The Council of Europe returned a draft law to Greece that provided for the deportation of denied asylum seekers, noting that it should be brought in line with European human rights law.
The Council of Europe also called on the Greek government not to hinder the work of NGOs, and the parliament to revise the elements of the bill.
Council of Europe Statement on Greece
“The Greek Parliament must reconsider a legislative proposal currently under discussion that would seriously impede the rescue work carried out at sea by non-governmental organizations and their ability to monitor human rights in the Aegean Sea,” said Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic.
Article 40 of the Law on Deportation and Repatriation imposes restrictions and conditions on the activities of civil society organizations in the areas of competence of the Greek Coast Guard, and non-compliance with them entails serious sanctions and fines. As emphasized in letterThe Commissioner appealed to the Greek authorities last May that civil society organizations play an important role in protecting the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, who play an important role in reporting and documenting denials or other human rights violations. It is therefore concerned about this provision, which could further jeopardize the human rights activities of NGOs in relation to those arriving by sea and seriously undermine the necessary verification of the compliance of Greek Coast Guard operations with human rights standards.
The Commissioner particularly regrets that this provision was added to the draft law on deportation and repatriation after the closure of the public consultation period, so that neither the victims in the first place nor the NHRIs had an opportunity to comment. She calls on Greek lawmakers to lift the restrictions under article 40 of the Law on Deportation and Repatriation and to recognize the human rights activities of NGOs saving lives at sea, in line with their status as human rights defenders.
According to her Recommendation 2019 and follow-up report March 2021, the Commissioner calls on all Council of Europe member states, including Greece, to cooperate constructively with NGOs to ensure the protection of the lives and rights of people at risk at sea, and to create an enabling environment for human rights organizations. They should refrain from harassing human rights defenders or obstructing their work by legislative, judicial or administrative means.
In addition to restrictions on NGOs, the Commissioner also takes note of the fact that the deportation and return bill has raised serious concerns among the human rights community regarding its impact on, for example, the right to asylum, prevention of refoulement, remedies, guarantees in deportation procedures and the prevention of automatic large-scale detention. “I am disappointed to learn that the comments and recommendations of national human rights structures and expert NGOs regarding the lack of sufficient human rights guarantees were not taken into account by the Greek authorities. I urge Members of Parliament to take advantage of these recommendations to ensure that the draft law, once adopted, fully reflects Greece’s obligations, including under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Refugee Convention. ”
A source: Council of Europe
From the editor:
It is noteworthy that in the letter of the European Commissioner not a word mentions the facts violation of laws Greece by the aforementioned NGOs and the facts espionage, forgery and direct participation of NGO members in transporting illegal migrants across the Greek-Turkish border, of course, for a solid fee…
In addition, Greek law enforcement agencies and special services recorded the participation of NGOs in assistance and advice on how to forge documents, how to impersonate refugees and other “useful advice” aimed at deceiving the authorities.
Such a reaction from the control bodies of the European Union causes a natural interest, whether in this case there is pressure on an official or a corruption component from some NGOs, which, due to restrictions imposed by the Greek authorities, have lost part of their income from illegal migration.