Access to the territory and push backs


Country Report: Access to the territory and push backs Last updated: 08/06/23


Greek Council for Refugees Visit Website

In 2022, a total of 18,780 refugees and migrants arrived in Greece. This marked an increase of 105.09% compared to 9,157 refugees and migrants in 2021.[1] Of this total, 12,758 persons arrived in Greece by sea in 2022 compared to 4,331 persons in 2021. The majority originated from Palestine (21.7%), Afghanistan (17.2%) and Somalia (14.1%). Nearly half of this population were women (17.8%) and children (28,3 %), while 54% were adult men.[2]

Moreover, according to UNHCR 6,022 persons arrived in Greece through the Greek-Turkish land border of Evros in 2022, compared to a total of 4,826 persons in 2021.[3] In 2022, a total of 12,758 refugees and migrants arrived in Greece by sea, according to UNHCR.[4] According to police statistics, 6,672 arrests were carried out in the first ten months of 2022 for irregular entry at the Evros land border with Türkiye,[5] compared to 5,256 arrests in 2021.[6]

In statistical data submitted to the Greek Parliament by the Minister of Public Order,[7] a total of 230,993 third country nationals in 6,736 incidents were “prevented from entrance” in Greece in just the first 10 months of 2022, compared to 175,301 in 6,319 incidents in 2021. According to an announcement by the Ministry of Public Order[8] in January 2023 referring to police statistics, a total number of 256,000 persons were prevented from “illegal invasion” in 2022.

Meanwhile, in October 2022, after two separate deadly shipwrecks[9] in Kithira and Lesvos that both occurred on the same day, UNHCR and IOM[10] underlined deaths at sea. Maria Clara Martin, UNHCR Representative in Greece, stated:[11]

‘237 people have been recorded dead or missing in their attempt to cross the Eastern Mediterranean route, according to IOM’s missing migrants project, while the total number of dead or missing in the Mediterranean sea for the same period of time is 1,522.’

‘These latest tragedies are painful reminders that more needs to be done to prevent people fleeing persecution and war from entrusting their lives to unscrupulous smugglers. International and regional cooperation is needed to ensure people have access to asylum and safe pathways.’

Based on the information above, figures on the number of entries in 2022 may under-represent the number of people attempting to enter Greece or that found themselves on the Greek territory, given that cases of alleged pushbacks have been systematically reported in 2022, as was the case in 2021. The persisting practice of alleged pushbacks has been reported inter alia by UNHCR, IOM, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, the Council of Europe Commissioner and civil society organisations (see sources below).

The Greek Government has remained opposed to the development of an independent border monitoring mechanism and has referred[12] to the National Transparency Authority (NTA) as the body responsible amongst others for the investigation of pushback allegations.[13] As at the date of this report, no effective investigation has been conducted on the repeated pushback allegations. The National Transparency Authority (NTA) has been criticised[14] for lacking expertise to investigate pushbacks and for failing to act an independent body, due to its failure to comply with the constitutional prerequisites for safeguarding the independence of such authorities. In May 2022, NTA released an investigation report[15] following the referral of a case by the Minister of Migration and Asylum in response to the Lighthouse Report’s[16] material on push backs against refugees and migrants by Greece. The investigation was carried out from November 2021 to March 2022. This investigation did not involve any victim of pushbacks, representatives of UN agencies, or the Ombudsman or the Greek National Commission for Human Rights. In fact only 1 lawyer and 1 NGO offering medical services were interviewed, out of a total of 65 persons interviewed, which included 29 Greek officials.[17] Both the contents and process of publication of the report were marred by serious deficiencies, such as the investigation’s stated aims inter alia to ‘to reflect the view of local communities on how irregular migration is managed by the relevant national bodies’[18] and to record ‘the view of the local community on allegations of pushbacks’ and the failure to correctly anonymise the data of the report.[19]

Additionally, in July 2022 and following discussion[20] between the EU Commission and the Greek Authorities on a ‘new proposal to mainstream fundamental rights’ within the Greek asylum system, a Fundamental Rights Officer (FRO)[21] and a Special Commission on Fundamental Rights Compliance (Task Force for Fundamental Rights Compliance) were appointed[22] within the Ministry of Migration and Asylum. The Ministry of Migration and Asylum publicly announced the first meeting of the Commission in August 2022, even though no JMD had been adopted to define its exact responsibilities.[23] No further information has been made available by the Ministry on the work of the Commission to date. Both the Ombudsman[24] and the National Commission for Human Rights (GNCHR)[25] have explicitly called upon the government to reconsider the above reform of a Commission underpinned by ‘majority participation of representatives of the Administration’,[26] as incompatible with their mandates and independence.

