EU lawmaker calls for proceedings against Greece over irregular migrant pushbacks

EU lawmaker calls for proceedings against Greece over irregular migrant pushbacks

'Cruel images' of Greek coast guard forces allegedly abandoning irregular migrants at sea show 'systematic failure,' says Othmar Karas

By Timo Kirez

GENEVA (AA) — A European lawmaker on Thursday called for EU action against member Greece over the country's illegal pushbacks of irregular migrants trying to cross the Aegean Sea.

"The cruel images from the EU's external borders show: Illegal pushbacks are not isolated cases, but a systematic failure," Othmar Karas, who is also the first vice president of the European Parliament, told Austrian news agency APA.

The Austrian lawmaker appealed in a letter to the bloc's Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson for "consistent steps against illegal pushbacks at the EU's external borders." He said border guards were systematically violating internationally agreed rules.

"I call on the European Commission to act with full force against these human rights offenders," he said.

According to Karas, Greece's behavior is in violation of the Geneva Refugee Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights, and EU law.

"Infringement proceedings are needed against all those who systematically violate our law and values with illegal pushbacks," he added.

Karas has called for an extraordinary meeting of the relevant EU parliamentary committee to address the matter.

He also called for EU external border management to be transferred to the European level, adding that border protection should be "financed, controlled and organized by the EU."

The New York Times published video footage on Friday provided by Austrian human rights activist Fayad Mulla.

The footage allegedly shows Greek coast guard forces abandoning irregular migrants on a raft. The people were reportedly rescued by Turkish authorities.

In an interview with CNN, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he takes the incident "very seriously" and had ordered his government to investigate it.

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