FROMissionReportEvros_final_redacted.pdf

Dieses Dokument ist Teil der Anfrage „FRO Visits in Evros Region

Warsaw, 05.02.2019 MISSION REPORT Name of staff on mission: Place of mission: Greece Dates of mission: 14-18 January 2019 Location: Orestiada, Alexandropoulis, Greece Reason for mission: Field visit to Evros, Greece 1. Objectives of the mission I. II. 2. To familiarise with the Agency’s activities under JO Flexible Operational Activities 2018 Land on Border Surveillance and JO Focal Points Land 2018, Greece. Follow up on the Serious Incident Report (SIR) with regard to allegations on fundamental rights violations – pushbacks at the Greek/Turkish border. Time schedule of mission Monday 14/01/2019, Warsaw – Thessaloniki- Orestiada (Day 1) Tuesday 15/01/2019, Orestiada (Day 2) 9.30 – 11.00 Meeting with Local Coordination Centre (LCC) Orestiada 12.00 – 15.00 Visit to the Reception and Identification Centre and Detention Centre in Fylakio, meeting with UNHCR and NGOs on the spot 16.00 Transfer to Alexandropoulis Wednesday 16/01/2019, Alexandropoulis (Day 3) 9.00-10.00 Meeting with LCC Evros 10.00- 11.00 Meeting with Chief Police of the Police Directorate in Alexandropoulis 12.00 – 16.00 Working day at LCC 17.00 – 18.00 Meeting with FRA 19.00 – 21.00 Dinner with FSO and FX TMs Thursday 17/01/2019, Alexandropoulis (Day 4) 9.30 – 10.00 Video call with Greek Refugee Council 10.00 – 11.00 Meeting with FRA and LCC Alexandropoulis 12.00 – 14.00 Meeting with FX patrol and Border Control Unit (BCU) in Soufli 14.00 - 16.00 Visit to Border Crossing Point (BCP) in Kipi 17.00 – 19.00 Meeting with FRA and UNHCR Friday 18/01/2019 Alexandropoulis – Thessaloniki- Warsaw (Day 5) European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union www.frontex.europa.eu Plac Europejski 6, 00-844 Warsaw, Poland Tel. +48 22 205 95 00 Fax +48 22 205 95 01
INTERNAL USE ONLY MISSION REPORT 3. Report Day 2 Meeting with the Greek Police (Deputy of BCU Orestiada and the Deputy Director of Police Directorate) - - - - - The main nationalities of migrants crossing the border currently: Turkish, Syrians, and Afghans. There is a fast asylum procedure for the Turkish nationals. 9 000 irregular migrants were intercepted in Orestiada area in 2018, including 50 unaccompanied minors (for half of them the relatives have been found). The public prosecutor is the guardian of the unaccompanied minors. There is around 20 km of border line, including 12,5 land border plus 8 km of river border. There are 5 dog handlers in Orestiada (no Frontex ones). Currently there are two patrols in Orestiada and seven patrols in Alexandroupoli (60% patrolling in Alexandroupoli, 40% in Orestiada). There are 450 border guards actively and currently working in the region (about 150 deployed to the field each day). There are monthly meetings with Turkish authorities, in which Frontex participates. The cooperation with the Turkish authorities was considered as good and satisfactory. No common patrols are organised. Complaints form distributed by the national authorities is available in 18 languages. There are 13 deployment periods, at each there is a briefing when the complaint mechanism is explained. Visit in detention center (pre-removal centre) (PROKEKA) - - - - At the day of the visit, there were 64 detainees in the center (27 Turkish, 22 Pakistanis, 7 Egyptians, 6 Afghans, 1 Algerian, 1 Iraqis - 57 men, 6 women, 1 child). According to GRC, migrants stay in the detention center for 2-3 days and then they go to another camp. The capacity is 374 persons. FRO had a possibility to see the conditions of detention and considers them to be inadequate (no heating, very windy inside, people in the jackets and caps), dirty, small cells, no separation, cold water). There is an NGO Metadrasi who come to the detention centre, main focus on children. UAM can stay only in RIC, they can stay in the detention centre for couple of hours only, maximum one day, according to the detention centre representatives. FX debriefing activities are done in the detention centre (the container is situated in the yard of the detention centre). Visit in the Reception and Identification Center (RIC), meeting with the Deputy Director of the camp - - - - - At the date of the visit there were 240 migrants, Pakistanis – 40%, Afghans – 20 % (out of them 100 UAMs, mainly 16-17 years old, one child of 11 years old). There are 3 interpreters from EASO working in the RIC. Two NGOs are present: Human Rights 360 (focusing mainly on UAMs) and Arsis (founded by UNHCR). There are 2 guardians in place working with about 100 children. They are two schools, for which the Arsis provided with two teachers. There are 6 doctors provided by the Greek Army and 3 nurses. Screening and fingerprinting is done at RIC. Debriefing interviews are