Stuck in a Revolving Door
New report of HRW is about obstacles placed at the Greek entrance to the EU that prevent Iraqis and other asylum seekers and migrants from entering the European Union or that summarily expel them when they do. It includes testimonies from Iraqis and other asylum seekers and migrants on both sides of the Greek-Turkish border about pushbacks and summary expulsions from Greece, inhuman and degrading conditions of detention in Greece, Greek police and coast guard brutality and harassment, and the blocking of access to asylum in Greece as well as the denial of asylum and other forms of protection to those needing it.
This report is also about abusive treatment of migrants by Turkish border authorities in the border region with Greece, including inhuman and degrading conditions of detention in direct violation of Turkey’s obligations under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). Once detained, such migrants have no meaningful opportunity to seek asylum or other forms of protection in Turkey and are often held indefinitely until family or friends are able to provide them return tickets. Turkey, which has placed a limitation on the Refugee Convention that only recognizes Europeans as refugees, continues to put Iraqis apprehended at the Greek border on buses and return them to Iraq without giving them any meaningful opportunity to seek protection before being returned.
Given the risk of serious harm arising from generalized violence and widespread targeted persecution in Iraq, Human Rights Watch regards Turkey’s return of Iraqis apprehended at the Greek border, in the absence of meaningful opportunities to seek asylum, as a violation of the principle of non-refoulement, the cornerstone of refugee rights law that prohibits the return of a refugee to persecution. International human rights law in the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment or Treatment (CAT) also prohibits returning anyone to face torture. On the regional level, Article 3 of the ECHR also prohibits European states from returning anyone who would face a real risk of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.