Migrant rights defenders in Greece treated like criminals, says UN expert

ATHENS (Reuters) – Human rights defenders in Greece, notably these documenting the therapy of migrants and refugees, face smear campaigns and are handled like criminals, U.N. Particular Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor stated on Wednesday.

Lawlor was presenting her preliminary findings on the finish of a 10-day go to to Greece the place she met ministers in Athens and likewise visited the islands of Lesbos, Chios and Samos which have been on the frontline of Europe’s migration disaster in 2015 and 2016.

“I’m involved in regards to the rising criminalisation of humanitarian help in Greece. Solidarity ought to by no means be punished and compassion ought to by no means be placed on trial,” Lawlor stated.

“On the tip of the spear are prosecutions, the place acts of solidarity are reinterpreted as felony exercise, particularly the crime of individuals smuggling,” she added.

Lawlor stated human rights defenders had discovered it more and more troublesome to hold out their work since 2019, particularly in fields that is likely to be thought of “controversial or geopolitically sophisticated or delicate”.

“The detrimental influence of such circumstances is multiplied by smear campaigns perpetuating this false picture of defenders,” Lawlor stated.

This coverage created a “local weather of worry and insecurity” that was bolstered by components of the authorized framework in addition to statements from high-ranking authorities representatives attacking the work of NGOs, she added.

Responding to Lawlor, the migration ministry stated Greece “totally respects the motion of organized or particular person human rights defenders energetic within the area of migration and asylum”.

Greece has additionally repeatedly denied accusations of so-called pushbacks of asylum-seekers, saying it intercepts boats at sea to guard its borders.

(Reporting by Karolina Tagaris; Enhancing by Nick Macfie)

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