Intervention of 28 organisations to competent Prosecutors on the pushback incident published by the New York Times

27.07.23

Athens, 27 July 2023:

In a joint submission to the Prosecutors of the Piraeus Naval Court, the First Instance Court of Mytilene and the Supreme Court Prosecutor, 28 civil society organisations are calling for an effective investigation into potential criminal acts committed in relation to what was published on 19 May 2023 by the New York Times (NYT).

In mid-May the NYT published video footage of an alleged pushback from the island of Lesvos, which allegedly took place in the midday hours of 11 April 2023.[1] Amongst others, the publication had provoked the reaction of the European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, Ms. Ylva Johansson, who had called on the Greek authorities to conduct a full and independent investigation into the reported incident, while the Greek Prime Minister, in an interview to CNN, had committed to investigating the incident, describing it as an "completely unacceptable practice"[2].

However, apart from referring the case to the National Transparency Authority,[3] an authority that has been repeatedly criticised for its ineffectiveness in investigating similar incidents,[4] no other investigation into the incident has been made public.

To this day, despite the significant number of reliable and consistent reports on alleged pushbacks at the Greece’s borders, which have been systematically reported in recent years by UN and EU bodies, and more recently by the Recording Mechanism of Informal Forced Returns, which has been established and operates within the framework of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR),[5] no known case has been examined beyond the preliminary stage by the Greek judiciary or effectively investigated.[6]

The lack of an effective investigation by the Greek judiciary was one of the reasons for which the European Court of Human Rights found a violation from the side of the Greek Authorities, in the landmark ruling issued last year on the Farmakonisi shipwreck case.

The joint submission (Greek), alongside the list of signatory organisations is available here

 


[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/19/world/europe/greece-migrants-abandoned.html

[2] https://www.primeminister.gr/en/2023/05/23/31878

[3] https://www.kathimerini.gr/society/562438798/metanasteytiko-ereyna-apo-tin-ethniki-archi-diafaneias-gia-to-vinteo-apo-ti-lesvo/

[4] https://rsaegean.org/el/michanismoi-dierevnisis/

[5] The NCHR constitutes the independent consultative body of the Greek state on matters of protection and promotion of human rights as per L. 4780/2021.

[6] https://www.gcr.gr/media/k2/attachments/GCR_HLHR_letter_final.pdf

 

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