Furthermore, the Recording Mechanism of Informal Forced Returns that commenced operations in early 2022 under the supervision of the National Commission for Human Rights, presented its first Interim Report[27] in January 2023. In the framework of this Mechanism, ten civil society organisations,[28] including GCR, recorded at least 50 incidents and 58 testimonies of informal forced returns which, according to testimonies of the alleged victims, occurred between April 2020 and October 2022. The total number of alleged victims in the report was approximately 2,157 third country nationals, including asylum seekers and recognised refugees in Greece.

In 2022, the practice of refoulements continued to be used as a “front-line” tool of the country’s migration policy to halt the flow of refugees and to deter others from attempting to irregularly cross the borders. The practice is a permanent eventuality for people attempting to cross the borders according to testimonies, media coverage and reports. Serious incidents of alleged refoulements have been monitored regarding the arbitrary removal of people residing on the mainland (mainly Thessaloniki) or on the islands.

In a statement from February 2022, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants mentioned that:[29]

‘Violence, ill-treatment and pushbacks continue to be regularly reported at multiple entry points at land and sea borders, within and beyond the European Union (EU), despite repeated calls by UN agencies, including UNHCR, intergovernmental organisations and NGOs to end such practices. We are alarmed by recurrent and consistent reports coming from Greece’s land and sea borders with Türkiye, where UNHCR has recorded almost 540 reported incidents of informal returns by Greece since the beginning of 2020. Disturbing incidents are also reported in Central and South-eastern Europe at the borders with EU Member States’.

In addition, the European Parliament delayed the approval of Frontex’s accounts in 2021 and rebuked the agency for failing to respond to its previous recommendations. In a report motivated by its the latest delay, the European Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee found that Frontex ‘did not evaluate its activities in Greece, even though reports by institutions of Member States, the Council of Europe, and the United Nations show that the Agency was carrying out operations in sections where simultaneously, fundamental rights violations were taking place’.[30]

In May 2022, the European parliament refused to sign off the EU border agency’s accounts, saying it failed to investigate alleged human rights violations of asylum seekers in Greece.[31] In line with the European Parliament’s Budget Control Committee’s recommendations from 6 October, the European Parliament on 18 October refused[32] to approve the 2020 budget of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex. Home Affairs Commissioner, Johansson expressed her “shock” over findings in the leaked report by the EU watch-dog OLAF[33] but stated that he had confidence in the Management Board. Frontex stated that the misconduct revealed in the report were “Practices of the Past” but NGOs have found no difference in practice and have urged EU action against Greece and suspension of the agency’s operations.

Pushbacks at land borders

In relation to pushbacks at land borders, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants has noted that, in addition to ‘increased militarisation of the Evros land border…which has effectively resulted in preventing entry and in the summary and collective expulsion of tens of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers’, there have been allegations that ‘pushbacks are also reportedly carried out from urban areas, including reception and detention centres’.[34] In a report issued in April 2022, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants stated that ‘[i]n Greece, pushbacks at land and sea borders have become de facto general policy’.[35]

On 21 February 2022, UNHCR expressed its concerns regarding recurrent and consistent reports from Greece’s land and sea borders with Türkiye. At least three people are reported to have died since September 2021 in the Aegean Sea, including one in January 2022, while almost 540 reported incidents of informal returns by Greece have been recorded since the beginning of 2020.[36] The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has also been alarmed by increasing migrant deaths and continuous reports of pushbacks at the border between Greece and Türkiye.[37] Regarding pushbacks on land, in June 2022 a journalistic investigation[38] reported that the Greek police were using foreigners as “slaves” to forcibly return asylum seekers to Türkiye, and who were alleged to have been operating mostly, in the region of Evros.

In Greece, many legal practitioners have resorted to litigating cases directly to the ECtHR or to UN Committees, due to the ineffective procedure in domestic courts, as the policy of pushbacks seems ‘to have contaminated the judiciary’[39] and the majority of investigations connected to pushbacks have been closed by public prosecutors by invoking lack of evidence. Many of these cases have been referred to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) as domestic remedies were ineffective.[40]

Since March 2022 the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) has represented[41] 468 Syrian and 39 Turkish refugees, including many children, before the European Court of Human Rights, especially in cases of persons who entered Greece through the land border and were in need of international protection. GCR filed 24 applications for interim measures (Rule 39), requesting humanitarian assistance and access to the asylum procedure. The ECtHR granted the requested interim measures for all cases and ordered the Greek government not to remove the refugees from the country’s territory and to provide them with food, water and proper medical care. The ECtHR also requested to be informed by the Greek government, amongst other things, on whether they have submitted an asylum application and whether they have had access to the asylum procedure and legal assistance. Some of the members of these 24 groups have been formally arrested by the Greek authorities but most of them complained that they were pushed back to Türkiye. It should be noted that persons even from the groups that were formally arrested, complained that, in the past they had been subjected to violent and informal return (pushbacks) to Türkiye from Greece.

