A Syrian NGO based in the United States has filed a case with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to demand an investigation into alleged abuse and mistreatment of refugees by Greek authorities.
The Syria Justice and Accountability Center filed the case on Thursday, saying it had received witness testimony and video evidence to prove that refugees had been mistreated at Greek borders and in camps.
Greek security guards dispersed refugee protests using tear gas, and people were held in shabby and unhealthy conditions at overcrowded camps, the group cited as examples.
The legal challenge before the ICC is the first of its kind in the European Union dealing with specific aspects of the bloc’s treatment of refugees, said Mohammad Al-Abdallah, the group’s executive director, according to reports carried by the Associated Press (AP).
“If this case proceeds, it would send a clear message that, yes, you have good policies in some countries, others (not) … but that you are actually governed by international law and by your refugee treaties, not by your individual member states’ decision making,” said Al-Abdallah.
Proceedings before proceedings
The International Criminal Court, which is based in The Hague, will review the case before deciding whether a full-scale investigation will be launched.
The ICC reportedly receives hundreds of submissions each year from groups and individuals that call for probes into alleged crimes; the cases that the ICC takes up, however, have for the most part been referred to it by the UN Security Council and member states.
While the court has faced criticism in the past over the fact that it has primarily looked into cases based in African countries, it is currently dealing with cases worldwide.