On the island of Chios, 25 asylum seekers have been fined 5,000 euros each for not being able to show a negative PCR test, according to Greek news site Efsyn.
Upon arrival, the refugees were first placed in quarantine for 14 days. None of them became ill, after which they were transferred to an asylum seekers’ center for formal registration.
There they received a fine for not having either a vaccination certificate or a negative test result. Greek police were thereby applying the same Covid-19 rules that also apply to tourists and business travelers.
According to Efsyn, the timing is not coincidental: the authorities are tightening their deterrence policies just now, to discourage Afghans fleeing the Taliban from traveling to Greece.
Criminalization of asylum seekers
It is not the first time that Greece has used the pandemic regulations measures to further restrict the movement of refugees and migrants. Last summer, for example, refugee camps with a combined total of about 120,000 residents had to remain in lockdown for weeks to months longer than the rest of the country.
The fines also fit into a broader trend of criminalization of asylum seekers, which aid organizations have been warning about for some time. In Greece, for example, the drivers of crossing boats are increasingly being sentenced to decades in prison for human trafficking: the NGO Border Monitoring found 48 examples of this on the islands of Lesbos and Chios alone.
Also at the Greek-Turkish land border last year, dozens of refugees and migrants ended up in prison instead of an asylum seekers’ center, for “crossing the border illegally.” In early August, a group of MEPs put questions to the European Commission about these practices, which violate European and international law.
Asylum seekers to appeal the fines
Greece also took legal action last year against a father whose infant son drowned at sea: he is accused of endangering the life of his child. In February, a pregnant woman who set herself on fire in her tent in Moria refugee camp was charged with arson and destruction of public property.
The group of asylum seekers on Chios is planning to appeal the covid fine, Efsyn reports, which was presented without translation, so they did not initially understand it.
Photo: by Dimitris Mourousiadis from Pexels