Furthermore, both with respect to those stranded on the islets and those in the Greek mainland, the refugees who complain that they have been pushed back to Türkiye, also complain that they were informally arrested by the Greek authorities, informally detained in an unspecified detention facility in the Evros region, they were ill-treated and were transferred to the Evros river bank where they were forcibly boarded on boats and pushed back to Türkiye.

Moreover, since 2022 GCR sent at least 185 interventions to the Greek authorities for the cases of more than 1,000 refugees including many children, from Syria, Türkiye, Afghanistan and Iraq, who entered Greece from the Evros region seeking international protection. In approximately half of these interventions, the Greek authorities responded positively by locating them and providing them with access to the relevant legal procedures. However, with the remaining interventions, the Greek authorities either did not respond or replied that they had not been able to locate the refugees. In some of these interventions, which concerned refugees from Türkiye and Syria, GCR was informed later that the refugees had been informally and forcibly returned to Türkiye, without being given the opportunity to submit an asylum application. For the rest of these interventions, GCR has had no information on the whereabouts of the refugees. In parallel, GCR filed 11 appeals before the ECtHR which are pending before the Court. Out of these cases, 38 cases were recorded in the Mechanism for Recording Incidents of Informal Forced Returns of the National Human Rights Commission, of which GCR is a member. These cases are included, inter alia, in GCR’s report ‘At Europe’s borders: between impunity and criminalization’, recently published and presented before the European Parliament.[42]

Among the above pending cases before the ECtHR, in Application no. 35090/22 K.A. and Others v. Greece (interim measures granted on 20 July 2022), 50 Syrian refugees who were allegedly stranded on an islet in the Evros river, complained that they were pushed-back from Greece to Türkiye after the Court’s decision. Most of them entered Greece again and found themselves stranded on the same islet once again.[43] These refugees also complained that a young girl had died on the islet from insect bites. After succeeding to reach the mainland on their own, these refugees were formally arrested and registered on 15 August 2022. On 13 August, UNHCR stated that: ‘We continue to be gravely concerned for the safety and wellbeing of some 40 people allegedly stranded on an islet at the Greece-Türkiye border. According to reports received a child has tragically already died. Unless urgent action is taken, we fear further lives remain at stake’.[44] The full application before the Court has been submitted by GCR. This specific case attracted the media’s attention, public interest and activated a “public debate” around the facts of the case with many press releases, interviews and statements before the Greek Parliament. However, the case of 38 remains a pushback case[45] that the Greek State tries ‘to conceal in the public debate, by shifting the focus from the main issue which is the Greek State’s responsibility for the violent pushback operations. The Government continues to question the role of the Organisations that filed the interim measures before the ECtHR’.[46]

In its annual review of Greece for 2022, Human Rights Watch stated that Greece regularly ignores an increased number of emergency orders issued by the ECtHR to prevent the summary return of asylum seekers stranded along the borders with Türkiye, being at imminent risk of pushback.[47] According to the same source, the Greek authorities accused[48] NGOs of coordinating with smugglers to circumvent border controls by making appeals to the ECtHR to prevent pushbacks in the Evros region, with the authorities reportedly initiating an “investigation” into organisations active in the region. It has been observed[49] that the Greek authorities systematically and flagrantly ignore the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the multiple applications for interim measures it has granted during 2022 and the 32 communicated applications,[50] while refusing to respond to the complaints that organised practices, including serious crimes (torture, robbery, endangerment of life), are being carried out at the Greek borders with the aim of deterrence, apparently in the name of “border protection”.

On 26 January 2023, the ECtHR delivered its judgment in the case of B.Y. v. Greece, application no. 60990/14[51] , which was represented before the Court by GCR, the Network of Social Support of Refugees and Immigrants, the Lawyers’ Group for the rights of Refugees and Immigrants. The Court ruled that there was a violation of Article 3 (the procedural limb of Article 3 in conjunction with Article 13) of the Convention. The case concerned[52] a Turkish national who alleged that he was forcibly removed from Greece (Athens) to Türkiye, despite his attempts to claim asylum on the grounds of political opinion. The ECtHR, by a majority of 4 votes, against 3, did not uphold the plea of violation of Article 3 in its substantive part, because, despite the abundance of evidence submitted, the majority of the Court maintained reservations and ultimately concluded that it was impossible to admit the applicant’s presence in Greece during the period in question. The Court notes, however, that that failure stems to a large extent from the failure of the national authorities to carry out the thorough and effective investigation which they were required to carry out and to provide the necessary evidence.

