Pushbacks of Turkish asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey: Violation of the principle of non-refoulement

This report focuses on how illegal pushbacks by Greek authorities have devastating consequences on Turkish asylum seekers upon their return to Turkey.

In recent years international human rights organizations have documented how Greece has systematically pushed back asylum seekers and committed other human rights abuses to prevent people from entering the EU. According to recent reports, the illegal pushbacks and unlawful return of asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey are not rare incidents and reflect the official policy of the Greek government as well as the covert acquiescence of some EU institutions.

“Pushbacks of asylum seekers and migrants from other countries by Greece to Turkey are in clear violation of the basic principles of international law,” said İrem Çörekçi, communications director at SCF. “However, pushbacks pose more acute problems for Turkish nationals, who are forcibly returned to torture, ill-treatment and other serious human rights violations.”

Thousands of people who were facing arrest for alleged membership in the faith-based Gülen movement have fled Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt carried out by the Turkish government since a coup attempt in 2016 and have taken dangerous journeys across the Evros River or the Aegean Sea. Many have tried to flee illegally as the government had cancelled the passports of thousands of people.

This report provides a brief account of the alarming extent and consequences of the pushbacks of asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey in the last couple of years. It then sets out reported cases of pushback of Turkish asylum seekers who are fleeing the persecution of Turkish authorities. The report discusses how the pushbacks, particularly of Turkish asylum seekers, violate the principles of international and European Union law, in particular the principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits returning refugees to a country where they would face persecution. Finally, it concludes with some recommendations addressed to the Greek authorities and EU institutions as well as civil society and human rights organizations.

“Many Turkish asylum seekers who are pushed back are arrested upon return on trumped-up terrorism charges,” Çörekçi said. “People seeking safety in Greece should be provided humane treatment and given access to asylum procedures.”

About the Stockholm Center for Freedom

SCF is a non-profit advocacy organization that promotes the rule of law, democracy and human rights with a special focus on Turkey.

Committed to serving as a reference source by providing a broad perspective on rights violations in Turkey, SCF monitors daily developments, documents individual cases of the infringement of fundamental rights and publishes comprehensive reports on human rights issues.

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