Athens, Greece, 8 April 2022 — On the 29th of March, the Greek National Transparency Authority (EAD) issued a press release announcing the conclusion of a 3-month investigation on the management of migration flows in Greek territory and relevant reports about informal forced returns (pushbacks) by international media .
The EAD’s investigation was launched at the request of the Minister of Migration and Asylum, following the publication of an 8-month investigation by Lighthouse Reports and nine more European media platforms, which documented a “system” of illegal forced returns in Greece and Croatia and the direct involvement of ‘’special units’’ from the security forces, assigned with the task of “chasing asylum applicants away from the E.U.” .
The issue of pushbacks in Greece has caused multiple interventions by the European Commission, which in September 2021, decided to withhold the release of a € 15,83 million in emergency funding to Greece and until the country sets up an independent border monitoring mechanism to report human rights violations at the country’s borders . Furthermore, recently, the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control (CONT) decided by a qualified majority to postpone the decision on the European Border and Coast Guard Agency’s (Frontex) 2020 accounts. CONT’s decision was bases, inter alia, on the Agency’s failure to create a serious incidents reporting mechanism. It was also based on the fact that the Agency’s management was aware but deliberately avoided to report violations of fundamental rights at the EU’s external borders and specifically in Greece, as it was also highlighted in the European Anti-Fraud Office’s (OLAF) report, presented before CONT on the 28th of February .
In this context, it is deeply concerning that the EAD decided to announce the findings of its investigation through a press release, thus leaving a large number of questions unanswered, such as whether and to what extent it took into consideration the 540 cases of illegal pushbacks recorded by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Greece ; the range of actors that were approached for the purposes of the investigation; as well as the broader methodology used to corroborate its findings. On the contrary, the EAD conducted parts of the investigation with “the support of the Forensic Science Division (FSD)”, a Division of the Hellenic Police, whose officers, like the coast guards, are the alleged perpetrators of the illegal pushbacks at the borders and in Greek territory. Furthermore, it should also be noted that dozens of illegal pushback cases against Greece are pending before the European Court of Human Rights and the Human Rights Committee of the UN .
Consequently, the EAD has failed to provide essential information as required by an independent authority, that could have shed light on the issue of pushbacks in Greece. It is also worth noting that the EAD is not a constitutionally established independent authority  as it does not meet the 10 points that were shared by UN institutions and the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI) with the Greek Government to guide the establishment of an independent and effective national border mechanism to monitor fundamental rights violations at the Greek borders . Furthermore, as it is highlighted in a recent study , the EAD does not have the required specialisation on border monitoring issues.
Therefore, since the EAD does not meet the criteria to conduct an independent investigation of pushback allegations, we request the publication of the full report of its investigation in order to review the Authority’s methodology and conclusions, ensure the accountability of the implicated actors and preserve the public’s trust towards national authorities .
Action for Women
Europe Must Act
Fenix Humanitarian Legal Aid
Greek Council for Refugees (GCR)
Greek Forum of Migrants
Greek Forum of Refugees
Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR)
Human Rights Legal Project
I HAVE RIGHTS (IHR)
International Rescue Committee Hellas (IRC)
Irida Women’s Center
Legal Centre Lesvos
Melissa Network of Migrant Women in Greece
Mobile Info Team
Refugee Legal Support (RLS)
Refugee Support Aegean (RSA)
Symbiosis-School of Political Studies in Greece, Council of Europe Network
Still I Rise
The HOME Project
 NTA, “Completion of the investigation in regard with the managementof migration flows towards the Greek territory as well as the content of publication concerned with informal forced returns (pushbacks)” [in Greek], 29 March 2022: https://bit.ly/3J2vv62.
European Parliament, “MEPs withhold discharge of EU border control agency Frontex’ accounts”, 31 March 2022: https://bit.ly/3J8ZdGD and “EP committee asks for part of Frontex budget to be frozen”, 27 September 2021: https://bit.ly/38uSgTF; Marquardt, Question for written answer E-000861/2022 to the Commission, https://bit.ly/3uTGLfV; EfSyn, “They are hiding the findings on Frontex”, 2 April 2022, available (Greek): https://bit.ly/3j9J7C6; Der Spiegel, “Pressure Growing on Frontex Chief from Pushbacks Investigation”, 21 March 2022: https://bit.ly/37jdGT7.
 ECRE, 28 January 2022, Greece: Pushbacks by Sea to Go Before ECtHR, Access to Procedures Restricted on Land, Rule of Law Concerns in Asylum System Persist, Commission Challenges Legality of the Safe Third Country Concept, available at: https://bit.ly/3uSWI6d.
Hellenic Parliament, Institutions and Transparency Committee: Members of the Committee Hearing on the proposed, by the Cabinet, Candidate for the Governor of National Transparency Authority Two-Year Appointment, 6 September 2019 [in Greek], available at: https://bit.ly/3sHofbg.
According to the relevant case-law of the ECtHR on the elements of an effective investigation,, "[t]here must be a sufficient element of public scrutiny of the investigation or its results to secure accountability in practice as well as in theory, maintain public confidence in the authorities’ adherence to the rule of law and prevent any appearance of collusion in or tolerance of unlawful acts" [Anguelova v. Bulgaria, no. 38361/97, § 140, ECHR 2002-IV]