Greece: GISTI report on Greek hotspots in Lesbos and Chios after the EU/Turkey deal

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On 25 July 2016, GISTI published a report on its fact-finding mission to the hotspots set up on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios and on the effects the EU/Turkey deal, entitled "Accord UE-Turquie: la grande imposture. Rapport de mission dans les hotspots grecs de Lesbos et Chios, juillet 2016".

This a translation of the statement issued to present the report (original in French), available at: which is available (in French) at:

"EU-Turkey agreement: the great deceit
Mission report from the Greek "hotspots" in Lesbos and Chios

Since 20 March 2016, the date when the agreement on migration reached between the EU and Turkey came into force, thousands of people who need protection have been abandoned in the open-air prisons which the Greek islands of Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Leros and Kos have become.

Following a mission carried out in two of them, Lesbos and Chios, from 22 to 30 May 2016, Gisti does not just highlight the undignified living standards (accommodation, nourishment, access to medical care) which the people detained on the islands are subjected to, but also the administrative and judicial treatment which, under several aspects, contravene the rights which they should be recognised in application of texts which are binding for the European Union and its member states.

The mission's findings show that rights are disregarded in an almost systematic fashion, entailing a serious breach of procedural guarantees which, if they were respected, would make the goals of the EU-Turkey agreement inapplicable and ineffective, that is, the refoulement of people in need of protection by a country which has signed the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees. In Lesbos, these violations of the right to asylum worsened by several other denials of rights, including the arbitrary detention of minors.

The Greek administration may be deemed directly responsible for the observed breaches, as it is the main party responsible for the management of the reception of migrants and asylum seekers on its territory. However, as a result of the combination of a range of circumstances - Greece's economic difficulties, the Mediterranean migration context, the effects of European immigration and asylum policies which have been in force for more than fifteen years and, finally, the EU-Turkey agreement of 18 March 2016 -, it is the EU member states and the Union itself which are primarily responsible for the ill-treatment and violation of their rights suffered by migrants detained in the Greek "hotspots".

The presence of European agencies (Frontex, Europol, European Asylum Office) inside the hotspots merely underlines this responsibility. It is particularly evident regarding the European Asylum Office (EASO), which is closely involved in the process to examine asylum applications and consequently of the dysfunctions which are described in the report.

The new Turkish context, which arose following the aborted coup attempt on 15 July, makes the EU member states' position even more untenable. Facing a regime whose authoritarianism has been strengthened, they will have to stagger between condemnation of the growing threats to freedom and human rights in Turkey and keeping a useful partner: it is a dangerous game from which it is difficult to know who will end up winning, but from which it is reasonable to fear that migrants, the hostages of European selfishness, will once again be the victims.

The facts speak for themselves: in order to put an end to the serious violations of the rights of migrants detained in the Greek "hotspots" under threat of an expulsion to Turkey, it is indispensable for the EU and its member states to, at the very least:

Give up on the idea of implementing the 18 March 2016 Statement;

Conduct an in-depth review of the system for allocating responsibility to an EU member state (the "Dublin III" regulation) to evaluate an asylum application in order for the asylum application to be examined in the applicant's country of choice."

25 July 2016

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