Human Rights Watch reports refoulements in Evros

Returns of asylum seekers with fast-track procedures and occasional use of violence by the Greek authorities were reported on Tuesday, in an announcement issued by the Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The HRW interviewed 26 asylum seekers and migrants from various countries. The interviewees reported incidents of refoulement in Evros and hostile or violent behaviour engaged in by Greek police and unidentified groups wearing masks and unmarked uniforms. In seven cases, the police or members of the unidentified groups reportedly took away the persons’ shoes and clothes and sent them back to Turkey often in freezing temperatures. An Afghan mother of two also told HRW that the Greek authorities withheld her two children’s shoes. In twelve other cases, migrants and asylum seekers said they were robbed of their belongings, including money and personal documents.

The testimonies the HRW collected are part of a series of formal accusations made by NGOs operating in Greece, all of which mention refoulements and fast-track return procedures in Evros.

HRW sent its findings to the head of border guard police in the region, who denied that the Hellenic Police refouls asylum seekers and said that that all legal procedures are observed at the border.

The organisation called on the Greek authorities to investigate the allegations thoroughly and in a transparent manner.