The cornerstone of the methodology of the Recording Mechanism is the definition of informal forced return incident that has been drafted upon joint consultation with its Members and adopted by them in its Founding Act. For the scope of the Recording Mechanism an incident of informal forced return is defined as the informal deportation, removal, 'pushback' or return, by summary proceedings outside the legal framework, of third-country nationals, including asylum seekers and holders of legal residence titles in Greece, from the Greek territory, without individual examination of international protection or other needs, and without the possibility of having recourse to legal remedies, which may lead to a direct or indirect breach of the principle of non-refoulement as stipulated in Article 3 of the Geneva Convention, Article 3 of the International Convention against Torture, Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, or the principles of international customary law.
The testimonies are being recorded by means of personal interviews conducted by the members’ recording officers with the alleged victims of informal forced returns, in most cases with the support of an interpreter of languages mutually understood. The Recording Mechanism shall not record in the Recording Form indirect testimonies or accounts, or allegations provided by third persons who are not victims of an informal forced return. Possible exceptions are testimonies provided by persons related to the alleged victim, if the latter, for reasons of force majeure (missing persons, enforced disappearance, incarceration, serious illness, or death) is unable to give his/her testimony. Before recording the testimony, the victim's prior written consent is required, given in a special consent form elaborated by the Recording Mechanism, after the victim has been thoroughly informed in a language understood by them, of its content, as well as of the purposes of the interview and the way in which their personal data and testimony will be used.
Testimonies are recorded on a standardized Recording Form as developed by the Recording Mechanism following joint consultation meetings with its Members and the UNHCR. In order for the Recording Form to meet the needs of recording a rather complex phenomenon involving multiple stages of management, (detection or informal arrest, informal detention or restriction of movement, physical removal) it is structured into various modules and sections, all of which gather detailed information on the identity of the alleged perpetrators, the places and times regarding each stage of the incident, from the detection of the victims in the Greek territory to their fate after their removal from the country, and record the alleged perpetrators' modus operandi. Finally, each testimony includes any intention of the alleged victims to take further action on their case, such as whether they have brought or intend bringing a complaint against the competent Authorities.
The Recording Forms shall be subject to quality control performed by the Recording Mechanism. The quality control applies to the sufficiency of the information recorded in the Recording Form, the accuracy of its completion, and the correspondence of the recorded testimony to the definition of informal forced return, as set out in the Recording Mechanism’s Founding Act.