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European Commission urged to probe Greek Coastguard actions causing alleged migrant deaths

June 20, 2024 at 4:45 pm

Members of European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex, from Germany and Greece patrol along the border fence at the Bulgaria-Turkey border near the village of Kapitan Andreevo on February 29, 2024. [NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP via Getty Images]

A group of 33 European lawmakers have urged the European Commission (EC) to investigate Greek Coastguard actions that led to alleged migrant deaths in the Aegean Sea, Anadolu Agency reports.

A documentary aired on Monday by the British public broadcaster, BBC, brought to light that violations by the coastguard may have been responsible for at least 43 migrant deaths in the Aegean Sea between May 2020 and May 2023.

“These allegations come on top of mounting credible reports of serious and persistent violations of international and EU law by the Greek Coastguard, including the New York Times investigation of 19 May 2023, as well as the reports of the Greek Coastguard’s suspected role in the sinking of the “Adriana” ship off the coast of Pylos on 14 June 2023, which caused the tragic death of over 600 people,” the lawmakers said in a joint letter to the EC.

They added that the growing evidence of systematic violations – linking the Greek Coastguard’s actions directly to the migrant deaths – may suggest it is a coordinated and deliberate policy of deterrence against arrivals and should be highly alarming for the EC and Frontex.

“This must be addressed with the utmost urgency and diligence. The lack of accountability thus far has allowed this alleged misconduct to continue and reach unprecedented levels of brutality,” the lawmakers said.

They also urged European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, to launch an independent investigation into the actions of the Greek Coastguard, whether EU-funded vessels were complicit in these potential violations, and suspend EU funding if such violations are found.

“We also urge the EU Commission to actively pursue and cooperate in the setting up of an independent commission of inquiry to assess the causes for the large numbers of deaths in the Mediterranean and to address the existing accountability gaps.

“This alleged misconduct by the Greek Coastguard goes against the very foundations of our Union and we are sure these revelations shake your moral and legal conscience as much as they do ours. We look forward to hearing what actions will be undertaken as a result of these horrifying revelations,” the lawmakers said.

READ: Greek opposition urges probe after BBC claims coastguard push-backs led to migrant deaths