Push-backs and International Law Violations at Greek Borders

In May 2023, The New York Times published a video documenting the forced expulsion of a group of migrants from the island of Lesbos, at the hands of what appears to be a group of men wearing black balaclavas. EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson commented on the video by demanding Greece to promptly investigate the matter, while Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis defended his government, claiming that Greek migration policies are “tough but fair”, thus implicitly acknowledging the role of Greek police officers in the push-back. This post builds on the footage unearthed by The New York Times, seizing the opportunity to address the Greek authorities’ long-standing practice of pushing-back asylum-seekers, both at sea and on land. The international law violations entailed by push-backs and informal returns are illustrated by reference to the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. In addition, the contribution highlights the fundamental watchdog role fulfilled by NGOs and civil society organizations when witnessing and documenting human rights violations at European external borders.

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Francesca Romana Partipilo è dottoranda di ricerca presso la Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna e visiting researcher presso l'Università di Utrecht. Si è laureata in Giurisprudenza all'Università di Trento, ha conseguito un master in Diritti Umani presso la Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, ed ha lavorato come ricercatrice presso il British Institute of International and Comparative Law (Londra). Ha svolto attività di volontariato in un campo profughi in Grecia e presso il British Refugee Council, a Londra. La sua ricerca si colloca all'intersezione tra il diritto dei rifugiati, il diritto del mare e il diritto internazionale dei diritti umani.