Survivors demand an effective investigation

*reposted from Refugee Support Aegean

Athens, September 14, 2023: Forty survivors of the deadly shipwreck in Pylos filed yesterday a criminal complaint against all responsible parties before the Naval Court of Piraeus.

The survivors, represented by the Network for Refugee and Migrant Rights, the Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR), the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR), the Initiative of Lawyers and Jurists for the shipwreck of Pylos, and Refugee Support Aegean (RSA), denounce a series of violations of the Greek authorities’ obligations to protect the lives of those on board and demand an effective investigation into the circumstances of the deadliest shipwreck to occur in the Mediterranean in recent years.

The survivors submit that the Greek authorities failed to immediately intervene and to organise a timely and adequate rescue operation despite their duty to rescue the passengers on board under International Law of the Sea, Human Rights Law, EU and domestic Law. This was especially due to the fact that they had been informed from the outset and subsequently ascertained at close distance the imminent threat to life facing passengers on board the manifestly unseaworthy and overcrowded trawler. The complainants allege that the Greek authorities not only refrained from taking the necessary rescue measures as soon as the vessel was sighted, but instead proceeded to an effort to tow the vessel that resulted in its capsizing and sinking.

The complainants demand an immediate, thorough and reliable investigation and the attribution of criminal responsibility for the acts and omissions of the Greek authorities. We recall that a number of international organisations and institutions, including the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe and the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament, have already urged Greece to carry out a full and effective investigation into the circumstances of the shipwreck.

The deadliest shipwreck of the Mediterranean has sparked global interest, a declared commitment of the Greek authorities to conduct a thorough investigation, and the launch of a preliminary examination by the Naval Court of Piraeus. Nevertheless, three months after the tragic event, none of the survivors of the shipwreck, witnesses of the events of 13/14 June 2023, has – to our knowledge – been called to testify on the circumstances of the shipwreck under that investigation or to provide any evidence.

Network for Refugee and Migrant Rights

Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR)

Greek Council for Refugees (GCR)

Initiative of Lawyers and Jurists for the shipwreck of Pylos

Refugee Support Aegean (RSA)

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