed any of the claims,” he said.

But the six rights groups said the reported incidents “concern practices that even put in danger human lives, in addition to the inhumane treatment of people entitled to international protection”.

After the illegal pushbacks, migrants “are then found helpless in rafts, near the Turkish coasts at the absolute risk of their own lives”, they said.

The signatories included the Greek League for Human Rights and the Hellenic Council for Refugees.

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