Press Release: Greek police launched operations targeting people-on-the-move in Thessaloniki

30 April, 2022

Yesterday, April 29, 2022, the Greek police launched operations targeting people-on-the-move in the city of Thessaloniki. The police are targeting improvised homeless shelters and a food distribution site for vulnerable people with serious protection needs. To our knowledge, between 20:00 and 21.30 EET at least three people that are beneficiaries of Border Violence Monitoring Network member organisations in Thessaloniki were arrested on their way to collect food from a humanitarian distribution site in the city.

We, the Border Violence Monitoring Network, put forward our concerns about the potential repercussions of these operations. We have collated a body of evidence that suggests detention and illegal pushbacks are often a subsequent outcome of police operations, which entail numerous violations of international human rights provisions such as access to asylum, non-refoulement, and the prohibition on collective expulsions.

Similar operations were carried out in predominantly migrant neighbourhoods in central Athens nearly one month ago (March 2022) leading to the arbitrary arrest and detention of over 600 people-on-the-move, many of whom were previously unable to access the asylum system due to the termination of the online skype pre-registration system in November 2021.

Today, there have been reports of people-on-the-move being apprehended by police and put into the back of unmarked red vans across Thessaloniki. This is of concern in terms of a lack of transparency and of endemic police brutality in Greece, and pushbacks as a frequent outcome of such operations. Further, the use of similar unmarked red vans was mentioned in three first-hand testimonies of pushbacks in the Evros region in the last month (see below).

We reiterate that Greek authorities are obliged to act in full respect of European Union law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Immigration detention should be used as a means of last resort and should not be applied to vulnerable persons.

We urge that the Greek state should act in full compliance with the principle of non-refoulement, the European Convention of Human Rights, and other relevant human rights instruments to refer people in need of protection and vulnerable persons apprehended to the competent authorities and to ensure their rights to access asylum.

We remind the Greek state to abide by the recommendations of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances that found that people on the move who are pushed back are at risk of being subjected to enforced disappearances.

Details of these cases can be found in the full press release.

As the above information demonstrates, concerns about fundamental violations of human rights as a direct result of these operations are well-founded on the basis of previous experience. We urge independent human rights monitoring bodies to respond, to ensure that any individuals apprehended as a part of these operations have access to asylum procedures, and are not subject to police violence or treatment that would amount to torture, in line with their fundamental rights.



Press Release: Greece Ordered to Rescue 34 Syrians from Evros River

5th April, 2022

Thirty-four Syrian nationals have been taken to the Greek mainland after surviving for three days on a deserted islet in the Evros/Meriç border river. The European Court of Human Rights obliged Greece to provide the group with shelter, food, medical care and shelter after an urgent appeal was submitted by the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN).

The group, which included six children and a pregnant woman, ran out of food and water before Greek authorities finally came to their aid, despite having been notified of their situation and location days earlier. According to the group, the authorities had been flying drones over the islet but never interacted with the group. Continue reading “Press Release: Greece Ordered to Rescue 34 Syrians from Evros River”

Press Release: ECtHR judgement confirms that the Croatian police are guilty of Madina’s death

19th November 2021

The European Court of Human Rights has confirmed that Croatia illegally expels people. Based on the ruling from the ECHR on the killing of a six-year old Afghan girl during a pushback from Croatia to Serbia, Croatian watchdog NGOs Are You Syrious and Centre for Peace Studies assert that the Croatian Prime Minister Plenković must dismiss the top of the Ministry of the Interior and the police. Madina Hussiny was struck and killed by a train, after being pushed back to Serbia with her family in 2017.

Continue reading “Press Release: ECtHR judgement confirms that the Croatian police are guilty of Madina’s death”

Open Letter in Support of Plaintiff Chain Pushed Back from Slovenia

An appeal to ensure respect of the rule of law in Slovenia

The Supreme Court of Slovenia has found the Slovenian police conduct to be illegal, reminding the state of its obligation to respect the non-refoulement principle – an individual should not be returned to another state without an official assessment if the other state is safe for this individual. Slovenia must enable the plaintiff, an asylum seeker who had been a victim of a chain-push-back, to effectively request asylum in Slovenia.

Addressed to:

Minister Aleš Hojs, Commissioner Ylva Johansson, Honourable member Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar and Ombudsperson Janez Svetina

Continue reading “Open Letter in Support of Plaintiff Chain Pushed Back from Slovenia”

Joint Statement on Croatia’s Independent Border Monitoring Mechanism

In August, BVMN members Are You Syrious and Centre for Peace Studies joined six other organisations in a joint statement on the independent border monitoring mechanism in Croatia. The mechanism, which is intended to provide impartial and thorough oversight over national border operations, has been the topic of much debate given its dubious implementation. The signatories drew attention to these shortcomings and the standards that needed to be met to ensure its effectiveness in the protection of fundamental rights at Croatian borders.

Continue reading “Joint Statement on Croatia’s Independent Border Monitoring Mechanism”