On the contrary, the three Members of the Court, in a strong joint minority opinion, held that Greece should be condemned also on the substantive part of the violation of Article 3 ECHR.

Pushbacks at sea

In April 2022, a research was published[53] on the involvement[54] of Frontex in the pushbacks of at least 957 refugees between March 2020 and September 2021. It was noted[55] that ‘the term “prevention of departure” is commonly used to report practices better known as pushbacks, illegal under Greek, EU and international law. This was confirmed in interviews with several sources within Frontex as well as the Greek authorities.’

In July 2022, the ECtHR issued[56] a long awaited, landmark judgment on the case Safi and others v. Greece[57] (the Farmakonisi case) which was supported by GCR, the Refugee Support Aegean with the support of Pro Asyl, the Network of Social Support of Refugees and Immigrants, the Lawyers’ Group for the rights of Refugees and Immigrants and the Hellenic League for Human Rights. The case concerned the sinking of a fishing boat transporting 27 foreign nationals in the Aegean Sea in January 2014, off the island of Farmakonisi, resulting in the death of 11 people. According to the allegations of the applicants, the coastguard vessel was travelling at very high speed in order to push the refugees back towards Turkish waters and this caused the fishing boat to capsize, which the Greek Authorities refuted. The Strasbourg Court found a violation of the right to life, both due to the authorities’ failure to investigate such a significant case responsibly and effectively, and to those actions that they should and could have taken to protect human lives and prevent the tragic incident. The Court also held that Coast Guard officers had inflicted degrading and inhuman treatment against shipwreck survivors that night. The judgment of ECtHR ‘vindicates the victims by awarding compensation from the Greek State and brings to light an issue systematically concealed in public discourse: push backs and systematic deterrence practices which put lives at risk on a daily basis in Evros and the Aegean’.[58]

Forensic Architecture have reported around 1,000 pushback incidents within the last two years on their platform,[59] which allegedly occurred from 2020 to 2022 on the Greek islands,[60] with 103 incidents being recorded in 2022 alone.

By way of illustration, the following pushback incidents at sea were reported in 2022 and documented by Forensic Architecture:

  • An incident that allegedly happened on 26 February 2022 on Lesvos, when 35 asylum seekers on an inflatable boat with no engine were intercepted by the Hellenic Coast Guard vessel ΛΣ 050 and the boat was later found drifting by the Turkish Coast Guard off the coast of Ayvalık.
  • An incident that allegedly happened on 27 February 2022 on Samos, when 12 asylum seekers arrived on the shores of Samos island, at Livadaki village. Later on the same day, they were rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard from an inaccessible shore off Kuşadası, having drifted ashore after being left at sea by the Hellenic Coast Guard.
  • An incident that allegedly happened on 27 February 2022 on Rhodes, when 15 asylum seekers, including children, were found drifting on a rigid-hulled inflatable boat off the coast of Marmaris, Muğla.
  • An incident that allegedly happened on 27 February 2022 on Kos, when 22 asylum seekers, including children, on an inflatable boat with no engine were found drifting by the Turkish Coast Guard off the coast of Datça Muğla.
  • An incident that allegedly happened on 27 February 2022 on Kos, when 18 asylum seekers on an inflatable boat with no engine were found drifting by the Turkish Coast Guard off the coast of Bodrum district.

In relation to pushbacks at sea, Aegean Boat Report’s Annual Report for 2022 outlined that 1,675 boats carrying 52,163 people were apprehended by the Turkish Coast Guard and Police in 2022.[61] According to the report:[62]

‘…In 2022, people arriving has increased 164.8%, compared to 2021. 476 boats made it to the Greek islands, carrying 11,496 people. Boats arriving has increased 158.7% compared to 2021, when 184 boats arrived, carrying 4,342 people. 26,133 people have been pushed back by Greek authorities. In 2022 Aegean Boat Report have registered 988 pushback cases in the Aegean Sea, involving 26,133 children, women and men who tried to reach safety in Europe. Over a third of them, 9,656 people, had already arrived on the Greek Aegean islands, arrested by police, forced back to sea and left drifting in life rafts, illegally deported by the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG), on orders from the Greek government, so far there has been no reaction from the EU on these illegal actions. Almost 60% of all boats picked up by Turkish coast guard in 2022 had been pushed back by Greek authorities. 60% of all pushback cases registered happened around Lesvos and Samos. 15,225 people have been pushed back at sea in 583 rubber boats, engines or petrol removed and left drifting, and in some cases even towed back to Turkish waters by HCG. In 384 registered cases, 9,656 people have been forced into a total of 575 life rafts, and left drifting in the Aegean Sea by the Hellenic Coast Guard, a systematic use of rescue equipment as a deportation tool”.

