Accessibility links

Breaking News

EU Demands Greece Migrant Probe

FILE: Migrants arrive in a dinghy accompanied by a Frontex vessel at the village of Skala Sikaminias, on the Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing the Aegean sea on Feb. 28, 2020.

BRUSSELS - The E.U. on Monday said it had demanded that Greece open a comprehensive probe into video footage apparently showing the forceful expulsion of migrants who are set adrift at sea.

"My services have sent a formal request to Greek authorities that this incident be fully and independently investigated," EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson tweeted.

The footage, published by the New York Times on Friday, showed what appeared to be masked men on April 11 accosting migrants - including a baby - who had arrived in Greece by boat and bundling them in a van.

The video then showed the migrants being taken out into the Aegean Sea, transferred to an inflatable raft and set adrift. Turkish coast guard boats are seen rescuing them around an hour later.

Contacted by AFP, Greece's migration ministry declined comment.

The video added to growing documentation by media and rights groups suggesting Greek authorities were actively involved in multiple "pushbacks" of migrants - illegal under refugee law.

As in previous cases brought to light, the European Commission on Monday expressed its "concern" at the latest report, with one spokeswoman saying it "is inquiring with the Greek authorities about this."

Johansson pointed to past conversations she had had with Greek government officials about the multiplying incidents of alleged pushbacks, saying that a year ago she had told them "there is no place for illegal deportations."

Member states sitting on the south and southeastern outer rim of the European Union, including Greece, complain that they are unfairly burdened with arrivals of undocumented migrants.

They were at the forefront of a big 2015 influx of migrants, many of them Syrians fleeing the civil war, which was reduced when Brussels struck a 2016 financial deal with Turkey to stem the flow.

Efforts by the commission to come up with a revised asylum policy have foundered on the refusal of several E.U. countries to allow a redistribution of undocumented migrants onto their territories.