A 25-year old Afghan migrant, who lost his son in the Aegean Sea while trying to reach the EU to ask for asylum, has been charged by Greece for child endangerment.
This controversial decision has sparked widely negative reactions both in Greece and abroad.
Media reports across Europe note that this is probably the first time in the history of the European Union that a surviving parent faces criminal charges for the loss of his child while trying to reach a safer place in his pursuit for a better life.
Dimitris Choulis is the migrant’s attorney; he has been trying to make the issue known to the world community for quite some time now, in order to show what he believes is a ”direct attack on the right to asylum.”
The shipwreck of the boat with the migrants
The tragic incident took place on November 25, 2020 near the Greek island of Samos, while a dinghy was trying to reach the Greek shores from Turkey.
The unfortunate father and his 6-year old son had previously joined 25 other people off the coast of Turkey, hoping that they would be able to seek asylum in Europe.
The boat capsized in the Aegean sea. The body of the six-year-old was found later on the shores of Samos, next to a pregnant woman.
The woman managed to survive and a few days later, she gave birth to her baby.
The decision of the Greek authorities to treat a helpless and desperate man like that has caused widespread negative reactions.
It is seen as an attempt of the right-wing New Democracy government in Athens to show a tough stance against migration, a situation that has been troubling Greece since 2015.
Speaking with Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, the lawyer of the migrant said that he worries that this new Greek stance towards migrants will hinder all those who have the right to ask for asylum.
The Greek Government Refutes Criticism
Despite the controversy that has been sparked, Greek migration minister Notis Mitarachi refutes the criticism and presents a different point of view on the matter.
Mitarachi spoke to the Associated Press recently, saying that it is up to the independent Greek Justice System to determine whether there was a matter of child endangerment or not.
“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.
The Greek minister also raised another issue that has been at the forefront of the migration crisis debate for years.
Mitarachi said that the European Union does not consider Turkey a non-safe country, meaning that those who chose to cross the Aegean to reach the EU take personal responsibility in doing so.
“The people who choose to get into boats which are unseaworthy, and are driven by people who have no experience of the sea, obviously put human lives at risk,” the Greek minister of Migration said.
It is noted that Greece has been at the forefront of the European migration crisis since early 2015. The latest serious crisis on this matter took place in early 2020, with the Evros migrant crisis, when Turkey attempted to breach Greek borders with thousands of refugees and migrants.