In January 2022, Lino Antonio Rojas Morell and Yudith Pérez Álvarez, two Cuban nationals, applied for asylum in the Greek province of Evros after entering the country irregularly. However, the Greek authorities ignored their requests and took them to a police station, where their belongings, including 375 euros, phones, and backpacks, were taken from them. The next day, they were illegally deported to Turkey along with several other people of different nationalities. Their experience, unfortunately, is not unique and is an example of how migration flows are being handled at the eastern border of the European Union.
An investigation conducted by EL PAÍS and the Greek media outlet Solomon over six months revealed a clear pattern among the Greek authorities: most migrants are caught when they enter Greece irregularly and are taken to various concentration points where they are treated violently without the opportunity to apply for asylum or register their detention, which is required by Greek and European law. They are subsequently stripped of their belongings before being illegally transported to Turkey. Data collected indicates that Greek security forces have appropriated more than two million euros in cash as well as other valuables over the past six years. Security forces have made migrants strip naked and humiliate them to discourage them from attempting to cross the border again. This pattern is not an isolated incident but has become a systematic tactic.
Hope Barker, spokesperson for the Border Violence Monitoring Network, which integrates a dozen associations that collect testimonies of pushbacks (illegal returns of migrants) at European borders, noted that phones are sometimes kept or destroyed, but the money is always confiscated. If they discover that someone has hidden their money, they are beaten as punishment. The BVMN report highlights that migrants are humiliated, demoralized, and discouraged from trying to cross the border again. The fact that security forces confiscate phones removes any evidence of their presence and makes life more difficult for them. It is essential that this pattern be addressed to protect the human rights of migrants.
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