The systemic and automatic quarantine of all newly arriving asylum seeker on Chios amounts to illegal detention under Greek, EU, and international human rights law. Even though quarantine stopped recently, the practise and situation on Chios remains relatively unknown, giving the impression of operating in a legal vacuum. This report sheds light on the implemented quarantine practise, while legally classifying the procedures and conditions.
You can read the full report below.
Quarantine as a pretext for unlawful detention of asylum seekers
After giving an overview about the general situation of asylum seeker in Greece and a timeline of the measures taken towards COVID-19 by illustrating that the situation on the “EU Hotspot” Chios falls in direct line with the Greek and European policies when it comes to shielding the EU from migration and illegalized entries. The completely dissociated quarantine practice on Chios from the general policies regarding COVID-19 in Greece only contributes to the segregation and disenfranchisement of asylum seekers.
The report establishes, that those in quarantine are de facto and de jure asylum seeker. It continues in laying out, that the quarantine practise on Chios amounts to detention. By looking at the legal grounds for detaining asylum seekers, the report concludes that the quarantine practise on Chios violates Greek, EU and international law on multiple accounts and therefore amounts to illegal detention.
Entirely Unsuitable Detention Conditions
“It was like a prison. There were no activities at all. It was a room, and we were just staying in that room… It was difficult to bear the situation.” This statement of one interviewee echoes the overall perception of the quarantine practise gained through interviews and representation of asylum seekers on Chios.
Even though the quarantine conditions have been particularly difficult to report, as no lawyer was allowed to enter the premises and the police confiscated the phones of those quarantined. The report finds that not only the quarantine practise as such violates Greek, EU, and international law, but also the procedures and implementation of the quarantine disregards fundamental human rights – food and water are non-sufficient, no or few access to recreational activities, men and women are detained together, no access to privacy, the hygienic facilities are poor as well as the conditions for vulnerable persons. Lastly, healthcare is inadequate or non-existent and the overall environment completely unsuitable as a protective measure to prevent the spread of Covid 19.