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European body asks Greece to reform detention system21 November 2020

Migrants and asylum seekers were pushed back and subject to ill-treatment by authorities

The conditions in which migrants are held in Greece’s detention facilities are inhumane and degrading, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) said in a report Thursday.

After a visit by officials of the committee to the country’s facilities from March 13-17 this year, it was found in these facilities, specifically in the Evros region and on the island of Samos, that conditions were inhumane.

Despite Greece facing significant challenges having to deal with large numbers of migrants, the committee noted that "this cannot absolve the Greek State from their human rights obligations and the duty of care owed to all migrants that the Greek authorities detain.”

According to the report, migrants were being held in overcrowded detention centers with no access to personal hygiene, broken toilets and washrooms, poor lightning or ventilation, and no access to outdoor daily exercise.

Conditions for migrants with children or unaccompanied children and vulnerable people either with disabilities or mental health issues and pregnant women were also degrading.

In addition, several allegations have also been reported by the CPT on the ill-treatment of detained migrants by the police or coast guard.

“The CPT’s delegation received […] a number of allegations by migrants that they had been subjected to slaps to the head and kicks and truncheon blows to the body by members of the Hellenic Police and Coast Guard. In a few cases, those allegations were supported by medical evidence,” the report said

The CPT has called on Greek officials to end the ill-treatment of migrants and to transfer unaccompanied children to reception facilities.

Despite the Greek government denying the illegal pushback of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers trying to reach its shores, evidence received by the CPT showed migrants being pushed back across the Evros River border with Turkey.

Human Rights Watch, a global human rights watchdog, also reported Thursday about thousands of migrants trying to reach Greek shores being secretly pushed back by the Hellenic Coast Guard.

Evidence collected by the watchdog showed that the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) is aware of these acts.

Concerns over the agency’s involvement have prompted the management board to call an investigation, despite several media outlets saying that Frontex was actually involved in the pushbacks, Eva Cosse, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, told Anadolu Agency.

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