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EU alarmed by Greece's use of sound cannons at border to deter asylum seekers

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Police officer Dimitris Bistinas operates a long range acoustic device attached on a police vehicle along the Greek-Turkish border near the town of Feres May 21, 2021.
Police officer Dimitris Bistinas operates a long range acoustic device attached on a police vehicle along the Greek-Turkish border near the town of Feres May 21, 2021.   -   Copyright  AP Photo
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The European Union has expressed concerns over Greece's reported use of a sound cannon to deter migrants from approaching its borders.

European commission spokesperson Adalbert Jahnz said on Thursday that the EU's executive branch had "noted with concern reports in the media" on the use of long range acoustic devices (LRADs) at Greece's border with Turkey.

According to The Associated Press (AP), Jahnz said the European Commission would be "seeking information from Athens" about the use of the LRADs.

He also suggested that use of the technology could potentially be in contravention of the EU's laws on fundamental rights.

While he said that it is up to EU-member countries to decide how to manage their borders, their approach "should conform to European fundamental rights, including the right to dignity".

“Measures must be proportionate and respect fundamental rights, including asylum rights and the principle of non-refoulement,” he said, referring to a fundamental principle of international law barring countries from returning asylum seekers to countries where they would face likely danger.

Jahnz statements come after AP reported on Monday that Greek border officials were using sound cannons to emit loud blasts from an armored truck towards Greece's border with Turkey.

The long-range device can reportedly emit a blast matching the volume of a jet engine.

'Dangerous, experimental and discriminatory'

In a statement on Thursday, the EU-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor condemned the use of LRADs at the border, branding it "dangerous, experimental and discriminatory".

The human rights monitor warned that the use of such devices to deter asylum seekers from crossing risks turning the EU into a "'digital fortress' that inhumanely keeps people on the move afraid and away".

"The removal of migrants without giving them the opportunity to apply for asylum is illegal under both European and international law," it noted.

The Euro-Med Monitor called on Greece and Europe to "immediately adopt and strengthen human rights-based equality and non-discrimination approaches to the use of digital border technologies, including human rights impact assessments as a prerequisite for their deployment, in line with international standards".

It also called on EU leaders to ensure that the right to seek asylum is protected.

Euronews has contacted the European Commission and Greece's migration ministry for comment.