In January 2023, Aegean Boat Report registered[63] ‘66 pushbacks in the Aegean Sea, performed by the Hellenic coast guard, 1,881 people, children, women and men, have been denied their right to seek asylum, their human rights have been violated by the Greek government’.

In May 2023 the NY Times published a video[64] showing asylum seekers on the Lesvos island, among them young children, being rounded up, taken to sea and abandoned on a raft by the Greek Coast Guard.

European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson have sent a formal request to Greek authorities that this incident be fully and independently investigated.[65]

GCR also represents survivors in two pushback cases, after their arrival on the islands Lesvos and Kos, which are pending before the competent public prosecutors. The first one concerns the case of a group of asylum seekers, who were pushed back to Türkiye upon their landing on Lesvos island and after entering a government-run quarantine facility for refugees in Megala Therma in February 2021; and the second one concerns the kidnapping and illegal forced return of two recognized refugees who were legally residing in the Eastern Aegean Island of Kos. In both cases, the victims of the violent pushback operations – some of them in the first case – managed to re-enter Greece in 2022 and subsequently, filed an official complaint before the Public Prosecutor.[66]

Criminalisation of Human Rights Defenders (HRD) and organisations connected with pushbacks

In May 2022, four organisations were reportedly[67] under criminal investigation for potential involvement with smuggling networks, because they notified authorities about the location of newly arrived migrants and requested that the authorities provide assistance and access to asylum procedures in Greece. In the following months, no investigations took place but it created an increasingly hostile environment in the field of HRDs’ work in Greece and a widespread fear[68] of criminalisation.

Soon after, in June 2022, the UN special rapporteur on human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor, carried out an official country visit to Greece from 13 to 22 June 2022 following an invitation from the Greek government. In the statement on preliminary observations, it was noted that:

‘the nature of cooperation between the Government and civil society, and the overall perception about the role of civil society and human rights defenders in Greece, has undergone a significant shift since 2019. Since then, human rights defenders have found it increasingly difficult to carry out their work, especially in fields that might be considered controversial or geopolitically complicated or sensitive. This is particularly tangible in relation to those who defend the rights of asylum seekers, migrants and refugees, including those providing humanitarian assistance, legal aid, participating in search and rescue operations and documenting pushbacks. While previously human rights defenders in these areas had enjoyed an overall conducive environment for carrying out their activities, the current policy framework, that emphasises ‘security’ over humanitarian assistance, has led to a number of constraints’;

‘[A] sense of pervasive fear […] is felt by a significant segment of human rights defenders, which seems to be a direct result of the criminalisation of migration and their legitimate, peaceful work for the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants’[69]

As highlighted by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders ‘human rights defenders promoting and protecting the rights of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees, including human rights lawyers, humanitarian workers, volunteers and journalists, have been subjected to smear campaigns, a changing regulatory environment, threats and attacks and the misuse of criminal law against them to a shocking degree’’.[70]

The Campaign for Access to Asylum,[71] in an announcement on 5 October 2022, underlined that:

‘The authorities’ systematic use of misinformation regarding “false reports on pushbacks” aims to cover up illegal practices and to target and put pressure on people and organisations that report these incidents’ and added that ‘…The incident in Evros highlighted the problem of pushbacks in a multitude of ways. Systematic propaganda and misinformation about these practices, which often result in the loss of human lives, is aimed at concealing the truth, obscuring the consequences (deaths, drownings, violence, etc.) and, of course, at targeting lawyers, organisations, as well as media and journalists who report these incidents’.

Later, in January 2023, regarding charges against 24 human rights defenders who were helping to rescue migrants in distress at sea in Lesvos in Greece, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants stated that:[72] ‘Trials like this are deeply concerning because they criminalise life-saving work and set a dangerous precedent. Indeed, there has already been a chilling effect, with human rights defenders and humanitarian organisations forced to halt their human rights work in Greece and other EU countries’. On 13 January, the espionage charges were dropped by the Court.[73]

Prosecutions of activists working with migrants continued in 2022 and early 2023, against the founders of the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM)[74] and of the Aegean Boat Report (ABR), who were both subject to investigation and charged by Greek judicial authorities on the island of Kos for ‘forming or joining for profit and by profession a criminal organisation with the purpose of facilitating the entry and stay of third country nationals into Greek territory.”[75]

Legal access to the territory (beyond family reunification)

Legal gateways to enter Greece are not provided to persons in need of international protection, and nor does Greece issue visas on humanitarian grounds. The only exception was in 2021, when Greece accepted 819 Afghan nationals[76] due to ‘the country’s commitment to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghan nationals in danger’.




