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International Organisations Press Greece to Secure Justice Over Pylos Shipwreck

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have called for justice on the Pylos shipwreck, which cost the lives of more than 600 people, stressing that Greece has made little meaningful progress.

Greek authorities have been accused of not immediately reacting to rescue the migrants. Investigations by Greek and foreign media revealed that the Greek Coast Guard’s actions and omissions contributed to the shipwreck and loss of life off Pylos.

The Pylos shipwreck triggered a public outcry and protests all over Greece.

A fishing boat, Adriana, estimated to carry 750 migrants and asylum seekers, including children, mainly from Syria, Pakistan, and Egypt, started its journey from Libya to Italy, its final destination. On June 14, the boat capsized, leading to the death of more than 600 people.

Only 104 of those onboard survived, and 82 bodies were recovered.

“The Pylos shipwreck appears to be another tragic example of Greek authorities’ abdication of responsibility for saving lives at sea,” said Judith Sunderland, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “A full accounting of what happened is paramount to securing truth and justice for survivors and families of the victims and to help avoid future deaths.”

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International interviewed survivors and relatives of missing people and representatives of Greek authorities and non-profit and international agencies and organisations. Their report said that Greek authorities were aware of indicators of distress, such as overcrowding and insufficient food and water, and they knew about corpses on board and requests for rescue; however, they failed to mobilize appropriate resources for a rescue.

Investigations by the independent investigative Greek media outlet Solomon, the interdisciplinary investigative platform Forensis, the New York Times, Der Spiegel, El País, Lighthouse Reports, and the Washington Post documented similar allegations.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty raise concerns about the prospects for accountability for the shipwreck. Nine survivors are facing serious charges, including for causing the shipwreck. In parallel, the Naval Court opened an investigation into the potential responsibility of the Coast Guard. In September, 40 survivors filed a complaint with the same court, alleging that Greek authorities were responsible for the shipwreck. “It is unclear how a finding by one court might affect the other,” says the report.

In November, the Greek Ombudsman opened an inquiry into the Coast Guard’s actions, citing its refusal to conduct an internal disciplinary investigation. The European Ombudsman opened an inquiry into the role of the European Union border agency Frontex, whose aircraft initially sighted the vessel, while the agency’s Fundamental Rights Officer is pursuing his own investigation.

“Almost 10 years since the deadly Farmakonisi shipwreck, the Greek authorities’ response to the Pylos tragedy is a crucial test of their willingness to investigate human rights violations against racialized people at the country’s border,” said Adriana Tidona, migration researcher at Amnesty International.

“Greece must ensure that survivors and families’ of the hundreds who lost their lives can safely and effectively participate in proceedings to the highest degree possible and ensure that investigations are carried out in a timely manner, guaranteeing the completeness and integrity of evidence admitted.”

In 2022, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Greece for the shortcomings in its rescue efforts and in its subsequent investigations in the 2014 Farmakonisi shipwreck in which 11 people died.

Source : BalkanInsight