A 15-year old asylum seeker has 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.The unaccompanied child is represented by Flip Schüller and Lisa-Marie Komp, together with Niamh Keady-Tabbal and Valentina Azaorva of de:border | migration justice collective.
A 15 year-old asylum seeking child arrived on the Greek island Samos in September 2020. There, he and another child from the group walked to a refugee camp where they wanted to request asylum. In the camp, the two boys were taken by the Greek authorities who drove them to the beach in a car. There, they were brought aboard a Greek Coast Guard vessel that then set out in the direction of Turkey. The Greek coastguard then forced the two boys onto an motorless raft in the open sea, and then left them to their own devices in this perilous situation. Using their hands to paddle the raft, the boys were eventually picked up by the Turkish Coast Guard.
The NGO Aegan Boat Report extensively documented this pushback and brought the applicant in contact with the lawyers. In the case, it is argued that these actions by the Greek Coast Guard which put the applicant (and his companion) in a life-threatening situation in violation of his right to life, constitute inhumane treatment and violates the principle of non-refoulement as the applicant was deported without processing his asylum-application.
This case does not stand alone: the Greek coast guard systematically conducts pushbacks in contravention of international law and there are dozens of cases pending before the court concerning these illegal patterns of conduct.
The case was filed in March 2021 by a team of lawyers from Prakken d’Oliveira with members of the Global Legal Action Network. The case moved to de:border in January 2022. For more information about the case, see:
- Wood, 'Greek ‘pushbacks’ brought to European court after child refugees ‘towed out to sea and abandoned in raft’', Independent, 5 March 2021