Rights group seeks in­quiry on push­backs

Call for Greek Par­lia­ment to probe claims of col­lec­tive ex­pul­sions in Aegean

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Hu­man Rights Watch( HRW) yes­ter­day called on the Greek Par­lia­ment to launch an in­quiry into claims of col­lec­tive ex­pul­sions of un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants by mem­bers of the Hel­lenic Coast Guard fol­low­ing an in­ci­dent in the Aegean last week that re­sulted in 12 im­mi­grants be­ing lost at sea.

The bod­ies of two of the mi­grants have been re­cov­ered while the other 10, all women and chil­dren, re­main miss­ing.

“De­spite gov­ern­ment de­nials, we’ve heard many ac­counts of push­backs that put mi­grants’ lives at risk,” said Eva Cosse, the in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Greece spe­cial­ist.

HRW’s call fol­lowed a string of ap­peals by other sim­i­lar or­ga­ni­za­tions in­clud­ing Amnesty In­terna- tional and by the Euro­pean Coun­cil’s Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sioner Nils Muiznieks for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into claims that Hel­lenic Coast Guard of­fi­cers abused im­mi­grants.

On Wed­nes­day coast guard of­fi­cers told Par­lia­ment they had “done all they could” to save the lives of mi­grants on the boat off Far­makon­isi. Mer­chant Ma­rine Min­is­ter Mil­tiadis Varvit­si­o­tis said coast guard of­fi­cers have or­ders to “guard the coun­try’s sea bor­ders and save the lives of those at risk,” not to forcibly ex­pel would-be mi­grants.

More than 45 peo­ple who oc­cu­pied Varvit­si­o­tis’s of­fice in cen­tral Athens yes­ter­day, in protest at the Far­makon­isi in­ci­dent, were de­tained by po­lice. One was charged with re­sist­ing ar­rest and swear­ing at po­lice­men.

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