International complaint against Greece’s violent pushbacks at the Evros border.
On 17 Tuesday 2020, GLAN and HumanRights360 filed a complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee on behalf of Fady, a recognised refugee in the EU, who was subject to an enforced disappearance and repeated summary expulsions by Greek authorities between November 2016 and November 2017. Fady was stripped of his possessions, his document attesting to his residency status in the EU and placed outside the protection of the Law. He was placed in a state of precarity and rightlessness for three years until his documents were reissued and he was finally able to return to his home in Germany in November 2019.Fady, 25, arrived in Germany in 2015 from Deir az-Zour, Syria. In November 2016 he traveled to Greece with a German residence permit, which Germany issued to recognise his protected refugee status. He arrived to try to find his then 11-year-old brother, who was unaccompanied and had gone missing while crossing the Evros border, en route to reuniting with Fady and claiming asylum. On 30 November 2016, while looking for his brother at a Greek bus station, Fady was racially profiled and arrested by the Greek police who confiscated his German documentation. Greek authorities arbitrarily detained him incommunicado, without access to legal representation, and proceeded to violently and summarily expel him, in a group of 50 others, to Turkey. This initial expulsion to Turkey was reconstructed in the form of a ‘situated testimony’ by the UK-based investigative group Forensic Architecture. Stranded in Turkey without his documentation, Fady reattempted entry into Greece 14 times over the course of the following year and was subjected to further summary expulsions by Greek authorities, which maintained his exclusion from protection by the Law. In December 2017, he finally made it back into Greece without being pushed back. But he was stranded — undocumented, homeless, and with severe impacts on his health — for a further two years his German travel document was reissued on 30 October 2019. The complaint argues that Greece’s unlawful deprivation of Fady’s liberty amounts to an enforced disappearance under international Law. And it results in further serious violations of basic rights, notably the right to life, the right to liberty, the prohibition against torture, and the right to due process and remedy, as enshrined in the ICCPR. The repeated pushbacks the claimant was subject to are part of a clandestine systematic practice of summary expulsions by Greek authorities, as well as private actors under their direction. In this practice, which has intensified since the violent events at the Evros border in March 2020, refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants are arrested and detained, often following their racial-profiling and discrimination. This practice has been extensively and repeatedly condemned by the UN and European bodies and international civil society for the long-lasting harms it continues to inflict on thousands of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants, depriving them of the right to access asylum and exposing them to ‘chain refoulement’ by Turkey.
HumanRights360, through its legal team, filed an appeal before the European Court of Human Rights on 18.3.2021, representing Mr. Z.I., a beneficiary of subsidiary protection recognized by the German authorities, who in September 2020 complained that he was arrested by the police authorities in Thessaloniki and taken to Evros where he was illegally and forcibly pushed back to Turkey. With the legal assistance of Human Rights 360, he appealed to the ECHR for violation of Articles 2(1) (the right to life), 3 (prohibition of torture), 5 (the right to liberty and security of person), 13 (right to effective remedy) of the ECHR and Article 4 of the Fourth Protocol to the ECHR (prohibition of collective expulsions).