European Union (EU) Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson has urged Greece to investigate the illegal return of asylum seekers.
“Speaking to the media before the meeting of the interior ministers of the EU member states in Luxembourg, Johansson said that he expects Greece to take this issue seriously, to investigate and find out what really happened.”
A day earlier, Johansson discussed with Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi and Croatian Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic the illegal returns presented this week in a joint investigation by several media outlets.
Reports provided evidence that Greek and Croatian authorities had forcibly turned back asylum seekers crossing the European bloc’s external borders.
Johansson called her discussions with the two ministers “very difficult.”
She called Minister Bozinovic’s response an “appropriate response”, explaining that the Croatian government promised an immediate investigation and monitoring mechanism to guarantee fundamental rights.
“My discussions with the Greek minister were different. I was clear that I would not accept Greece’s failure to investigate this matter. “We have to protect our external borders, but we also have to protect our values, the rule of law and fundamental rights,” said Johansson.
In a written statement, Minister Mitarachi said Greece is investigating any allegations of ill-treatment of asylum seekers by the country’s national authorities.
The 1-month joint investigation revealed that operations to return asylum seekers by security forces have become systematic practices in violation of EU and international humanitarian law.
Greek weekly ‘Der Spiegel’ published videos showing Greek officers disguised capturing and mutilating refugee boats in the Aegean Sea, endangering the lives of vulnerable asylum seekers.
The investigation also documented illegal practices of returning asylum seekers by Croatian and Romanian special police units.AA
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