[1]  UNCHR, Operational Portal, ‘Mediterranean Situation: Greece’, available at:

[2]  Ibid.

[3]  Ibid.

[4]  Greece Sea arrivals Dashboard – December 2022, available at:

[5]  Statistics available at:

[6]     UNCHR, Operational Portal, ‘Mediterranean Situation: Greece’, available at:

[7]  Available at:

[8]  Ministry of Public Order, Press release on 7 January 2023, available at:

[9]  The Guardian ‘Many dead in two separate boat disasters off Greek coast, At least 22 people dead, with many more missing, in two separate incidents hundreds of miles apart’, 6 October 2022, available at:

[10]  UNHCR, IOM, Latest shipwreck tragedies in Greek seas underscore the need for enhanced safe pathways, Joint Press Release, 6 Oct 2022, available at:

[11]   Ibid.

[12] European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, ECRI report on Greece (sixth monitoring cycle), 28 June 2022, available at:, 36: comment by the Greek authorities ‘In particular, the National Transparency Authority -that enjoys institutional autonomy- has been designated as the competent authority to investigate allegations of incidents involving the breach of fundamental rights at the borders and so far, its investigation has not resulted in the substantiation of any alleged violations. The National Transparency Authority operates in parallel to the Ombudsman and the Judiciary system that have also, within their respective mandates, reviewed cases related to border protection and fundamental rights. Moreover, an internal disciplinary mechanism is well in place within the Security Forces to ensure that complaints for violations of fundamental rights allegedly committed by its personnel are adequately investigated’.

[13]  Greek Council for Refugees input for the forthcoming report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants with respect to human rights violations at international borders: trends, prevention and accountability, 28 February 2022, available at:

[14]  UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, ‘Statement on preliminary observations and recommendations following official visit to Greece’, 22 June 2022, See also UNHCR, OHCHR, ENNHRI, Ten points to guide the establishment of an independent and effective national border monitoring mechanism in Greece, 9 September 2021, available at: ‘Ensure that those entrusted with monitoring fundamental rights at borders have thorough institutional experience in international human rights law, EU fundamental rights law and in fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Greek Constitution and national legislation as well as on evolving international, European and national case law interpreting such law. Institutional experience in asylum, border management and return as well as practical experience in human rights monitoring and in working with law enforcement actors are additional assets which facilitate a successful functioning of the monitoring mechanism.’

[15]  See full report in Greek at:

[16]  Lighthouse reports, ‘Frontex, the EU Pushback Agency: Frontex’s internal database suggests the EU border agency is involved in illegal pushbacks on a massive scale’, 6 May 2022, available at:

[17] NTA, Investigation Report OM3/4, available at:, 39-44.

[18]  RSA et al., Systemic breaches of the rule of law and of the EU asylum acquis at Greece’s land and sea borders, June 2022, available at:

[19] Rule of Law Backsliding Continues in Greece, Joint Civil Society Submission to the European Commission on the 2023 Rule of Law Report, January 2023, available at:, 27: ‘Due to NTA’s own failure to correctly anonymise data in the report, the personal details of persons interviewed as part of the investigation were made public. Out of 65 persons interviewed for the purposes of the investigation, the Authority spoke to 21 locals working mostly in shipping and fisheries or members of local business associations, ten religious leaders, only one lawyer and one NGO offering medical services, zero victims and zero representatives of UN agencies, the Ombudsman or the National Commission for Human Rights. 29 interviewees were Greek officials’.

[20]  DRC, Protecting Rights at Borders: Beaten, punished and pushed back, 27 January 2023, available at:

[21] The Fundamental Rights Officer at the MoMA was appointed, 6 December 2022, MoMA, available at:

[22]  Articles 49 and 50 of law 4960/2022 (GG A’145); DRC, Protecting Rights at Borders: Beaten, punished and pushed back, 27 January 2023, available at:

[23]  As it was described in art. 50 par 3 in L. 4960/2022.

[24] ‘The Ombudsman’s work in this field is accompanied by the maximum guarantees of personal and functional independence according to the Constitution, thus constituting the ‘strong and timeless institution with increased guarantees of reliability and transparency in the examination of complaints,’ elements that I understand are sought after by the Ministry. Therefore, his parallel participation in a collective body of the administration with the same object raises concerns regarding the possibility of limiting his autonomous, independent role, his competences, or at least a blurring/overlap of competences’. Available at:’s-reservations-regarding-his-participation-in-committees-of-the-ministry-of-migration-and-asylum

[25]  GNCHR, letter on 21 October 2022, available in Greek at:

[26] Rule of Law Backsliding Continues in Greece, Joint Civil Society Submission to the European Commission on the 2023 Rule of Law Report, January 2023, available at:, 37.

