Greece: Reported illegal returns of Syrian refugees to Turkey ‘dangerous’

If these refugees were sent to Turkey without due consideration of their asylum claim, this is undoubtedly a case of refoulement

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

MEDIA ADVISORY

Greece: Reported illegal returns of Syrian refugees to Turkey ‘dangerous’

21 October 2016

Spokespeople available for interview

Greece’s return of 10 Syrian refugees to Turkey, reportedly without considering their asylum claims, is an irresponsible move that shows a callous disregard for their safety, Amnesty International said.

According to information received by Amnesty International, the group included six adults including two parents who were travelling with their four children aged between one and six. The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said their claims to asylum were not considered, which would make the returns illegal.

“If these refugees were sent to Turkey without due consideration of their asylum claim, this is undoubtedly a case of refoulement. This is a deplorable breach of Greece’s international obligations which has shown callous disregard for the group’s safety,” said Giorgos Kosmopoulos, Amnesty International’s researcher on migrant rights in Europe.

“Heads of state meeting in Brussels are clearly putting Greece under enormous pressure to speed up returns to Turkey, but legal obligations to allow refugees and asylum-seekers to have their asylum claims fully and individually considered cannot be ignored.”

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Alison Abrahams on +32 486 042 047 or +32 2 548 27 73 or via [email protected]

Background

– According to the UNHCR, a group of 91 people arrived on the island of Milos on 14 October. The group was subsequently transferred to a Reception and Identification Centre on the island of Leros, where they formally expressed to the responsible authorities their intention to seek asylum in Greece. Among the group were 10 Syrian nationals, who were transferred to Kos and subsequently readmitted by plane to Adana, Turkey, without due consideration of their asylum claims and without the appropriate procedural guarantees. UNHCR has sought clarification with the Greek authorities about the incident.

– A lawyer in the island of Leros told Amnesty International that he was refused access to the group. On 19 October he went to the Agia Marina police station and requested information about the reasons for, and the aim of, the detention and requested to see the group detained there. Police told him they had oral orders to transfer the group to the island of Kos and refused him access and information.

– According to the Greek police, on 20 October, 14 Syrian nationals were returned from the island of Kos to Adana, Turkey under the provisions of the EU–Turkey statement. The police said that ten of them did not express a will to apply for asylum and four withdrew their asylum applications.

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