27 August 2020
Greece has come in for sharp criticism for its continued puhsbacks of migrants and refugees, in flagrant violation of European and international human rights law. However, its practices are the result of a continent-wide migration policy that seeks to pass the buck when it comes to providing protection to people in need, argues Daniel Trilling.
Greece has a deadly new migration policy – and all of Europe is to blame (The Guardian, link, emphasis added):
"...if every country looks only to its own interests, and behaves as if asylum seekers are someone else’s problem, then you very quickly end up with a system that traps people in situations where their lives are at risk. That is the system bequeathed by Europe’s panicked response to the 2015 refugee crisis, and in recent months, partly under cover of the emergency conditions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, it has got worse."
Trilling points out that Greece has been used as a "buffer zone" by the rest of the EU against unwanted migration, with increasingly desparate policies including the deportation of people via the use of life rafts, the establishment of a secret detention centre near the Turkish border, and the deployment of troops at the border. Italy and Malta have long since sought to limit rescues at sea and prevent the arrival of people saved in the Mediterranean, while the EU has actively cooperated with the Libyan Coast Guard to ensure 'pullbacks' to a country where torture and ill-treatment of migrants is rife.
"It would be easy to place the blame for these situations squarely on the shoulders of countries at the EU’s Mediterranean frontier. But they are acting in a way that most European governments see as beneficial... This includes the UK, which makes use of those buffer zones regardless of Brexit: as coronavirus spread through Europe, the Home Office refused to resettle refugee children trapped in Greece – children who had relatives in the UK and the legal right to join them – only doing so belatedly under pressure from campaigners.
It would be easy to dismiss what happens at other countries’ borders as a matter for them alone, but the pattern is international, and the erosion of rights it represents should concern us all. When states opt for extreme measures to push refugees away from their territory, it threatens to undermine the entire system that exists to protect them."
Spotted an error? If you've spotted a problem with this page, just click once to let us know.
Statewatch does not have a corporate view, nor does it seek to create one, the views expressed are those of the author. Statewatch is not responsible for the content of external websites and inclusion of a link does not constitute an endorsement. Registered UK charity number: 1154784. Registered UK company number: 08480724. Registered company name: The Libertarian Research & Education Trust. Registered office: 10 Queen Street Place, London EC4R 1BE. © Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X. Personal usage as private individuals "fair dealing" is allowed. We also welcome links to material on our site. Usage by those working for organisations is allowed only if the organisation holds an appropriate licence from the relevant reprographic rights organisation (eg: Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK) with such usage being subject to the terms and conditions of that licence and to local copyright law.