A report published by the NGO PRO ASYL this month points to the use of arbitrary detention as part of a practice of systematic push-backs of refugees at Greek land and sea borders. The report alleges blatant and serious violations of international human rights as refugees, mainly from Syria, are denied protection and access to EU territory.  As the report points out, Greece has been accused of human rights violations before:

However, the brutality and the extent of violations found in this report are shocking. Masked Special Forces officers are accused of ill-treating refugees upon apprehension, detaining them arbitrarily without any registration on Greek soil and then deporting them back to Turkey, in breach of international law…..In fact, there are “grey” zones where refugees are detained outside any formal procedure, in practice these refugees don’t exists.” 

 For example, the report describes how refugees were detained incommunicado on Farmakonisi Island – an uninhabited island used by the military – for 1-3 days, before being pushed back and left adrift. The refugees, who included women and children, were reportedly held without access to the outside world and without being officially registered, they were only asked their nationalities. Most alleged ill-treatment.

The PRO ASYL report documents the involvement of the Greek government, the border police and the coastguard in these practices, and raises the question of wider European complicity.

More Information: 


PRO ASYL Press release: (07.11.2013)

Pro-Asyl accuses Greece of systematically pushing back refugees at the Greek-Turkish border (8 November 2013) EU Observer, Greek special forces push back Syrian refugees, NGO says (7 November 2013)