December 20, 2012
The treatment of migrants and asylum seekers in Greece makes a “mockery” of the Nobel Peace Prize award to the European Union, Amnesty International said on Thursday.
Most European countries have taken the right step in stopping the return of asylum seekers to Greece until the country reforms its asylum system. However, they must share responsibility for processing asylum applications and supporting asylum seekers more equally among member states,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.
“The current situation in Greece is totally unworthy of the Nobel Peace Prize winning European Union and so far below international human rights standards as to make a mockery of them. Greece needs help but it must also accept its own responsibilities.”
AI detailed the failure of Greece to process asylum applications properly, taking on just 20 cases each week, and to confront incidents of racism.
“Greece’s failure to respect the rights of migrants and asylum-seekers is taking on the proportions of a humanitarian crisis,” said Dalhuisen.
“Against a backdrop of sustained migratory pressure, profound economic crisis and rising xenophobic sentiment, Greece is proving itself incapable of providing even the most basic requirements of safety and shelter to the thousands of asylum seekers and migrants arriving each year.”
AI said that recent police sweep operations had led to asylum seekers, including unaccompanied minors, being detained in overcrowded and unhygienic conditions.
“The Greek authorities must ensure that immigration-related detention is used only as a last resort and that they prohibit the detention of unaccompanied children in law and end it in practice,” said Dalhuisen.
The organization said that in some cases, Greek authorities were also pushing back migrants crossing from Turkey, including by puncturing a rubber dinghy they were sailing in.