Three People Deported Despite Ongoing Asylum Procedure

Increasing pressure to blindly carry out deportations: The Greek government deliberately ignores legal guarantees and procedures.

On 24th of January, Greek authorities and FRONTEX attempted to deport ten people from Lesvos to Dikili, Turkey.

They were brought with a police bus to the port of Mytilene, Lesvos, and transported in handcuffs on the chartered deportation ferry ‘Esref Jale’. However, the ferry remained in the port for two more hours because there was an ongoing struggle about the legality of the deportation of several people. Eventually, one person was guided out of the ferry and brought back to the pre-removal prison in Moria.

Lawyers and activists were struggling to stop the deportation of three other men from Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Two lawyers had filed an application of annulment at the court to challenge the rejection of the asylum application and suspensive measures in order to stop their deportation. However, the court had not made a decision about the application yet. Therefore, the three people were initially removed from the deportation list twice but due to political pressure by the ministry to increase the number of deportations, they were put back on the list. While the lawyers were assured the day before the deportation that their clients would be saved from deportation, they were again added to the list on 24th of January and brought first to the police station and then on the deportation ferry.

One of the lawyers was present at the police station and at the port during the deportation procedure. He informed the police authorities about the pending court procedure, after which they called the chief of the Mytilene police to the port. In addition, the lawyer went to the court of Mytilene and informed the Ombudsman’s office. Despite all this, all nine people were eventually deported. The police initially took all of them out of the ferry but quickly brought them back on again and deported them to Turkey.

The Greek law contains the clause that both the application for annulment and even the application for suspension do not have an automatic suspensive effect. This leads to the absurd situation that the right to appeal will be denied entirely, if there is enough political pressure to carry out the deportation before the court considers the application. It is not the first time that those incidents happen, as reported e.g. in October 2019 in eight cases of deportation. Lately authorities increasingly bypass legal procedures.

The Nea Dimokratia government is determined to deport migrants from Greece, no matter if they violate the law and send people back to life threatening situations. Since the deportees then vanish in Turkish prisons and are often quickly deported to their countries of origin, there are no means to challenge these actions.