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  • Writer's pictureHRLP Board

Over 4,000 asylum seekers unlawfully detained on Samos

Together with 21 other NGOs, HRLP raises the alarm as the authorities are unable to effectively manage the increase in arrivals since July.

Since July 2023, the Aegean islands have experienced a sharp increase in arriving asylum seekers crossing by boat from Türkiye. Between 1 July and 31 August 2023, over 4,000 people were brought to the Closed Controlled Access Centres (CCACs) on Samos and Lesvos and placed into unlawful detention while awaiting registration of their asylum requests.

The practice of automatic and de facto detention of asylum seekers violates EU law and the European Convention on Human Rights. Detention should be a measure of last resort, yet people are detained for extended periods without proper justification.

Asylum seekers on Samos and Lesvos endure inhumane & degrading treatment, including poor material conditions, poor food, and lack of medical care.

On Samos, hundreds of people have been restricted to the “Temporary Accommodation Zones” of the CCAC, the sections of the CCAC that were previously used for Covid-19 quarantine. These enclosed zones are composed of accommodation containers only and are surrounded by layers of barbed wire fences. Police provide 24/7 surveillance and residents are only permitted to exit for urgent medical needs or for interviews with the authorities.

Mobile phones are taken by the police upon arrival for 7-10 days, resulting in a mass violation of applicants’ privacy and leaving new arrivals with no possibility to reach out for medical or legal support to non-governmental actors operating outside the CCAC. No doctor is permanently present in Samos CCAC to provide medical care to people who have just arrived, resulting in hundreds of asylum seekers being unable to access medical care, including psychological support.

22 organizations, urgently call for an immediate end to the unlawful practice of systematically de facto detaining people upon arrival while awaiting the registration of their asylum requests. The unpreparedness of authorities for the increase in arrivals cannot justify the mass violation of individuals’ right to liberty and freedom from inhuman treatment.

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