Tag Archive for 'HRW'

HRW: Bulgaria: Asylum Seekers Summarily Expelled

(Sofia) – Bulgaria has embarked on a “Containment Plan” to reduce the number of asylum seekers in the country, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The plan has been carried out in part by summarily pushing back Syrians, Afghans, and others as they irregularly cross the border from Turkey.

The 76-page report, “‘Containment Plan’: Bulgaria’s Pushbacks and Detention of Syrian and other Asylum Seekers and Migrants,” documents how in recent months Bulgarian border police, often using excessive force, have summarily returned people who appear to be asylum seekers to Turkey. The people have been forced back across the border without proper procedures and with no opportunity to lodge asylum claims. Bulgaria should end summary expulsions at the Turkish border, stop the excessive use of force by border guards, and improve the treatment of detainees and conditions of detention in police stations and migrant detention centers.Refugee camp near the village of Harmanly, Bulgaria - 17 Oct 201
Continue reading ‘HRW: Bulgaria: Asylum Seekers Summarily Expelled’

IPS News: Syrian Refugees Illegally Pushed Back

by Apostolis Fotiadis

ATHENS, Nov 20 2013 (IPS) – Human rights groups have circulated evidence in the last few days indicating that Greece, Italy and Egypt illegally detain and push back Syrian refugees.

The reports were issued by the German refugee aid organisation Pro Asyl, Medici per i Diritti Umani – MEDU (Doctors for Human Rights – Italy), the Italian human rights lawyers Association for Legal Studies on Migration (ASGI), and Human Rights Watch
Continue reading ‘IPS News: Syrian Refugees Illegally Pushed Back’

“Turned away” HRW reports about illegal push-backs of minors from the Italian Sea Ports to Greece

Read the whole report here

HRW releases briefing paper “Hidden Emergency: Migrant deaths in the Mediterranean”

Hidden Emergency
Migrant deaths in the Mediterranean

by Human Rights Watch
AUGUST 16, 2012

The mothers of young Tunisian men who disappeared without a trace after setting off in early 2011 on the dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean are still searching for their loved ones. In meetings with Tunisian and Italian officials, they are asking for help and for the truth. As one mother who travelled to Italy explained, “If I can’t find my own son, I will find at least one son. I want to be told what happened to them.” They hope their sons arrived safely, but the reality is that they may be among the thousands who have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean.
Continue reading ‘HRW releases briefing paper “Hidden Emergency: Migrant deaths in the Mediterranean”’

Greece’s Epidemic of Racist Attacks

Article from the New York Times by EVA COSSE
Published: January 26, 2012

When I tell people in Athens, my hometown, that I am doing research on racist violence in Greece, I am met with disbelief. There’s no problem, they say, and even if things sometimes happen it’s a temporary blip linked to the economic crisis.

The Greek government seems to share their view. It recorded only two hate crimes in the whole country in 2009 and one in 2008. More recent figures are not available.

I experienced the reality firsthand a week ago. I was interviewing Razia, an Afghan single mother, in the small apartment she shares with her three children in Aghios Panteleimonas square in Athens about the numerous attacks on her home since she moved in a year and a half earlier. Other Afghan migrants were visiting her the day I was there.

Suddenly masked thugs, who had been gathering outside, threw heavy objects at the front door, cracking the thick glass. During the few minutes the attack lasted, I could see the silhouettes of the attackers. People panicked and backed away from the windows, as the apartment is on the ground floor of the building, while Razia gathered up her scared children.

When the police came, they told Razia that she would have to come to the station to file an official complaint. She did. But even though the police station is less than 300 meters from her home, the apartment was attacked again on the following two nights. On the second night, someone sprayed cooking gas inside the apartment through the cracks of the broken window and tried unsuccessfully to set it alight.

“They wanted to burn us alive,” Razia told me later. “The windows and the door were broken.” She added that “we recognized” the man who did it. “He lives in a building next to this place and he always has a dog with him.”

She said that she identified one of the attackers to the officers who responded to her call, but that the police took no action. That same night she and her children moved out.

Greek residents in the neighborhood confirmed accounts from migrants that a group of vigilantes wearing hoods and masks gather nightly in Aghios Panteleimonas square at around 9 o’clock. Everyone knows who they are.

The family’s terrifying experience is part of wider epidemic of such violence in the Greek capital. Migrants and asylum seekers whom I and my colleagues from Human Rights Watch interviewed spoke of virtual no-go areas in Athens after dark because of the risk of attacks by vigilante groups. An association of Afghans in Greece provides newly arrived Afghan migrants with a map marked in red for areas to avoid.

The Pakistani Community of Greece, an association of immigrants, documented attacks on 60 Pakistani men in the first three months of 2011. Far-right extremists rampaged through immigrant neighborhoods in May, leaving at least 25 people hospitalized for stab wounds or severe beatings.

In September, a 24-year-old asylum seeker from Afghanistan was assaulted in Athens. Three of his attackers are set to stand trial, in the first such prosecution in Greece in years.

While Razia and her children are safe for the moment, the attacks in the area around her former apartment have continued. Two Afghan men were attacked in the same area by a group of about 15 people and had to seek hospital treatment. Thugs have also attacked the Internet café next door to Razia’s apartment that is owned by an asylum seeker from Afghanistan. One time, someone sprayed “Foreigners Out” in big blue letters on the café shutters while another time, the glass storefront was smashed.

Since everyone in the neighborhood seems to know about this group, why is it that the police officers at the station 300 meters away don’t prevent the attacks or catch the attackers? In part the answer lies with ordinary Greeks. The people responsible for the violence depend on the “passive participation” of those who tolerate it. In part the answer lies with the government, which needs to acknowledge Greece’s problem with racist violence openly and make combating it a political priority.

In short, the police and prosecutors have to do more than simply take reports. The attackers will back off only in the face of rapid police response, diligent investigations and successful prosecutions of attackers. Razia and her children deserve nothing less.

Eva Cosse works for the Europe and Central Asia Division of Human Rights Watch. Continue reading ‘Greece’s Epidemic of Racist Attacks’

Greece: Rare Hate Crime Trial Opens

Human Rights Watch says: Comprehensive Action Needed to Tackle Wave of Racist Violence
DECEMBER 12, 2011

The prosecution of this vicious attack sends an important message, but it is the tip of the iceberg. If the authorities responded properly to racist violence, this trial would be one of many instead of a rarity.
Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher
Link (english)
Continue reading ‘Greece: Rare Hate Crime Trial Opens’