[27]  GNCHR, Recording Mechanism of Informal Forced Returns, Interim Report, January 2023, available at:

[28]  Greek Council for Refugees (GCR), Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR), Network for Children’s Rights, Medical Intervention, METAdrasi – ACTION FOR MIGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT, Transgender Support Association, RSA, HIAS Greece, Legal Centre Lesvos, Danish Refugee Council Greece (DRC): see

[29]  UNHCR, News Comment: UNHCR warns of increasing violence and human rights violations at European borders, 21 February 2022, available at:

[30]  Committee on Budgetary Control, Report on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency for the financial year 2020 (2021/2146(DEC)), A9-0110/2022, 6 April 2022, available at:, 11.

[31]  The Guardian, ‘EU censures border agency after reports of human rights abuses in Greece’, 4 May 2022, available at:

[32] ECRE, ‘Frontex: MEPs Vote to Refuse Approval of Budget, Commission ‘Shocked’ by OLAF Report but Confident in Management Board as Agency Calls Misconduct ‘Practices of the Past’ NGOs Finds No Difference’, 21 October 2022, available at:

[33] The Guardian, ‘Head of EU border agency Frontex resigns amid criticisms’, 29 April 2022, available at: Full OLAF’s report published by Der Spiegel available at:

[34] Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Report on means to address the human rights impact of pushbacks of migrants on land and sea, 12 May 2021, available at:, para. 55.

[35] Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, available at:, para 32.

[36]  UNHCR, News Comment: UNHCR warns of increasing violence and human rights violations at European borders, 21 February 2022, available at:

[37]  IOM, IOM Concerned about Increasing Deaths on Greece-Türkiye Border, 18 February 2022, available at:

[38]  ‘…The Greek police are using foreigners as ‘slaves’ to forcibly return asylum seekers to Türkiye, In recent years there have been numerous accounts from the victims, as well as reports by human rights organisations and the media, stating that the men driving these boats speak Arabic or Farsi, indicating they are not from Greece. A months-long joint investigation with The Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and ARD Report München has for the first time identified six of these men – who call themselves slaves– interviewed them and located the police stations where they were held. Some of the slaves, who are kept locked up between operations, were forcibly recruited themselves after crossing the border but others were lured there by smugglers working with a gangmaster who is hosted in a container located in the carpark of a Greek police station. In return for their ‘work’ they received papers allowing them to stay in Greece for 25 days’: see Giorgos Christides et al, ‘Greek Police Coerce Refugees to Commit Illegal Pushbacks’, 30 June 2022, Der Spiegel, available at: and Lighthouse reports, WE WERE SLAVES, 28 June 2022, available at:

[39] Black Book of Pushbacks, December 2022, available at:, 14.

[40] Ibid.

[41]  GCR’s Information Note on interventions and on interim measures granted by the ECtHR in cases regarding pushbacks, Updated on 19 April 2023, available at:

[42] GCR, At Europe’s Borders: Between Impunity And Criminalization, 2 March 2023, available at:

[43] About the islet’s territorial status, Ministry of Defence stated in written that the islet is divided by a Greek- Turkish border line, thus creating a Greek and a Turkish part, Official Letter-Response of the Greek Minister of Defense to the Hellenic Parliament, Answer on the issue of ‘sovereignty on an islet in Evros’, 7 October 2022, and GCR Press Release, Δελτίο τύπου σε συνέχεια και της διευκρίνισης του συνοριακού καθεστώτος της νησίδας στον Έβρο, 12 October 2022, available in Greek:

[44] UNHCR News on Twitter, 13 August 2022, available at:

[45] Article of the Director of GCR publishes in ‘Εποχή’ on 08 January 2023, available at: and

[46] See GCR report at Europe’s Borders: Between Impunity and Criminalization, March 2023, available at:

[47] Human Rights Watch World Report 2023, events of 2022, full report available at: , 261.

[48] Ibid.

