Updates from Samos


Dear supporters of I Have Rights,


It has been a few months since the new year started and the situation has been critical. Samos experienced arrival rates much higher than the ones of previous winters, with over six hundred recorded in the first three months of 2023 alone. These numbers do not reflect real arrival rates to the island: the high rates of pushbacks means real arrival rates to the island and its surrounding territorial waters are likely much higher.

Number of sea arrivals to Samos between December 12, 2022 and March 26, 2023

In January, organisations that usually work inside the Closed Controlled Access Centre (CCAC) lost access to the structure upon the modification of the criterias of entry. I Have Rights’s work was not affected as we were already working outside the prison-like structure, but the sudden policy change left nearly 1,000 residents without access to a doctor in the CCAC.


Early in March, the contract with the interpreters of The European Agency for Asylum expired, leading to all asylum interviews being postponed. This major structural flaw has built on existing tensions and sparked protests from asylum seekers in the CCAC. Some asylum seekers have even expressed their willingness to forgo their right to an interpreter, hoping to be interviewed and be able to leave the island sooner.

Our work

  • Legal team: 

In 2023 so far the legal team met with 111 new beneficiaries from  14 countries. Almost half of them are from Sierra Leone.

  • Advocacy team:

Our advocacy team has been involved in 17 projects, some of which were joint projects with the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN). For example, in February we published a report on the de facto detention of people seeking safety on Samos in the EU-funded CCAC. It was released together with two other reports, one from the Thessaloniki based Mobile Info Team (MIT), and one from BVMN, all focused on detention of people on the move in Greece. All three reports were then presented to Members of the European Parliament in Brussels. We will present with them in an upcoming webinar on the topic of detention in Europe, details of which you can find below.

  • Strategic litigation task force

Great news from this month: the European Court of Human Rights has condemned the living conditions of an asylum seeker in a Greek hotspot island as degrading and inhumane treatment. The case is a big win for the brave woman who dared to sue Greece for forcing her to live in such conditions. I Have Right, alongside RLCB and PROASYL supported this case. This decision is one example of Greece’s systematic disregard of basic human rights of people on the move. It is also the first judgement in a series of cases currently pending at the Court that challenge the inhuman and degrading treatment of asylum seekers in Greek hotspot islands.

Our team

Since the new year started, we have welcomed two new caseworkers, Noa from Germany and Coline, from France. Réka, who was a caseworker last year, came back as our new Team Coordinator. We also welcomed Agathe, a new advocacy team member.

What happens next?

We have many advocacy and litigation projects that are in the planning  stage, and we are very excited to share them with you soon!


But don’t worry, there are also things we can share with you already:


  • Due to funding from Heidehof Stiftung, we will begin a specialised project that is focused on the legal support and defence of the rights of survivors of human trafficking.
  • On May 2nd at 6PM CET, Ella, our project coordinator, will present our work monitoring detention in the CCAC during a panel discussion hosted by BVMN and MIT on detention in Europe. To register: click here
  • The legal and advocacy team are collecting testimonies on violence against people on the move in detention, as part of a wider project with BVMN that focuses on violence against people on the move in Greece.

Thank you for reading our newsletter and for your support! We will see you next quarter for another update.