The regulation of private security companies in migration was the focus of an eight-day visit to Greece by a United Nations group of human rights experts.

The UN working group on the use of mercenaries and private military and security companies condemned the practice of not outsourcing core governmental functions to private companies, but noted concerns on the increasing use of such companies in the migration context.

High-tech security systems deployed in migration camps, including the closed controlled access centres (CCAC) operating in the Aegean islands feature cameras and motion sensors, algorithms to automatically predict behaviours and flag threats such as the presence of guns, unauthorised vehicles, or unusual visits into these asylum centres.

The UN expert delegation has warned against using a “prison-like type of security model as a platform for the reception of asylum-seekers” highlighting the risk for disproportionate surveillance developed by private companies to infringe on the rights to freedom of movement and privacy of people held in the centres.

Challenges were also flagged arising around the monitoring of activities of foreign armed private security companies hired by Greek ship owners to provide security at sea.

“The Greek Government should consider establishing an independent monitoring and oversight mechanism to track the operations of private security companies and their personnel, and to ensure that such operations are fully respectful of human rights,” said the Working Group.

During the eight-day visit, the delegation met with key stakeholders in Athens, including government officials, NGO representatives and private security industry actors. They also visited the recently established CCAC migrant centre on the island of Samos.