[49] ‘Greece: Authorities Ignore ECtHR Interim Measures and Distress Calls as Turkiye Increase Return Efforts of Refugees, Systematic Detention of Asylum Seekers Persists17th June 2022 | News’, available at:; Joint Press Release of 16 civil society organisations Asylum Campaign (Καμπάνια για το Άσυλο), 5 October 2022, available at:

[50]  RACIST CRIMES WATCH – ΠΑΡΑΤΗΡΗΤΗΡΙΟ ΡΑΤΣΙΣΤΙΚΩΝ ΕΓΚΛΗΜΑΤΩΝ, ‘Ξεκίνησαν 32 Ευρωδίκες Ελλάδας για επαναπροωθήσεις – Εκκωφαντική αποσιώπηση από ΜΜΕ’ 23 December 2021, available (in Greek) at:

[51]  Decision available (in French) at: and and GCR Press release available (in Greek) at:

[52] ELENA; ‘ECtHR: Greece’s ineffective investigation into an asylum seeker’s removal to Türkiye violated Article 3’, 26 January 2023, available at:

[53]  DER SPIEGEL, together with Lighthouse Reports, the Swiss media outlets SRF and Republik and the French newspaper Le Monde spent months researching Frontex’s involvement in the Greek pushbacks. Following a request under the European Freedom of Information Act, the researchers succeeded in gaining access to the internal Frontex database and matching entries with photos and videos of pushback operations. The research reveals the full extent of Frontex support for Greek pushbacks in the Aegean Sea for the first time, available at:

[54] Lighthouse reports, FRONTEX, THE EU PUSHBACK AGENCY, Frontex’s internal database suggests the EU border agency is involved in illegal pushbacks on a massive scale, MAY 6, 2022, available at:

[55] Ibid.

[56]  Eva Cossé, ‘European Court Slams Greece Over Deadly Migrant Pushback Inquiry on Pushbacks Is Urgently Needed’, 8 July 2022, available at: .

[57] ECtHR, Safi and others v. Greece, application no 5418/15, 7 July 2022, available at:

[58] Press Conference: Judgement from the European Court of Human Rights in Safi and Others v Greece (Farmakonisi), Written on 07/07/2022 with a short summary of the case ,available at: and Vindication by the ECHR for Farmakonisi: Press conference on Monday, 11 July 2022, available at:

[59]  FA, platform available at:

[60] Article (in Greek) published on 15.7.2022 in ‘Ethnos’, Πασχάλης Γαγάνης, Έρευνα Forensic Architecture: Πάνω από 1.000 επαναπροωθήσεις στο Αιγαίο σε 2 χρόνια – «Ξυλοδαρμοί, κλοπές ακόμα και ρίψη στη θάλασσα με χειροπέδες», available (in Greek) at:

[61]  Aegean Boat Report, Annual Report 2022, available at:

[62] Ibid.

[63] 36 Life Rafts In January. Aegean Boat Report, ‘Pushbacks continues unhindered in Greece despite warning from Brussels’ 4 February 2023, available at:

[64] The New York Times, ‘Greece Says It Doesn’t Ditch Migrants at Sea. It Was Caught in the Act’, Video Showing Migrants Abandoned at Sea, 19 May 2023, available at:

[65] Ylva Johansson on Twitter, see:

[66] For more details on the cases, See GCR, at Europe’s Borders: Between Impunity and Criminalization, March 2023, available at:

[67]  Among others, News.IT, ‘Evros: Investigation into the activities of NGOs and their connection with illegal immigrant networks’, 29 May 2022, Available at (Greek),

[68]  ‘I also note the sense of pervasive fear that is felt by a significant segment of human rights defenders, which seems to be a direct result of the criminalization of migration and their legitimate, peaceful work for the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants’: UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, ‘Statement on preliminary observations and recommendations following official visit to Greece’, 22 June 2022, available at:

[69]  Ibid.

[70]  Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor – Visit to Greece (A/HRC/52/29/Add.1), available at:, para. 114.

[71]  ‘It is the Greek Government’s responsibility to immediately put a stop to informal forced returns (pushbacks): They endanger human lives and breach the state’s international obligations’ in Joint Press Release of 16 civil society organisations Asylum Campaign (Καμπάνια για το Άσυλο), 5 October 2022, available at:

[72] ‘My concerns were compounded by accounts I received during my country visit to Greece in June 2022 detailing how fear of criminalisation has spread among human rights defenders working in the field of migration in the country. As I underlined in my preliminary observations following the visit, solidarity should never be punished and compassion should never be put on trial’.: UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, ‘Human rights defenders on trial in Greece’, published on 09 January 2023, available at:

[73] France24, Greek court drops spying charges against migrant rescuers, January 2023, available at:

[74] Asylum Campaign (Καμπάνια για το Άσυλο) Press Release, 21 December 2022 (Update on the ongoing persecution of Human Rights Defender Panagiotis Dimitras). The attempt to silence human rights defenders continues. What remains to be decided are its accompanying measures, available at:

[75] Human Rights Watch, ‘Greece: Migrant Rights Defenders Face Charges, End Judicial Harassment of Migrant Rights Activists; Respect Asylum Obligations’, January 26, 2023, available at:

[76] MoMA, Press release, 23 November 2021, available at:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation