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EU executive pushes Greece to launch investigation into pushback reports

file photo: pictures of the year
FILE PHOTO: A man holds his three sons as migrants from Afghanistan arrive on a dinghy in Lesbos REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis/File Photo

The European Union’s executive on Friday urged Greece to launch an investigation into reports about illegal migrant pushbacks, while praising Croatia for pledging to start an inquiry.

“I must say that the Croatian government takes this very seriously, they are going to immediately investigate”, the EU’s Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said at an EU meeting in Luxembourg.

“My discussion with the Greek minister was different, and I have made clear that I will not accept that Greece do not do investigations on this,” she added.

“We have to protect our external borders, but we also have to protect our values, the rule of law and fundamental rights. And this is absolutely possible to do together.”

Johansson met the interior ministers of Croatia and Greece on Thursday, after German media outlets Der Spiegel and ARD documented what they said were Greek and Croatian officials carrying out illegal and sometimes violent migrant pushbacks.

The reports said German media had video footage of 11 pushbacks by Croatian police into Bosnia and also evidence, including footage, of the Greek coast guard forcing migrants back into the Aegean Sea.

Reuters has not independently verified the allegations.

The migration ministry in Athens denied reports of migrant pushbacks and said it operated within international law to protect Greek and EU borders.

Under international law, people have a right to claim asylum and it is forbidden to send potential asylum-seekers back to where their lives or well-being might be in danger.

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