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Pushbacks of migrants increase due to Covid-19 crisis

47th Session of the Human Rights Council

Item 3: Oral Statement during the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants

23 June 2021

Thank your Madam President.

The OMCT SOS-Torture network welcomes the report of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants. The proposed definition of pushbacks perfectly describes the various incidents documented these last years by our organisations in several countries, including Greece and Italy.

From March to December 2020, several Greek NGOs have documented the collective and arbitrary expulsions of more than 7000 migrants by the Hellenic Coast Guard to Turkish waters. Some of them have been arrested in the Evros area, at the land border between Greece and Turkey, before been sent to Turkey.

Hundreds of men, women, and children are left drifting on inflatable life rafts in helpless conditions and without life jackets. The State does not follow due process in cases where migrants clearly and repeatedly state that they would like to apply for asylum. They are not presented to a judge, and cannot meet a medical doctor, an interpreter, or a lawyer.

Because of the Covid-19 crisis, pushbacks of migrants have increased. New tactics have been developed such as the closed-ports policy implemented in Italy which consists in the authorities blocking access to Italian ports.

Several unreported cases are waiting to be investigated, while pushbacks continue, notably in Europe. The investigations by judicial authorities should address the denial of migrants’ rights and their exposure to torture and ill-treatment.

Thank you

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