VATHY, February 23rd, 2023 – In their report out today, the Samos-based organisation I Have Rights demonstrates that the restrictions placed on the liberty of people on the move in the Samos Closed Controlled Access Centre (CCAC) result in the CCAC being a site of de facto detention. Through comparing the restrictions of liberty in the CCAC with Greek and European legal standards, the report concludes that such restrictions are unlawful.
In fact, the blanket de facto detention of newly arrived asylum seekers to the CCAC is the basis of current infringement decisions against Greece, released this January by the European Commission, who has determined that this practice is in violation of EU law.
The report demonstrates that the deprivation of liberty in the CCAC amounts to de facto detention and violates the rights of people on the move, in particular the right to liberty and security as enshrined in Article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights, says Ella Dodd, Legal Coordinator at I Have Rights.
The organisation also warns that children, including unaccompanied children, are de facto detained in the CCAC. For over a year, while quarantine was enforced, children were detained with adults, in breach of multiple safeguards enshrined in European and Greek law.
The report presents a timeline of restriction of liberty in the CCAC including the detention of children and the systematic de facto detention of all new arrivals. I Have Rights demonstrates that the detention of people seeking protection is in violation of international law.
The report finds that the hostile infrastructure and extensive measures of control accumulate in the CCAC and potentially re-traumatize people seeking international protection. The right to asylum is guaranteed in EU law: however, the practices of bordering we see on Samos appear to prioritise the disruption of mobility over effective access to the asylum system, says Ellen Allde, a Leverhulme Doctoral Scholar based out of the School of Law at Queen Mary University of London and contributor to the report.
I Have Rights also expresses their concern about unaccompanied children who are required to remain 22 hours a day in the so-called “safe-zone”, a section of the centre surrounded by a further layer of fencing and barbed wire.
We hope the report provides an answer to why people on the move and human rights defenders have long described the CCAC as “prison-like”. The CCAC’s infrastructure includes intensive surveillance, barbed wire fences, watch towers, the police, private security companies as well as the restriction and deprivation of liberty including the detention of children. In this way, the Samos CCAC mimics the dehumanising architecture of prisons, Dodd concludes.
The organisation demands the closure of CCACs and the accommodation of people seeking safety in dignified community-based housing schemes that respect their freedom of movement and allow them access to services and support. They also call on the European Commission to continue with infringement proceedings against Greece for its unlawful practice of detaining asylum seekers in the CCAC.