The Greek government is under severe criticism from human rights organisations accusing it of breaching international laws, by sending Turkish refugees, seeking asylum in Greece, back to Turkey.

According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), there have been “at least five cases of refoulement which may suggest a systematic and deliberate policy on the part of Greece to send back asylum seekers of Turkish origin back to Turkey to face wrongful imprisonment, torture and ill-treatment”, something that is considereed a breach of European Union (EU) and international laws.

The new practice has been put into action as of mid-May and involved Greek security forces as well as unidentified and masked gunmen who intercept people near Turkish border and send them to other side by force, violence and threats. The Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR) reports that one of the incidents took place in Evros, near Didymoteicho, where the Police handed over to a unit of masked gunmen a group of people who had stated they wished to apply for international protection in Greece because of persecution in Turkey. Another incident concerns the prominent Turkish journalist Murat Çapan, who had been sentenced to 22.5 years for two news stories that are critical of Erdoğan government in liberal Nokta magazine where he worked as the managing editor.

The informal and forced refoulement of any person is considered an act of violence and is a blatant violation of international law and the international obligations of Greece. There has been no official response or confirmation of the refoulements so far, but the HLHR claims that it has proof – such as the license plates of the vans carrying the asylum seekers – and it is has already contacted the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and will bring the matter to the attention of Greek courts and tribunals.