1 November 2021

Report on Systematic Detention of Migrants on Kos

Kos hosts the only pre-removal detention centre on the Eastern Aegean islands. Since January 2020, the Greek authorities have detained nearly every asylum seeker who has arrived on the island of Kos automatically upon arrival. This has historically included survivors of gender-based violence and torture, families with young children, elderly persons, LGBTQIA people, and people suffering from serious physical and mental health conditions.

The automatic detention of asylum seekers is illegal under Greek, EU, and international human rights law, and yet the situation on Kos remains relatively unknown. Equal Rights new report on the Kos pre-removal detention centre sheds light on the ongoing situation on Kos, by documenting the detention practices on the island and living conditions inside the pre-removal detention centre.

You can read the full report here.

Unlawful Detention

The report is divided into two sections, first looking at the legal grounds for detaining asylum seekers and migrants in Greece and the EU before examining the conditions inside the Kos pre-removal detention centre.

In both sections, the report concludes that the practices on Kos violate the law on multiple accounts and fail to protect the rights of asylum seekers who arrive seeking protection on the island. The report raises particular concern about the ongoing practice of detaining rejected asylum seekers with no prospect of return to Turkey, as Turkey has refused to accept returns from Greece since March 2020.

Based on information gathered from in-depth interviews with 31 asylum seekers detained in the Kos pre-removal detention centre and Equal Rights’ experience representing over 100 clients on the island, the report reveals the devastating physical and mental consequences prolonged detention has on asylum seekers.

Entirely Unsuitable Detention Conditions

The detention conditions are particularly difficult to report, as the police breaks every phone camera of detainees. One applicant accordingly reports:

“The police broke the camera. They asked me either if I break camera or police will and if you don’t want to break it then the phone is not allowed to get inside detention…”

However, our report finds that environment of the detention is prison-like, detainees are regularly ill-treated by the police, food and water are inadequate and non-sufficient, detainees have no or few access to recreational activities, men and women are detained together, the detention centre often is overcrowded, there is no access to privacy, the hygienic facilities are poor, healthcare is inadequate or non-existent and the conditions for vulnerable persons are inadequate.

The report is based on our daily work - and more than 70 pages long, countless hours of work were dedicated to it. This would not be possible without support. You can donate here:

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