conducted mainly in the pre- removal (detention centre) and FX is not conducting interviews in RIC, according to RIC deputy director. Meeting with the UNHCR (1) - - - - - Ref: Mainly Turkish citizens arriving to Evros. About 100 unaccompanied minors. According to the UNHCR there were around 50 fatalities in 2018, also in car accidents (25 people). There are 4 Arabic, 1 Farsi, 1 Urdu interpreters available in RIC. According to the UNHCR, in the pre-RIC detention – in the police detention – there are cases when people are detained for a month. One of the problems is length of asylum procedures which last approximately 2 years. As informed by UNHCR there is a new modus operandi to arrive by sea through Alexandropoulis (started in September 2018). On the day of the visit there were 51 persons who arrived by sea, mainly Afghani nationals, families, also with small babies. 2/6
INTERNAL USE ONLY MISSION REPORT Day 3 Meeting with the Chief Commander of the National Police in Alexandropoulis - - - - - As regards the referral of vulnerable persons, a prosecutor decides which authority is going to deal with the person/where a person should be placed, based on the police report/assessment. Trends and cooperation: increased irregular entries at maritime borders due to networks and modus operandi they follow, sea borders are facing the pressure. There is a general increase of migratory flows noted for years in the region. Cooperation with Turkey is not considered to be satisfactory. There are bilateral meetings with the Turkish side, which resumed in November 2018 after a break in communication between two sides. According to the Chief Police the Turkish side could do more in terms of migration management (to stop the flows). Regarding push backs, the Commander denied existence of such practices of the Greek officers deployed in the region. According to him some investigations are ongoing within Hellenic police and local prosecutor about possible existence of some para-military groups in the Evros region. He was not able to give more details and referred us to the central level (write to NFPOC/relevant Ministry) and ask about the investigation so they can inquiry at the central level). According to the Chief Police, Turkish media articles are not reliable sources for initiating SIRs. Meeting with the Coordinator of LLC Evros - - - - - - - There are two directorates (Alexandropoulis, Orestiada), as well as two prosecutors in the Evros region. There are three BCUs: in Ferres, Tycheri, Soufli. BCU in Soufli has the capacity for 70 persons. BCU in Ferres – capacity for 35 persons (detention center). Transportation to the detention centers is provided by the Hellenic Police. BCU Ferres is the most affected unit due to the migratory pressure. As regards statistics, in the course of last two years an increase in 161.5 % of irregular entries has been noted (2018 – 6170 apprehensions, 2017 - 2351). In 2019 – already 140 entries via land border + 72 via sea (as of the date of the meeting). 15.156 illegal entries in 2018 in the whole Evros region and 5547 in 2017. Nationalities: 2018 and 2017, majority of Turkish, then Syrians, Iraqis, Pakistanis, Afghans, Bangladeshis, few person from Eritrea; by sea – majority of Afghans. 634 migrants apprehended by Coast Guard in 2018. 2018 – facilitators detected: 41 SYR, 23 – BGR, 17 Greeks, TUR – 14, PAK – 14, Iraqis – 5. Readmission: up to 50 in 2018, via BCP Kippi. Referring to fatalities, 8 dead bodies found in the river in 2018. The Police Directorate collects gender and age disaggregated data however they don’t include it in the overall statistics to be shared with Frontex. FX deployed officers do not refer vulnerable persons, it is done by host authority – police together with the prosecutor. In the Evros region FX is not involved in identification process, only border surveillance activities under JO FOA. According to LCC FX staff is patrolling in Zone A (close to the border), which was denied by FX deployed officers. Frontex is supporting Aspida (national operation) with equipment (cars). Regarding SIR involving debriefer, according to the LCC coordinator debriefer did not communicate the issue with national authorities, but directly sent the SIR via official channels to Frontex. With reference to the reported SIR on push-backs, the LCC Coordinator denied the existence of such practice. He highlighted the responsibility of border surveillance put on the Hellenic Border Police. He mentioned the ongoing investigation on paramilitary groups potentially activated in the region. LCC showed FRO representatives a presentation which is delivered to newly deployed officers during the national briefing. There was no information referral mechanism. Day 4 Call with Greek Refugee Council (GRC) representative - Ref: GRC provides legal aid in a detention centre and RIC in Fylakio, as well as Soufli and Ferres police detention facilities; focus on women and children (for UAMs – ARSIS and 360 Human Rights) as well as other vulnerable persons; in Soufli detention people can stay up to three days and move to Fylakio for registration. 3/6
