On the 10th November this year, Greens/EFA MEPs visited the Amygdaleza detention center in Attica, Greece. Under EU law, detention should be considered a last resort and decided on an individual and case-by-case basis, when other measures have been exhausted. In Greece however, it seems that the Commission and Greek government view being in an irregular migrant as a crime and detention as a necessary consequence. This letter was written by the MEPs to Greek Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection, Nikos Dendias and Commissioner for Home affairs Cecilia Malmström giving a brief overview of their concerns in the hope of commencing a fruitful dialogue.
The Amygdaleza detention centre, our MEPs were told, is one of the best in Greece. However, the substandard conditions are unacceptable for an EU member state. Not only are the conditions inhumane, but our group encountered detained unaccompanied minors at the centre. The detention of children for reasons relating to immigration can never be justified and represents an abject failure to protect children’s human rights. Every child seeking asylum or that is in a situation of irregular migration, should be treated, first and foremost as a child. The EU should be achieving the best protective standards worldwide, rather than solidifying existing bad practices.
Furthermore, when speaking to the irregular migrants, we heard complaints related to insufficient access to a lawyer, insufficient knowledge of their own cases, insufficient access to medical help, food and washing opportunities, and lack of contact with family and outside world.
We urge both the Greek government and the Commission to act. All asylum applications should be the responsibility of the Asylum Service, not the Police. The Commission must push for greater internal EU solidarity and Member States must aid with the reception of migrants, not just with financial and technical assistance.
Refugees cannot help but enter the EU illegally. Refugees should be allowed to choose in which country to apply for asylum based on family, language, culture, or community ties with that country. No human being is illegal.
Find out more about our call for action:
Signed by Greens/EFA Co-President Rebecca Harms and Green MEPs Franziska Keller (Migration spokesperson) and Nikos Chrysogelos