Greece’s coastguard has been charged with the drowning of at least two migrants amid new allegations of unlawful pushbacks.
A Cameroonian asylum seeker has accused Greek authorities of throwing him into the sea last September off the island of Samos.
The man – identified as Ibrahim – said two other men were also thrown overboard during a deportation operation to Turkey.
He told European media that the Greek coastguard beat them “with their fists” before “throwing them overboard” without a dinghy or a life jacket.
The bodies of the other two men – from Cameroon and Ivory Coast – were later recovered by Turkish authorities and boats.
Ibrahim – who has since applied for asylum in Greece – said he survived after managing to swim to Turkey’s Aegean coast.
He told reporters he boarded a dinghy alongside 35 other people in Turkey, before arriving on the eastern Greek island.
There, several members of the group suffered violence at the hands of the Greek coast guard and had their mobile phones and money confiscated, according to several sources.
The three men were then forced into a boat before being thrown into the sea, Ibrahim said.
The International Organization for Migration issued a statement on Friday, saying it was “alarmed by the increase in migrant deaths and continued reports of pushbacks at the EU border between Greece and Turkey”.
NGOs have repeatedly accused Greece of mistreatment in migrant camps, illegal actions on its border with Turkey and denial of migrants’ right to asylum procedures.
Under European and international human rights law, people cannot be returned to a country where they would risk being tortured, punished or harmed.
Athens has denied allegations of illegal pushbacks and called the allegations “fake news” and “Turkish propaganda”.
“In the absence of action from the Turkish authorities, the Greek Coast Guard continues to save the lives of thousands of men, women and children at sea every year,” said the Greek Minister for Migration and asylum, Notis Mitarachi.
“Between 2015 and 2021, the Hellenic Coastguard rescued more than 230,000 third-country nationals in danger at sea,” it said in a statement. declaration.
“Greece protects the external borders of the European Union, in full compliance with international law and in full respect of the Charter of Fundamental Rights”.
Nineteen migrants were found frozen to death near the Greek border earlier this monthleading Ankara to blame Greece for the tragedy.
“Greece is not against legal immigration,” Notis Mitarachi said. “We are against traffickers and all those who exploit human suffering, whether for economic or political ends.