INTERNAL USE ONLY MISSION REPORT - - According to GRC the last two-three months less people apply for asylum due to disappointment by the situation in the country and decide to go further West. GRC does litigation in courts, one case regards a woman from Somalia on asylum application, second regards a minor – age assessment; collected testimonies of over 50 persons who experienced pushbacks (joint report with ARSIS and HR360). Meeting with LCC/FRA - - - - - - - The procedure after apprehension of a migrant and first screening of nationality is initiated by the police and next the prosecutor decides on further steps, i.a. in which detention centre a person is going to be placed, detention depends on the time of apprehension, however it takes usually approximately one day (unless this is Sunday or night than it is longer); there are two detention facilities under the competence of the Alexandropoulis directorate, with capacity of around 30 places in Soufli and 70 in Ferres. Currently there is a very low migratory pressure therefore no persons in Soufli. BCU Ferres is busier, however FRO was not able to visit it, reportedly due to absence of the BCU commander. Low number of readmissions (which is done at BCP Kipi), for instance 3 persons to be readmitted to Turkey this week, one person last week, not more than 50 persons in total in January 2019, readmission from Kipi is not supported by FX. Increase of sea arrivals, 37 persons intercepted the day before and transferred to Fylakio RIC In addition to RIC in Fylakio there are detention centres in Xanti, Drama According to the Hellenic police people registered in RIC cannot and are not sent back to the detention centres, as there is no need for it and it is not possible from procedural point of view 8-10 bodies drown in Evros river found by police in 2018, 3 migrant women stabbed in Orestiada – investigation on-going however LCC Coordinator in Alexandropoulis is not aware about details FRA question on pushbacks: according to LCC no such incidents are taking place, there is an internal investigation ongoing at the central level, LCC is not aware of details, there is also an investigation on para-military groups which reportedly operate in the area and can be responsible for pushbacks. Visit to the border, meeting with FX patrol - FRO visited the border in Soufli area, right at the river bank, was able to see Turkish territory. At the spot one Hellenic police patrol was waiting in the area together with FX patrol (2 TMs – BSOs and 1 Greek officer). FX TM told FRO in presence of LCC that it is the first time during his deployments (regular deployments since 2010) he is patrolling this area (1st line). Normally they are sent by Hellenic police to 2nd and 3rd line (mountainous and forest area, towers). According to LCC it was due to low migratory pressure in the area and is decided based on operational needs. FRO went with FX patrol to Soufli BCU. FRO was again told that FX patrols are almost never deployed to 1st line close to the river. Visit to BCU Soufli - FRO met with BCU Commander and visited the BCU as well as the backyard. Inside the BCU there are detention cells in which apprehended persons are kept. They usually stay up to three days before they are transferred to RIC. All cells were empty during FRO visit. The conditions were poor but decent, according to BCU Commander the renovation was done in 2012 (reportedly before that in 2010, the conditions were much worse, according to FX TM). However there was no hot water and no heating. The radiators could be seen but there were switched off. FRO was told that they switch them on when the migrants arrive. In the rest of the building the heating was on and it was warm inside. BCU Commander confirmed that currently there is a very low pressure and BCU Ferres is busier in this regard. In the yard there was a container where debriefing interviews take place. According BCU Commander last interview done by FX debriefer was in December 2018. Inside there were no FX materials, such as posters, leaflets, no FX logos. In the backyard of BCU building FRO noticed two boats (one flat and another one pumped). The pumped boat was of green color, held on the car’s trailer, it had no police sign. First FRO was told the boats in the yard were confiscated from the facilitators. When asked about the pumped one, FRO was told by BCU Commander that it was used for surveillance activities on the river by Hellenic police (no FX staff involved). Visit to BCP Kipi - Ref: FRO visited Border Crossing Point (BCP) in Kipi in order to get familiar with work of host authorities as well as Frontex experts deployed to the border crossing point within JO FPs Land 2018; 4/6
