Greece’s independent authority for transparency says an in-depth investigation it carried out has found no basis for reports that Greek authorities have illegally turned back asylum-seekers entering the country from Turkey
The National Transparency Authority said in a statement that the allegations by the Lighthouse Reports non-profit organization last year concerning “informal obligatory returns” of asylum-seekers by masked men “were not confirmed.”
“Upon completion of the examination process and the laboratory examination of the relevant material, no supporting evidence emerged,” the statement said.
Greece’s eastern Aegean islands are a major destination for people fleeing conflict or poverty in the Middle East, Africa or Asia who are seeking a better life in the EU. About a million made the crossing during Europe’s migration crisis in 2015.
Under a 2016 agreement with the EU, Turkey — Greece’s historic regional rival — has committed to limiting the flows of migrants trying to reach Greek shores. Nevertheless, thousands of people still risk the often dangerous crossing every year, using small unseaworthy boats provided by smuggling rings. Fatal accidents are frequent.