Press Release: Presentation of the Recording Mechanism of Incidents of Informal Forced Returns and its first Interim Report
The Greek National Commission for Human Rights (GNCHR) as the National Human Rights Institution in Greece (NHRI) and the independent advisory body to the Greek State for the protection and promotion of human rights, presented the Recording Mechanism of Incidents of Informal Forced Returns at a Press Conference held at its premises on Tuesday 24 January at 11.30 am. During the Conference the Recording Mechanism's mode of operation and methodology was presented, as well as a number of findings, recorded in its first Interim Report.
The Recording Mechanism was founded by a decision of the Plenary of the GNCHR in September 2021 as the response of the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) following two major findings: a) the absence of an official and effective data collection mechanism of informal forced returns; and b) the need for coordination among organisations who record on their own initiative any alleged incidents of informal forced returns from persons who recourse to their services.
The Recording Mechanism consists of Civil Society organisations that are active in the field, offering pro bono legal, medical, psychosocial, or other services to third country nationals. Moreover, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Office in Greece within the framework of its mandate, contributes its expertise and technical support to the Recording Mechanism, as a co-operating Agency.
The Recording Mechanism aims to monitor, record and report incidents of informal forced returns of third country nationals from Greece to other countries, through personal interviews with the alleged victims and through a common, transparent, and scientific recording methodology. It seeks to promote and consolidate respect of the principle of non-refoulement as well as to safeguard guarantees and compliance with legal procedures. Moreover, the aim of the Recording Mechanism is to boost accountability for reported human rights violations alleged to have occurred during informal forced returns of third country nationals from Greece to other countries.
The Recording Mechanism has recorded 50 incidents of informal forced returns which according to the alleged victims occurred in April 2020 as of to October 2022. The 50 incidents are supported by 58 personal testimonies recorded through personal interviews with the alleged victims.
The President of the GNCHR, Professor Maria Gavouneli, opened the event by presenting the Recording Mechanism, while the Supervisor of the Recording Mechanism, Ilias Tsampardoukas presented an overview of the methodology of the Recording Mechanism and the main conclusions of its first Interim Report. The event was attended and addressed by the Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights – FRA, Michael O’ Flaherty through a video message, the Deputy Fundamental Rights Officer of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency – Frontex, Grigorios Tsioukas, the Chief of Mission of the IOM in Greece and Regional Response Coordinator, Gianluca Rocco, and the Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Greece (UNHCR), Maria-Clara Martin.
Τhe Recording Mechanism, will present detailed qualitative and quantitative data on the recorded incidents in its annual full report scheduled to be published later this year.
You can access the first Interim Report of the Recording Mechanism by clicking here
 Greek Council for Refugees (GCR), Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR), Network for Children’s Rights, Medical Intervention, METAdrasi – ACTION FOR MIGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT, Transgender Support Association, Refugee Support Aegean (RSA), HIAS Greece, Legal Centre Lesvos, Danish Refugee Council Greece (DRC)
The video of the Press Conference at GNCHR youtube channel:
The video message by EU FRA Director Michael 'O Flaherty: