Greek forces, in violation of international immigration law, pushed back a total of 41,523 asylum seekers between 2020 and May 31, 2022, according to Türkiye's Ombudsman Institution.

Ninety-eight percent of the pushbacks involved torture and ill-treatment, the report.
Ninety-eight percent of the pushbacks involved torture and ill-treatment, the report. (AA Archive)

Greece has pushed back nearly 42,000 asylum seekers since 2020, according to a new report published by Türkiye's Ombudsman Institution.

"The pushbacks in themselves are against international law, and many of the pushback practices are accompanied by grave rights violations," said the report on Friday. 

The report titled "Pushbacks and Drowning Human Rights in the Aegean Sea" exposed the violation of international immigration law by Greece.

According to the data from the Directorate of Migration Management that the report used, Greek forces pushed back a total of 41,523 asylum seekers between 2020 and May 31, 2022.

Noting that 98 percent of the pushbacks involved torture and ill-treatment, it said 88 percent of the 8,000 asylum seekers who came to the Greek border were beaten.

It added that 97 percent of them suffered theft, five percent sexual assault, and eight percent electric shock, while 49 percent were forced to undress and 16 percent drowned.

Of the children among them, 68 percent were exposed to or witnessed violence and abuse, stressed the report.

READ MORE: Greece’s deadly pushback tactics, explained

Tip of the iceberg

As a result of these practices in land pushbacks, 53 asylum seekers died last year, including 33 who froze to death and drowned in the Meric River, which forms the border between Greece and Türkiye.

The report also revealed that in Greece's pushback practices at sea, asylum seekers were thrown overboard, sometimes with their hands cuffed behind their backs and sometimes without life jackets.

This led to the deaths of eight irregular migrants last year, along with three in 2022 as of May 31.

READ MORE: I can’t swim’: Last words of migrant pushed into sea by Greek Coast Guard

These numbers are merely the tip of the iceberg, since authorities prevented asylum seekers from seeking their rights, accessing complaint mechanisms, and reporting violations, it said.

"It has been demonstrated by concrete evidence that Frontex (EU Border and Coast Guard Agency) participated in these actions by Greece, supported many actions, and condoned many of them," it added.

Illegal practice

Türkiye and human rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece's illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.

Türkiye has been a key transit point for asylum seekers aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

READ MORE: Turkish rescuers save over a dozen asylum seekers pushed back by Greece 

Source: AA