August 1, 2014

Briefing on Farmakonisi Boat Wreck



Athens, 31 July 2014


During the early hours of 20.1.2014, off the coast of Farmakonisi island, within Greek waters and close to the border line, a small boat capsized, which carried 27 refugees from Afghanistan and Syria, including 4 women and 9 children. The boat capsized and sank, while it was towed by a vessel of the Greek Coast Guard. The sinking resulted in the death of 11 persons (3 women and 8 children). The corpses of one woman and two children were found at sea and the rest of them in the cabin of the vessel, when it was lifted one month after its sinking.

During their immediate contact with the representatives of the UNHCR, which took place the following day on the island of Leros, the 16 refugees who survived reported that their boat had approached the Greek coastline when it came across the Coast Guard and that the towing of the boat by the coast guard was conducted towards Turkey, in two stages at high speeds and resulting in water entering the boat. They also reported that the rope which kept the boat connected with the Coast Guard vessel was cut by the Coast Guard officers, which resulted in the boat being capsized and in the death of 11 women and children and that the necessary rescue actions were not taken. They also complained about further acts of mistreatment against them after they reached the island of Farmakonisi.

The Coast Guard officers, on the contrary, have denied the complaints.

The Prosecutor of the Marine Court has ordered a preliminary investigation on this case, which has been extensively covered by the Press attracting international interest and has been dealt with by the Greek and the European Parliament. Our organisations have closely followed the case, supporting the victims in exercizing their rights.

Archiving of the penal file
After a preliminary investigation led by the Prosecutor of Piraeus' Marine Court, the case was considered to be “manifestly ill-founded in substance” with regard to Articles 306 (exposure to risk), Article 277 (causing a shipwreck), Article 278 (causing a shipwreck by negligence) and Article 308 (bodily harm) of the Penal Code and the file was archived.

This meant that the investigation into the responsibility of the Greek coast guard for causing the boat to sink as well as for inflicting ill-treatment against the victims - as they had been accused of by the survivors - was stopped.

The decision to end the investigation was approved by the Prosecutor of the Military Court of Review, who has under the law the power to order a criminal prosecution.

The decision of Piraeus' Marine Court to close and archive the case and turn a blind eye to the accusations raised by the victims as well as their detailed testimonies concerning the facts of the case, undermines the right to judicial protection and overrides fundamental rights and guarantees that aim at protecting the victim in penal procedures.

July 30, 2014

Invitation to Press Conference on Farmakonisi shipwreck- Thursday 31 July at 12:00 hrs

Dear all,

the Greek Council for Refugee, the Hellenic League for Human Rights, the Network of Social Support to Refugees and Migrants  - DIKTYO and the Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Migrants and Refugees cordially invite you to attend their Press Conference on Thursday, 31 July 2014, at 12:00pm, in the Venue Room of the Athens Bar Association at Akadimias Str. No 60.

The Press Conference concerns the unprecedented decision of the Prosecutor of Piraeus' Marine Court to archive the case and essentially close the judicial investigation into the responsibility of the Coast Guard staff for the tragic boat wreck near Farmakonisi island on 20 January 2014, during which 8 children and 3 women – all refugees from Afghanistan – drowned after being intercepted by the Greek Coast Guard.

The decision of Piraeus' Marine Court Prosecutor has been approved by the Prosecutor of the Military Court of Review.

April 5, 2014

Global Detention Project: Greek detention profile


Greece has been ground zero in Europe’s efforts to halt irregular migration for several years. At the same time, the country’s economic crisis has exasperated social divisions leading to increasing violence and hostility directed at foreigners.

With massive financial and operational assistance provided by the European Union, Greece has confronted migratory pressures by emphasizing interdiction, detention, and removal. A 2013 Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) report summarized: “Greece has focused on reinforcing its external borders and started a policy which relies too heavily on detention. Despite the Greek authorities’ determination to improve the asylum system and detention conditions, which in many instances remain deplorable, much still needs to be done” (PACE 2013).

March 27, 2014

Call for the immediate withdrawal of an unacceptable amendment. The protection of racist violence victims must be ensured

Athens, 26 March 2013. 35 organizations constituting the Racist Violence Recording Network are expressing their unequivocal opposition to the promoted amendment to Article 19 of the Immigration Code, which, if adopted, shall be a shield of protection for all perjuring government officials who are involved in incidents of racist violence and shall virtually set aside any possibility of protection for the victims.

November 27, 2013

Press Release: Two coast guards convicted of torturing asylum seeker upon entry into Greece

On 25. November 2013 the Five-Member Naval Court of Piraeus found two out of three accused coast guards guilty for having committed acts of torture against an asylum seeker, including restricting the victim's breathing so as to simulate drowning and suffocation ('wet and dry submarino'), carrying out mock execution, as well as other serious attacks on human dignity, immediately after the victim's entry into Greece and during his transfer with other asylum-seekers to the Port of Chios. The above-mentioned incident was first documented in the report entitled “The truth may be bitter but it must be told – The Situation of Refugees in the Aegean and the Practices of the Greek Coast Guard” by the Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants and the NGO Pro-Asyl, which was published in 2007 and has attracted extensive publicity ever since.

The two defendants received suspended jail sentences of 6- and 3-years as well as long-term deprival of their political rights. In addition, one of the convicted coast guards faces demotion once the decision becomes final.

November 26, 2013



Atene, 26/11/2013

Ieri 25/11, il Tribunale Marritimo del Pireo in seduta collegiale ha condannato due delle tre guardie costiere imputate di aver torturato un rifugiato, tramite il blocco del respiro fino ai limiti dell'asfissia (il "waterboarding", con e senza acqua), e attraverso finte esecuzioni sommarie, oltre ad altre pesanti offese della dignità umana. Il tutto è avvenuto subito dopo il suo rientro in Grecia, durante il trasferimento del gruppo dei rifugiati al porto dell'isola di Chios. Il crimine venne documentato dal "Gruppo di Avvocati per i Diritti dei Rifugiati e dei Migranti" e dall'ONG "Pro Asyl" nel rapporto del 2007 "The truth must be bitter but must be told - The situation of refugees in the Aegean Sea and the practices of the Greek Coastguard", che ebbe grande risonanza.

I due imputati sono stati condannati a 6 anni e 3 anni di reclusione con effetto sospensivo, oltre all'inflizione della perdita dei diritti politici per molti anni. Al primo di questi personaggi è stata comminata la deposizione dal suo grado, dopo la comunicazione della sentenza irrevocabile.

November 9, 2013

Pushed Back – systematic human rights violations against refugees in the aegean sea and at the greek turkish land border


On the Greek-Turkish land border refugees are systematically refouled with brutal, shocking and systematic violations of human rights: ‘When they left us in the Turkish waters they made waves again and six of us – all men – fell into the sea. The Greeks saw that, but they didn’t help, they just left.’ PRO ASYL documents these systematic pushback in the report “Pushed Back – systematic human rights violations against refugees in the aegean sea and the greek-turkish land border”. With few exceptions, all documented pushback took place in the area of ​​operations of Frontex. PRO ASYL raises the question of the involvement of Frontex on the human rights violations and calls: Frontex must end its operations in Greece.

Download Report (in English)
Summary (in German)