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Guernica 37 Press Statement

LONDON, 5 May 2020 – Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, instructed by The National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (Syrian National Coalition), Files a Communication with UN High Commisioner for Human Rights, UN Special Procedures Mandate Holders, the Secretary General of the European Union and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, over the alleged ill-treatment of Syrian Refugees and Migrants by the Greek Authorities.

Guernica 37, having been instructed by the Syrian National Coalition, has today filed a Communication with the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights; Ms. Michelle Bachelet, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants; Mr. Felipe González Morales, the UN UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; Mr. Nils Melzer, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights of The European Union; Mr Eamon Gilmore, the Council of Europe Special Representative on Migration and Refugees; Mr. Drahoslav Stefanek, and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Dunja Mijatovic.

The Communications sets out in detail the alleged violations committed by Greek Authorities towards Syrian migrants and refugees attempting to cross from Turkey into Greece during late February and early March 2020 that constitutes ill-treatment in breach of Article 3 of the ECHR.

Guernica 37 has interviewed a number Syrian individuals who have been subjected to unjustified, excessibe and wholly disproportionate use of force by the Greek authorities, which resulted in serious injury. They provided detailed accounts as to the circumstances in which they were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, such as denying them access to food and water, and confiscating their personal belongings. Further, there are documented incidents involving the stripping of a victim of his clothing. The accounts provided by the individuals interviewed, illustrate examples of a deeply concerning wider practice that has been documented covered by a number of independent sources, including acts of ill-treatment towards women and children.

Over the past ten years, the world has been a spectator to the mass human rights violations being perpetrated against the Syrian civilian population who have been subjected to unprecedented suffering and persecution in a systematic matter, from which they have sought refuge. More than half a million Syrians have been killed, over a million severely injured, and more than 12 million have been forced to leave their homes. Syrians fleeing to Europe should not be subjected to any further breaches of their human rights.

Greece has an obligation under national and international law to secure and protect the rights of all persons within its territory without discrimination. There are a number of international treaties and conventions to which Greece is a State Party, that requires it to respect the rights of those seeking refuge, to hold those who committed such acts to account, provide reparations, and to prevent the re occurrence of similar acts in the future.

It is an established principle of international human rights law that in addition to the negative obligation not to commit acts in breach of rights contained in the various treaties to which it is a State Party, the overriding principle extends a positive obligation on States to protect individuals and secure rights within their jurisdiction. We must remind Greece that States are required to uphold these basic and fundamental principles and that extends to the duty on the Greek authorities to safeguard the rights of those persons seeking refuge.


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