Press Release

Samos, Greece – I Have Rights (IHR) and The Human Rights Legal Project (HRLP) has submitted a joint report to the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) on the violations of the Istanbul Convention in Greece. The report highlights several issues related to Greece’s compliance with the Convention.

By raising growing concerns about the treatment of migrants and refugees in Greece, particularly in the context of pushbacks and border control measures, the report highlights that 23% of the beneficiaries of IHR reported experiencing at least one pushback from Greece, which often includes severe beatings and sexual violence. In particular, the organisations outline how women allege to have been subjected to sexual abuse, including unnecessary intimate searches during pushbacks, often by male officers. IHR presented Serious Incident Reports (SIR), internal Frontex documents, received by the organisation through a Freedom of Information Request, which detail potential human rights violations and pushbacks in the Aegean recorded by Frontex officers.

In the first SIR, a Frontex officer reports dangerous maneuvers of the HCG. The second is from an asylum seeker who reports to a Fundamental Right Officer (FRO), a Frontex employee tasked with ensuring Frontex’s respect for human rights, the three pushbacks from Greece he experienced before arriving to Samos. In the third, a Frontex officer reports witnessing the HCG potentially forcing a boat of people on the move back into Turkish waters.

Concerns are also raised regarding the rights of survivors of human trafficking on Samos. 12% of IHR’s beneficiaries are survivors of human trafficking with 95% of these persons being women who were trafficked to Iran and Turkey from Cameroon, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, mostly for forced prostitution. A large percentage of these women arrive in Greece pregnant, having been raped during their forced prostitution. Failure by the Greek authorities to recognise victims of human trafficking and to provide adequate assistance led to failure to report victims to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) and for survivors to access their rights. 

Overall, the joint communication emphasises the need for GREVIO to hold Greece accountable for its commitments under the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. The organisations hope that the information provided will give GREVIO useful leads to engage meaningfully with the Greek authorities during the examination of their report. 

Read the submission here