Human Rights Watch is accusing the EU of subjecting migrants captured along Greece’s border with Turkey to inhuman and abusive conditions. The organisation claims that EU’s Frontex, which is responsible for external border control, kept migrants in overcrowded detention centres.
Spokesperson for Human Rights Watch, Reed Brody, said the EU has a responsibility to make sure migrants handed over are treated well: “If Frontex is going to be involved in capturing and transferring migrants to Greek custody, then it needs to put pressure on Greece to raise the standards. Or it need to take those migrants into their own countries and hold them in their own countries. It can not just say ‘here, take these people’ and then just close its eyes to the filthy and degrading conditions in which these people are kept.”
Human Rights Watch’s 62 page report criticises the way migrants held in the Evros region of Greece were treated in late 2010.
Although rounding up the migrants was a Frontex operation, the Commission insists Greece was in charge of detention. Michele Cercone, EU Commission spokesperson, said looking after the migrants was not up to the EU: “Neither Frontex nor the officers who are deployed have operational control of what is happening in Greece. This responsibility remains fully in the hands of the Greek authorities.”
Changes to the rules governing Frontex operations are expected to be approved by EU justice ministers at a meeting in Brussels this week.