EU executive pushes Greece to investigate refoulement reports


A Greek national flag and a European Union flag fly inside a recently opened closed-type migrant camp on the island of Samos, Greece, September 18, 2021. REUTERS / Alkis Konstantinidis / File Photo

October 8 (Reuters) – The European Union executive on Friday urged Greece to open an investigation into reports of refoulements of illegal migrants, while praising Croatia for pledging to open an investigation.

“I have to say that the Croatian government takes this very seriously, it will immediately investigate,” EU Home Commissioner Ylva Johansson told an EU meeting in Luxembourg.

“My discussion with the Greek minister was different, and I made it clear that I will not accept that Greece does not investigate this matter,” she added.

“We have to protect our external borders, but we also have to protect our values, the rule of law and fundamental rights. And it is entirely possible to do it together.”

Johansson met the interior ministers of Croatia and Greece on Thursday, after German media Der Spiegel and ARD documented what they said were Greek and Croatian officials carrying out illegal and sometimes violent pushbacks of migrants. Read more

Reports indicated that German media had video footage of 11 pushbacks by Croatian police in Bosnia and also evidence, including footage, of Greek coast guards forcing migrants back to the Aegean Sea.

Reuters has not independently verified the allegations.

The Migration Ministry in Athens denied reports of refoulements of migrants and said it was operating under international law to protect Greek and European borders.

Under international law, people have the right to seek asylum and it is prohibited to return potential asylum seekers to places where their life or well-being could be in danger.

Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Editing by Benoit Van Overstraeten

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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