A new study provides fresh evidence for allegations that Italy continues to push migrants and refugees into Greece illegally and in inhumane conditions.
The report, produced as a result of journalistic research by the Netherlands-based NGO Lighthouse, revealed that Italian asylum seekers were held in “secret prisons” on merchant ships and illegally returned to Greece.
The report highlights evidence obtained by various media that while passengers were sipping their drinks on the deck of cruise ships, those who came to Italy from Greece seeking asylum in the lower parts of the ship were locked up by the Italian authorities in small, dark rooms. , and sometimes they were given only water without food, chained to metal racks or tubes.
SRF, ARD Monitor, Al Domani and Solomon are among the media organizations that have provided videos, photos and witness statements they obtained regarding the allegations to Lighthouse for reporting.
Sarah Creta, one of the journalists on the research team, shared photos and images that are evidence of the circumstances of the report in her social media post.
Among them are children
It was indicated in the report that minor children and youth were among asylum seekers who had to travel for more than one day in some cases under conditions referred to as “unofficial prisons”.
According to the report, those affected by this situation in the past year are mostly refugees from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.
Data provided by the Greek authorities shows that at least 157 people have been returned to Greece from Italy in this way in the past two years, while in 2020 more than 70 people are believed to suffer the same fate. But immigration experts believe not all cases are documented.
They are denied their right to seek asylum
One of the highlights of the report is that asylum seekers are unlawfully denied the opportunity to seek asylum at the EU borders.
“People who risk their lives by taking ferries to Venice, Ancona, Bari and Brindisi on the Italian Adriatic in the hope of seeking asylum are denied this opportunity,” the report said.
In assessing the report submitted to Agence France-Presse, Dana Schmalz, senior research fellow in refugee law at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, stated that the research showed that migrants were “manifestly inhumanely accommodated” on board ships, and that this situation “It imposes both EU law and the European Convention on Human Rights.” Stressed that it violates the requirements
Readmission agreement between Italy and Greece
The issue of the illegal return of asylum seekers first came to the fore in 1999, when an agreement was signed between Italy and Greece on the “re-admission” of migrants.
The agreement legally allows Italy to return illegal immigrants from Greece, but according to the principles of the agreement, asylum seekers must be excluded. Italy’s repeated violations of this clause led to a lawsuit being brought against it in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) nearly ten years ago.
In 2014, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the method of returning asylum seekers to Greece was illegal. Italy claims that since the ruling, this practice has been ended and that it has formally monitored the implementation of border procedures at the ports.
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