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Greece’s criminal policy of unlawful push backs claims another victim

Press release, 27 October 2022

Following yesterday’s urgent appeal from Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) for the rescue of an Iranian refugee in the Evros area, we understand that according to all indications the person has been unlawfully pushed back to Turkey.

We recall that in the morning of Tuesday 25 October, T.H., a 44-year-old Iranian refugee, was in a forest area south-west of the Sidiro village, Alexandroupoli near a dirt road. T.H. repeatedly called the European Emergency Number (112) and the Greek authorities. He was forced to separate from the group with which he was travelling to due to his dire health condition and was urgently requesting medical care.

On Wednesday 26 October, the competent authorities replied to repeated requests from the RSA lawyer, stating that they had not located T.H. even though she had provided them his phone number and geolocation. The refugee was located next to a dirt road and was thereby accessible to the authorities. Importantly, on the same day (26 October), the Public Prosecutor of Alexandroupoli had communicated the lawyer’s report to the Alexandroupoli Police Directorate. The Greek authorities also disregarded a 25 October order of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), granting interim measures in H.R.T. v. Greece for the person’s rescue. The Court requested from the Greek authorities to provide T.H. with the necessary medical care, water food, and not to remove him from Greece.

Contact with T.H. was abruptly interrupted. However, his mobile phone continued to send location signals on the way to the border (afternoon of 26 October). His transport is likely to have carried out on a vehicle. This person is yet another victim of Greece’s criminal policy of unlawful push backs, documented through hundreds of testimonies and described by UN reports as a de facto policy in the country. T.H. has cited risks of persecution on political grounds in case of return to Iran. Turkey may in no way be deemed a safe third country for him.

We urge the Greek authorities to respect international law on the human rights of people seeking protection and to stop putting lives at risk.

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