15 Jul 2021

Greek NHRI sheds light on the situation of migrants at its borders and challenges of NGOs assisting refugees

Last year, the Greek National Commission for Human Rights (GNCHR) conducted monitoring activities at the borders, convened several meetings with relevant national and international stakeholders to address the critical situation faced by asylum seekers and migrants and advised the Greek government and Parliament on all amendments of laws on international protection. It also provided its expert opinion on national reports submitted before UN bodies for periodical review, took initiatives to fill protection gaps and harmonise national law and practice with international standards and made public interventions in cases of immediate endangerment of migrants’ rights. The following report outlines key findings from the monitoring visits carried out by the GNCHR in 2020. 

Under the umbrella of ENNHRI‘s project on promoting and protecting migrants’ rights at borders, the Greek NHRI (Greek National Commission for Human Rights, GNCHR) has issued a national report covering its activities on the protection of migrants’ rights at borders in 2020, taking into consideration all major developments such as the entry into force of a new legal regime on international protection, tensions occurred at the Greek-Turkish land border, and the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Among the main findings of the report: 

  • Following allegations of individual and group pushbacks happening at the Greek-Turkish borders, as well as of the use of life-threatening methods in the course of deterrence operations at sea, the GNCHR has recommended the Greek authorities to establish an independent mechanism for recording and monitoring informal pushbacks complaints. 
  • During monitoring visits at the Asylum Service and the Regional Asylum Office of Attica, the GNCHR raised some concerns on the common practice of notifying decisions on asylum applications to third parties, instead of the applicants themselves. This practice effectively hinders the possibility of appealing the decision. 
  • During the on-site visit carried out at the Reception and Identification Centre of Vathy and the surrounding makeshift camp, the GNCHR delegation concluded that the reception system had collapsed. Migrants and refugees, as well as unaccompanied minors, are obliged to live in severely overcrowded dwellings, often in undignified conditions, at risk of being involved in violent confrontations among rival communities, rapes and sexual assaults, incidents of domestic violence and human trafficking.  
  • Overall, the GNCHR observed major gaps in the provision of adequate mental health and psychosocial support to migrants. The NHRI also highlighted irregularities in the process of identifying alleged victims of torture and/or other serious forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence or exploitation. 
  • Finally, the GNCHR shed light on the many challenges faced by NGOs providing services to migrants, from the obligation to be registered in a special Registry, to being subjected to threats and attacks.  

For more information, please contact Gabriel Almeida from the ENNHRI Secretariat.  

» Download the report
» Download the executive summary 
» Download the factsheet

» Learn more about the project “Monitoring, reporting and protecting migrants’ rights at borders” 

» Learn more about ENNHRI’s work on asylum and migration