The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg is examining the large-scale collective expulsions of refugees from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to the border camp Idomeni in Greece in March 2016. To this end, the ECtHR communicated the complaints of eight applicants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to the Macedonian government.
The two women and six men (names withheld for protection) crossed the Greek-Macedonian border alongside approximately 1,500 other refugees on 14 March 2016. The Macedonian military apprehended them and forced them back to Greece through improvised holes in the newly constructed border fence. The claimants had no possibility to ask for asylum or to take legal action against their summary deportation from FYROM. These push-backs carried out without any consideration of individual circumstances violate Article 4 Protocol 4 (Prohibition of Collective Expulsion) and Article 13 (Right to an Effective Remedy) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The refugees had submitted individual complaints in September 2016 with the legal support of ECCHR and PRO ASYL. The Macedonian government must now submit a written response. Civil society organisations and universities are also permitted to intervene with legal observations.
ECCHR sees these legal proceedings as an important step in the struggle against push-backs at European borders and for refugees' fundamental "right to have rights." The applicants are represented by ECCHR's partner lawyer Carsten Gericke from Hamburg.