A 25-year-old Afghan father and his young son attempted the perilous sea journey from Turkey to Greece to seek asylum in Europe. The boy died after their boat struck rocks. The father has been charged with child endangerment. If convicted he faces up to 10 years in prison.
- “The charges are a stark departure from Greece’s previous treatment of migrant shipwreck survivors. This is believed to be the first time in the EU that a surviving parent faces criminal prosecution for the death of their child in the pursuit of a better life in Europe.” (AP)
Those migration policies are now being called into question in the case of the boy’s 25-year-old father, who is grieving the loss of his only child. Already devastated, the father has found himself charged with child endangerment for taking his son on the perilous journey from Turkey to the nearby Greek island of Samos. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.
The charges are a stark departure from Greece’s previous treatment of migrant shipwreck survivors. This is believed to be the first time in the European Union that a surviving parent faces criminal prosecution for the death of their child in the pursuit of a better life in Europe.
The father’s hopes were dashed on a cold November night against the rocks of Samos, a picturesque island that also houses Greece’s most overcrowded refugee camp.
“Without him I don’t know how to live,” the young man said, his soft voice breaking as a tear rolled down his cheek. “He is the only one I had in my life. All my hopes were him.”
Now, he says, he often thinks of killing himself. He no longer mentions the child’s name. The father agreed speak to The Associated Press on condition he only be identified by his initials, N.A., and that his son wouldn’t be named.
On an eastern Greek island lies a little boy's grave.
“Born 16.04.2015 Died 08.11.2020. From Afghanistan” the gravestone reads. “He drowned in a shipwreck. It wasn’t the sea, it wasn’t the wind, it is the policies and fear.”
— AP Europe (@AP_Europe) March 18, 2021
It is not entirely clear why Greek authorities took the extreme step of charging this man when so many others have been in his place. Activists suspect the move indicates a hardening of Greece’s already restrictive migration policies, or suggest it could be an attempt to divert attention from possible negligence by the coast guard.
But Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi rejected the idea that the case heralded a change in policy.
“If there is the loss of human life, it must be investigated whether some people, through negligence or deliberately, acted outside the limits of the law,” Mitarachi said, adding that each incident is treated according to its circumstances.
Full story: Associated Press