“you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land”
Warsan Shire, Home
For refugees and asylum seekers attempting to enter Europe, sea crossings are a common yet highly dangerous practice. These crossings have also been increasingly criminalized with individuals facing charges for seeking asylum, as is the case for The Samos2 and for life-saving efforts, as in the Free Humanitarians case.
In Greece, this has forced organizations conducting Search and Rescue operations and human rights monitoring on the border to largely end their work in these roles resulting in increased illegal practices including the now-common tactic of ‘pushbacks’, where dinghies are pushed back away from Europe. Violent pushback tactics are both illegal and dangerous.
European and international law establishes that every human being has the fundamental right to seek asylum based on the principle of non-refoulement, namely that every person must not be returned to a country where he or she faces risks of persecution, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment. Furthermore, every person has the right to claim asylum regardless of how they have entered the country, be it legally or irregularly.