Today Mare Liberum published the Pushback Report 2021. The publication provides an overview of the violence systematically used against refugees at the EU external border in the Aegean Sea in 2021. 

Please find the whole report here or on our website.

Berlin, 21.04.2022 - Illegal pushbacks have become a regular practice of human rights violations against refugees by the European border regime. Forcing asylum seekers back over a border violates international law and deprives people of their right to asylum. Despite various international criticism, there is no end in sight to this illegal practice; in fact the number of documented pushbacks in 2021 has barely changed compared to 2020. Rather, a lot of effort is invested in covering up and a supposed normalization of these crimes.

The Pushback Report 2021 does not only criticize institutionalized violence against refugees, but also makes visible accounts by affected refugees and eyewitnesses. These testimonies show the complexity of systematic violence. Already in 2020, Mare Liberum reported on the life-threatening abandonment of refugees in life rafts on the open sea. Last year, there were additional reports of refugees being thrown from boats into the sea. Furthermore, people who had already reached the Greek islands are illegally pushed back to Turkish waters. In addition to the resort to violence and humiliation, numerous testimonies confirm the use of torture by security officials. 

There are no real consequences for the executive organs of the Hellenic Coast Guard and Frontex. Instead of prosecuting these crimes, there is a growing effort by several EU member states to legalize pushbacks. "Pushbacks must never be accepted as a legitimate instrument of EU border protection. As long as the EU does not make real efforts to investigate, sanction, and prevent these human rights violations, Greece urgently needs an independent monitoring mechanism at its borders”, claims Saskia Berger of Mare Liberum, one of the authors of the report. "In the end, safe flight routes are the only way to prevent the violence and deaths in the Aegean Sea, the central Mediterranean and at all the other EU external borders" added Saskia Berger.

As an independent observer, Mare Liberum has been monitoring the situation at the European external border in the Aegean Sea with its own ship since 2018. 

© Photo: ‘Greece Borders’

Mare Liberum i. A.

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