Greece is violating human rights. With our money.

Anjo Kan | Dreamstime.com

Anjo Kan | Dreamstime.com

In the beginning of the month, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Greece violated the European Convention of Human Rights in 2014 over the sinking of a migrant boat.

Eleven asylum seekers, including eight children, lost their lives. The survivors stated that the small boat was towed towards Turkey by the Greek coast guard at a high speed, which caused the sinking.

This is not the only time that Greece has violated human rights, as it continuously perpetuates “pushback” policies, promotes undignified living conditions and raises obstacles when trying to access education.

Key Points:

  • Greece keeps pushing migrant boats out of Greek waters
  • Athens continuously denies it, saying it intercepts boats at sea to protect its borders

Key Points:

  • The Greek government isn’t meeting its obligations to ensure all children are enrolled and attending school, attending to a report by three organizations
  • The children’s access and attendance to school depends on official statuses
  • Government policies such as limiting access to asylum, stopping social support for asylum seekers and refusing to provide food support to all has worsened the living conditions of the families and so affected access to education
  • One of the children interviewed for the report says that the first two years she was in Greece with her family they weren’t officially registered because “there was no space” and living in a tent – “We were told that I will have the right to go to school from the moment we are officially registered”

Key Points:

  • According to the current EU law, refugees that are recognized as such in a Member State are not allowed to apply again for asylum in another MS. This is called an “irregular secondary movement”
  • However, Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees is now processing applications made by refugees granted status in Greece
  • German courts ruled in 2021 that deporting refugees back to Greece was unlawful, since the conditions provided by the Greek government cause a “serious risk of inhumane and degrading treatment” and are likely unable to meet basic needs
  • Close to 50 000 people who were granted refugee protection in Greece have applied for asylum in Germany. 8 000 have been processed so far and 9 out of 10 have been approved

Key Points:

  • Human rights defenders in Greece are facing defamation campaigns and are being treated like criminals, according to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor
  • Migrants are also at a big risk of facing criminal charges 
  • “Solidarity should never be punished, and compassion should never be put on trial,” she also noted”
  •  
Julian Stratenschulte/dpa/picture-alliance

All of these inhumane actions are being carried out with our money. Greece has been granted 3.5 billion euros in the past years for the implementation of migrant and refugee support programmes. For the period 2020-2027, it is being funded in 1 billion. This is European money. Our money.

Although Greece needs the money to deal with the amount of refugees that get to or are already inside its borders, we wonder if it wouldn’t actually be cheaper to welcome refugees, without having to maintain endless refugee camps, a ferocious coast guard, all sorts of security measures and actually emancipating asylum seekers with official statuses towards freedom of movement in the EU, education and jobs; to recognize refugees’ abilities and skills as means of generating wealth and financial autonomy.

Start the New Year with some compassion.
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