Two Afghan minors have lodged a case before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) against Greece after falling victim to a so-called pushback by the Greek coastguard. They are represented by lawyers Flip Schüller and Lisa-Marie Komp, together with the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN).
The two boys, aged 15 and 16, arrived on the Greek island Samos in September 2020. There, they walked to a refugee camp where they wanted to request asylum. In the camp, they were taken by the Greek authorities who drove them to the beach in a car. There, they were brought aboard a vessel of the Greek coastguard that then set out in the direction of Turkey. The Greek coastguard then forced the two boys onto an motorless rescue dinghy in open sea, and then left the boys to their own devices in this perilous situation. Using their hands to paddle the dinghy, the boys managed to reach the Turkish mainnland where they were found by the Turkish authorities.
The NGO Aegan Boat Report extensively documented this pushback and brought the boys in contact with GLAN. On behalf of the two boys, GLAN and the lawyers have now lodged this case against Greece with the ECtHR. In the case, it is argued that these actions by the Greek coast guardbrought the two boys in a life-threatening situation in violation of their right to life, constitutes inhumane treatment and violates the principle of non-refoulement as the boys were deported without processing their asylum-applications.
This case does not stand alone: the Greek coast guard systematically conducts pushbacks in contravention of international law.
For more information about the case, see:
- V. Wood, 'Greek ‘pushbacks’ brought to European court after child refugees ‘towed out to sea and abandoned in raft’', Independent, 5 March 2021