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To counter injustice with legal interventions – this is the aim and daily work of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights.

ECCHR is an independent, non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to enforcing civil and human rights worldwide. It was founded in 2007 by Wolfgang Kaleck and other international human rights lawyers to protect and enforce the rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as other human rights declarations and national constitutions, through legal means.

Together with those affected and partners worldwide, ECCHR uses legal means to end impunity for those responsible for torture, war crimes, sexual and gender-based violence, corporate exploitation and fortressed borders.

01.02.2022

Bringing Greek push-backs to justice

Woman refugee files complaint exposing secret state policy

Severely beaten, secretly detained and forcibly returned from Greece, Parvin A’s digital evidence exposes Greece’s covert and systematic push-back practice. With the support of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), HumanRights360 and Forensic Architecture (FA), she submitted a complaint against Greece to the UN Human Rights Committee for multiple violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“I promised myself during one of the push-backs that when I get to Europe, I will go to court and get some justice. Because these push-backs and this violence must stop. We are human beings. I want to help get back some respect for human rights,” said Parvin A.

Parvin A, 30 years old, fled Iran due to gender-based persecution in 2017 and was pushed back six times from Greece across the Evros river and Aegean Sea during 2020. Intentionally denied any rights or legal safeguards, Parvin A was subjected to gratuitous physical violence at the hands of Greek officers. She was detained incommunicado in filthy conditions and repeatedly, summarily expelled.

“This case shows how push-backs are now normalized. They are routine, coordinated, and function on state resources. We are yet to see an effective Greek investigation into this. It is time for accountability,” said Evgenia Kouniaki, lawyer at HumanRights360.

Remarkably, Parvin A managed to preserve video, audio and live location evidence from inside and outside detention in Greek border guard stations. FA supported the case by analyzing this evidence and visually re-constructing her experiences.

“This is one of the first times we are seeing footage from inside the cells of border guard stations in Greece. Confronted with such strong evidence, the government cannot simply continue to ignore and deny that this is condoned state practice,” said FA’s Stefanos Levidis.

Human rights institutions and the media have documented this longstanding, systematic push-back policy for more than two decades. Read more in ECCHR’s own analysis.

“European institutions have failed to challenge this systematic practice. The clear evidence in this case and others calls for an immediate reaction from the EU,” said Hanaa Hakiki, senior legal advisor at ECCHR.

This complaint is part of a series of legal steps to address systematic human rights violations at the EU’s external borders.

cases

Greece

Bringing Greek pushbacks to justice

Pushbacks

Severely beaten, secretly detained and forcibly returned from Greece six times, Parvin A filed a complaint at the UN Human Rights Committee for multiple violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Her case exposes the systematic Greek practice of pushbacks owing to digital evidence she was able to preserve from inside detention and at the border which was analyzed as part of a Forensic Architecture investigation.

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