INTERNAL USE ONLY MISSION REPORT - - - - - The migratory pressure at the time of visit was very low, FRO saw a few lorries and a touristic bus coming from Turkey; FRO took part in a customs check of a lorry coming from Turkey, with the use of heart-beat detector, no humans were detected According to BCP representative irregular migrants spend approximately one-two hours before they are handed over to the police officers No female officers are present at the BCP, in case of body search of a woman, female custom officer is conducting the check, according to the BCP official Information (poster, booklets) on complaint mechanism available only in the room of FX deployed officers. Meeting with UNHCR (2) and FRA - - - - - - 3. - - - - 4. Exchange of information and observation based on the meetings and visits in the region. Update and information on the activities of the UNHCR in the region: regular presence of UNHCR in the region since 2011. As regards the push-backs practices in the region, already in 2013 the UNHCR started to collect relevant information and gathered hundreds of testimonies since then. On 8 June 2017, UNHCR issued the official statement in this regard (based on the Greek Ombudsman investigation). The representative of UNHCR addressed the concern of push-backs done after registration procedure. According to the UNHCR Frontex screeners were never present in the RIC, only officers trained by FX. There is a Protection Working Group composed of all NGOs operating in Evros region – UNHCR, IOM, MSF, Metadrasi, ARSIS, Defense Children National, Red Cross, ISRSIs – serving all as the inter-agency forum. The forum meets every last Friday of the month. UNHCR and FRA expressed the need to join efforts in order to find the solution and agree on further steps to be taken in order to guarantee safe access to the Greek territory and elimination of illegal push-back practice. Main observations FX TMs both in Orestiada and Alexandropoulis are not deployed, in principle, to the 1st line of border surveillance, even if it happens they spend very little time and they are directed to more remote areas; Difficulty to evidence pushback practices remain despite collected testimonies by different international organizations and national NGOs, reports in open sources, etc.; according to the Hellenic officials this is not taking place in the operational areas and no official investigation has been launched; Lack of clarity among the LCC representatives as regards the SIR procedure – role of debriefer while receiving information on alleged violation of fundamental rights; lack of safeguards/protection for a victim as well as person submitting SIR in order to prevent possible retaliation measures; No information on the complaint mechanism accessible/visible in FX operational areas; booklets available in a storage in the LCC Alexandropoulis presented by FSO, no materials available in the debriefing container in BCU Soufli. FRO Recommendations 1. FRO considers EBCGT members should be deployed and present in all FX operational areas which would allow to comprehensively support host authorities in border management related activities in full compliance with fundamental rights, as set by Article 34 of EBCG regulation. Proposed actions to be taken: raise the issue with relevant FX operational units, senior management and with host MS. 2. FRO will continue to follow up on allegations of pushback practices at the Greek-Turkish border, including on investigations within SIR procedure as well as external actors; FRO considers that Text removed based on Article 4(3) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 Ref: 5/6
INTERNAL USE ONLY MISSION REPORT Proposed actions: follow up with Hellenic authorities on SIRs, joint statements/actions with other organisations like UNHCR and FRA, specific report on push-backs to MB, letter of concern from ED to Hellenic authorities. 3. FRO recommends to improve SIR procedure in order to ensure its effectiveness and awareness among EBCGT members, as well as host MS authorities. Proposed actions to be taken: review the latest version of draft SOP on SIRs regarding the reporting channel; raise the matter with FX relevant units; capacity building and raising awareness activities (campaign, briefings, trainings, direct contact, field visits, etc.) 4. Ref: FRO considers effective implementation of the complaints mechanism with regard to pro-active provision and visibility of information as well as access to the complaint materials, distribution and availability of complaint forms, etc. 6/6