EU orders probe into migrant pushbacks in Greece and Croatia
The European Union’s executive is calling for an investigation into potentially illegal migrant pushback operations in Croatia and Greece following reports from German media outlets Der Spiegel and ARD, Reuters reported.
Some of these operations reportedly turned violent as Croatian and Greek special forces sometimes concealed their identities when pushing migrants back into Bosnia and the Aegean Sea, respectively.
“Some of these reports are shocking,” said EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson, adding she expects a thorough investigation into these incidents.
In total @LHReports & partners filmed 11 pushbacks in Croatia. Drone footage shows a police officer covering his face with a balaclava before forcing at least 15 people over the border to Bosnia pic.twitter.com/9IZQSIY1c6
— Lighthouse Reports (@LHreports) October 6, 2021
Lighthouse Reports outlined its monthlong investigation on the conditions along the Croatian borders toward migrants. They allege abuse by Croatian police, including the use of police-specific batons to dispel migrants.
According to EU law, people have a right to seek asylum at European Union borders and member states are not permitted to send asylum-seekers back to places where their lives are endangered or their safety is in question.
Johansson is due Thursday to speak with Croatian and Greek interior ministers, who are currently in Brussels for an unrelated meeting with fellow EU member states.
She said she would urge them to take these matters “very seriously,” adding the reports from German outlets seem “very credible” in detailing systemic abuse by the Greek and Croatian police.
The Croatian interior minister has also said police would conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations but said border police acted in line with the law, Reuters reported.
The migration ministry in Athens has denied allegations of abuse by their forces and claimed that their border patrol acts in accordance with EU law, according to the news wire.