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AYS News Digest 22/7/22: Brutal beatings, two deaths and 50 people stuck on the Evros islet

Italian authorities breached rights of asylum-seeker to be presumed a minor until his age had been properly assessed // Ombudsman opens investigation into EU-Gambia repatriation agreement // French authorities leave people without water “by mistake” // reports, analysis and suggested reads from our team

FEATURE

“What the trapped people are telling constitutes another brutal and criminal, if not outright murderous, attempt to illegally repatriate refugees from the Greek bank of the Evros to islands in the river, where they are abandoned by the Greek authorities to cross to Turkey on their own,” media reported.

In the video, the refugees discover the body of one of two Syrians who drowned in the Evros floating near the islet. The authorities forced the men without family to undress and threw them into the river to swim to the Turkish side, some of them not knowing how to swim.”

The people appealed to the European Court of Human Rights with the help of Hellenic Council for Refugees and HumanRights360, asking for an urgent order to be given to the Greek government to carry out a rescue operation, to ensure basic conditions and to register their request for asylum.

The Greek member organisations of the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) have previously collected 35 testimonies where groups were stranded on islets during a pushback, relating to the experiences of 2,450 people. In the recent report https://borderviolence.eu/20548-2/ we analysed two similar cases and outlined the fundamental rights violations of the Greek state.

Earlier in July the BVMN shared a letter of concern the Network had sent to Frontex, regarding illegal pushbacks at the Greek-Turkish border and the recent publication of new evidence of Greek authorities coercing asylum seekers into pushing other transit groups back to Turkey by Lighthouse Reports, Le Monde, der Spiegel, the Guardian, and other media outlets:

TURKEY

Securitisation widened to the network of taxi drivers

Taxi drivers, who do not ask for official documents from foreigners wishing to make interprovincial travel, will be charged with “migrant smuggling,” according to a new regulation by the Turkish Interior Ministry.

“Foreigners under international protection” in Turkey have an official “Protection ID” obtained from provincial immigration offices. The media reported that these people will have to get a second document named “Travel Permit” before intercity travel. Tourists, on the other hand, need to show their passports.

SEARCH AND RESCUE AT SEA

Still, people keep being pushed back to the Libyan Coast Guard and to the country that has consistently been breaking all the rules, laws and depriving people of their basic rights.

In the latest turn of events, Libya’s SSA security force (not subject to scrutiny) is accused of abusing people on the move.

ITALY

At least 10,000 people exploited on farms

Abuse continues once people reach the EU member states, too.
One such example we had been reporting about in previous years is that of farm workers across Italy.

There are at least 10,000 “migrant farmworkers” living in makeshift settlements in Italy, considered places of exploitation in which they are deprived of their basic rights, recent reports confirm. The report “shows the way in which we acknowledge and deny dignity to those lives and that work”, said the Labor Minister:

For far too long we have carried the burden of places that reject our founding principles and the respect due to every human being. We cannot and do not want to carry that burden any longer.

Find out more here.

Italian authorities breached the rights of asylum-seeker to be presumed and treated as a minor until his age had been properly assessed.

On 21 July 2022, the European Court of Human Rights sentenced Italy to pay compensation for the non-pecuniary damage suffered by a Gambian boy, Darboe Ousainou, an unaccompanied foreign minor who arrived on Italian shores in June 2016, when he was just 17 years old, ASGI reported.

The court decision is available in PDF document version here.

Ombudsman opens investigation into EU-Gambia repatriation agreement

In May 2018, the European Union signed an agreement with Gambia, called Good Practices Procedure on identification and return, never made public on the assumption that it was not a formal agreement. ASGI filed an application for civic access to the European Commission, but received a rejection.

On 6 July 2022, thanks to the support of the Strategic Litigation: International Human Rights Legal Clinic of the University of Turin, the matter was reported to the European Ombudsman, who has now decided to open an investigation and confirmed the need to be able to view the agreement to assess whether or not it is an international agreement, therefore subject to the obligation of publicity, ASGI writes.

FRANCE

In response to everyone who voiced their concern, anger and disbelief at the fact that the local authorities had taken away water from the area and left people without the most basic need in life during a heat wave, the Prefecture has responded they “did it by mistake”, assuring the public that the water will be reinstalled in the same place:

GERMANY

Hassan, an activist and a spiritus movens from Sudan has died

Hassan Numan, 45, a political scientist and refugee from Sudan, was expected to speak at an activist gathering, the Transborder Camp, but he never made the trip. From 2017, Numan lived in a run-down refugee camp in Osnabrück’ss Ickerweg. He became famous as the man with the whistle, TAZ writes in an article dedicated to the man who inspired many.

They blocked the entrances with garbage cans, barred the gates and started singing — the Sudanese national anthem or Arabic children’s songs. Chaos reigned — and the police withdrew again. “Zero violence is important to us,” Numan said at the time. With this principle they were able to prevent deportations again and again. “We want to assert our rights. And we are many, we can achieve something.”

GENERAL

Frontex

Monroy notes this could also endanger initiatives like Alarm Phone Sahara, which is trying to prevent people starving in the desert by providing them with information to not get lost or die of thirst.

Statewatch also reports:

“The negotiating directives for the deal with Senegal, also obtained by Statewatch, demand criminal and civil immunity [!!!] of Frontex staff in Senegal “under all circumstances”.

WORTH READING

  • “Those voicing concern are met with denial rather than diplomacy, but accountability mechanisms at various levels continue to offer formal recognition of rights violations and persistent issues related to the national implementation of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) in Greece. The NGO community in Greece also remains very active in highlighting the realities of the asylum system. Taken together, these collective efforts around advocacy and reporting, case law, activism, and dialogue serve as a foundation on which significant improvements can be made if only the EU and national governments demonstrate the political will.”
  • We’re sharing a report from the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration heavily criticizing the UK government’s handling of Channel migrants. The report said the treatment was “unacceptable, ineffective and inefficient”:
  • Support our friend organisation from Germany on their way to support fragile civil support to people on the move in Bosnia and Herzegovina:
  • Forced Migration Current Awareness:

Find daily updates and special reports on our Medium page.

If you wish to contribute, either by writing a report or a story, or by joining the Info Gathering team, please let us know!

We strive to echo correct news from the ground through collaboration and fairness. Every effort has been made to credit organisations and individuals with regard to the supply of information, video, and photo material (in cases where the source wanted to be accredited). Please notify us regarding corrections.

If there’s anything you want to share or comment, contact us through Facebook, Twitter or write to: areyousyrious@gmail.com

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Are You Syrious?

Are You Syrious?

Daily news digests from the field, mainly for volunteers and refugees on the route, but also for journalists and other parties.