‘Hearts tired of all talk’*

February 9, 2017 — Comment

Written by Catriona Jarvis and Syd Bolton

The Last Rights project, set up in 2016, aims to ‘create a new framework of respect for the rights of missing and dead refugees and migrants and bereaved family members’. The project’s co-convenors, Catriona Jarvis and Syd Bolton, have since the summer of 2015 been frequent visitors to Lesbos, doing volunteer work. They spent winter 2015/16 there and were at Moria on 30 January 2017. They comment on the recent deaths in Greece below:

Moria camp, January/February 2017

Moria camp, January/February 2017

‘The persistent inhumane conditions imposed on migrants, including refugees on the Greek islands and on the mainland are the primary cause of death and suffering for the people who have lost their lives and loved ones in the camps this winter. More deaths are inevitable unless enormous and rapid positive changes to living conditions and to asylum and migration policies are made.

The EU, Greek authorities and UN agencies have presided over abject breaches of human rights for too long. The right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution provided for in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been rendered all but nugatory.

The Last Rights Project is calling upon states, including Greece, to adopt binding international standards to protect and pursue the rights of dead and missing migrants and their bereaved family members.

Every death on or following a migratory journey, including in camps and in state custody, whether accidental or by design, must be investigated. Pathology and forensic expertise is essential and may identify among other facts the physical causes of a death but does not address the underlying and causal factors.

Migrants’ graveyard, Myteline, Lesbos, September 2016

Migrants’ graveyard, Myteline, Lesbos, September 2016

Death tolls continue to rise well after arrival from dangerous journeys. This cannot be treated as “normal” with states left effectively immune from responsibility.

We call upon the Greek government to instigate a rigorous, independent, public inquest into all such deaths, encourage the cooperation and coordination of all agencies, enable the collection and preservation of evidence and early and full participation of families including through legal representation by specialist lawyers. Where appropriate, criminal proceedings should be commenced.’

Related links

Read an IRR News article on 13 recent deaths in Greece here

Last Rights Project

Read an interview with Catriona Jarvis here

Catriona Jarvis and Syd Bolton’s blog: Methoria

* Quote from a refugee banner.

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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