Greek transparency agency removes migration report over data breach

ATHENS — Greece’s National Transparency Authority (NTA) was pressured on Friday to take away a report on migrant pushbacks within the Aegean Sea because it was improperly redacted, in an embarrassing knowledge breach.

The authority eliminated the report, which it posted on-line on Tuesday, because it didn’t correctly conceal the names and private particulars of those that had been interviewed in the course of the investigation.

NGOs and media have lengthy accused Greek authorities of illegally turning away asylum seekers who arrive at its borders, in a observe referred to as “pushbacks.” The European Commission has repeatedly urged the Greek authorities to create an impartial monitoring authority to look into the quite a few reviews on pushbacks. Brussels has set that as a situation for additional financing of coast guard operations within the Eastern Aegean.

On March 29, NTA issued a press launch asserting the conclusion of its three-month investigation into Greece’s administration of migration, launched on the request of the nation’s migration ministry. The report adopted up on the findings of an eight-month journalistic investigation by Lighthouse Reports and 9 different European media platforms, which claimed a “system” of unlawful pressured returns operated in Greece and Croatia, and alleged particular models of the nations’ safety forces had been concerned. 

The NTA made the complete report public earlier this week, saying in its conclusion that it discovered no proof of pushbacks and nothing to substantiate the Lighthouse allegations, “as no supporting evidence or relevant documentation has emerged.”

But as a result of the names of the interviewees had been improperly redacted, critics of the NTA’s report argued it was largely based mostly on interviews with police and coast guard officers, who might doubtlessly be concerned within the alleged pushbacks. According to researcher Phevos Simeonidis, who first revealed the improper redaction and was capable of get hold of the complete record of these NTA interviewed, some 45 percent of them had been police or coast guard officers.

Authorities seem to have additionally spoken with church officers and Greek authorities engaged on migration. But out of 65 interviewees, just one was a consultant of an NGO and solely 4 had been migrants. No officers from the U.N. refugee company had been interviewed.

Even earlier than the revealing of the redactions, the NTA report already revealed Lighthouse Reports Director Klaas van Dijken’s telephone quantity, included on the backside of supposedly confidential correspondence.

“We welcome the publication of the full report, as we welcomed the investigation,” van Dijken informed POLITICO. “But the disclosure of personal data and failed effort at redaction has left us with concerns over the conduct of the investigation.”

The report permitted Greek migration coverage, from the operation of its asylum facilities to the way it manages unlawful migration flows: “In every incident of detection of irregular immigrants, the legal provisions are respected throughout the entire operation, as provided by the national, international and European law.”

The report made scant point out of Frontex, the EU border administration company that works with the Greek coast guard and has been accused of pushbacks, including by the European Parliament.

Frontex’s former govt director, Fabrice Leggeri, recently resigned amid an investigation by OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud workplace. The Greek authorities presented Leggeri with an award earlier this 12 months for his contribution to tackling the migration disaster.

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