On June 9th, the Lawyers Association of Mitilini (Lesvos) sued the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) for obstructing access to asylum proceedings by its members. The lawyers claim that EASO officials and private security guards are prohibiting access to specific areas of the holding centers, also called hotspots, that host the EASO offices and the asylum proceedings.
According to a report posted on News Deeply – Refugees Deeply digital project:
“The [lawyers’] association will guard the rights of its members as well as refugees against anyone who creates obstacles to their representation according to law,” said Haris Petsikos, a lawyer and member of the association.
Tensions have been high on some of the islands due to almost daily outbreaks of violence among asylum seekers and concerns regarding the safety of officials deployed on the islands of Chios and Lesvos.
But the latest security measures affected access to the legal representatives of asylum seekers.
EASO joined the Greek Asylum Service on the islands in order to assist Greece’s Regional Asylum Offices (RAO) , after the EU Turkey Deal went into effect om March 20th 2016.
The lawyers in Lesvos have accused the European agency of using increased security measures to deliberately limit uninhibited monitoring of how the asylum proceedings are being conducted.
Reacting to questions about the unusual security measures, an EASO spokesperson confirmed that it has contracted G4S, a private global security company, to provide services inside refugee hotspots on the Greek islands due to “serious safety concerns” about their officials.
G4S is a British multinational and the world’s largest security company in terms of revenue and operates in 125 countries. Recent controversies involving the company include allegations of using immigrant-detainee labor in prisons, misconduct in child custodial institutions and manipulating police telephone data. Given this record, human rights groups and lawyers are understandably concerned about the rights and treatment of asylum seekers.
Civil society activists and advocacy groups such as Pro Asyl have also criticized the European asylum office for purportedly acting beyond its stated mandate. Some groups also claim that the EASO is helping impose a policy of en mass inadmissible decisions on asylum claims, in order to bolster the E.U.-Turkey deal.
full story in Newsdeeply
G4S was in the news in June 2016 because of employee Omar Mateen, the gunman behind the shooting of 55 people in Orlando, Florida, “the worst mass-shooting incident in United States history. Matten who was employed as a security guard by the company.” wikipedia