European commission spokesperson Adalbert Jahnz said on Thursday that the EU’s executive branch had “noted with concern reports in the media” on the use of long range acoustic devices (LRADs) at Greece’s border with Turkey.
According to The Associated Press (AP), Jahnz said the European Commission would be “seeking information from Greece” about the use of the sound canons.
He also suggested that use of the technology could potentially be in contravention of the EU’s laws on fundamental rights.
While he said that it is up to EU-member countries to decide how to manage their borders, their approach “should conform to European fundamental rights, including the right to dignity”.
Greece’s sound cannons as loud as jet engines
According to the Associated Press, the long-range acoustic devices, fitted to armored trucks, are capable of unleashing a blast as loud as a jet engine over the Turkish border.
They emit powerful sound waves which may cause pain and shock to the human body.
A high-pitched "sound cannon" is being used by police in Greece to deter migrants from crossing into the country from Turkey. European Union authorities are also funding a new automated surveillance network as part of a digital fortress, and border walls. https://t.co/1nlXqBRmnb pic.twitter.com/biSYqZ8Er2
— AP Europe (@AP_Europe) May 31, 2021
Greece’s Police Maj. Dimonsthenis Kamargios, head of the region’s border guard authority, told AP that the country needs modern equipment, such as sound cannons to stop illegal immigrants.
“Our task is to prevent migrants from entering the country illegally. We need modern equipment and tools to do that.”
Sound cannons are “dangerous and discriminatory”
Greece is also building a metal wall along the Evros River separating Greece from Turkey to block the most commonly-used crossing points. The 5-meter (16.4 foot) tall fence with a total length of 27 km (16.7 miles) and eight observation towers is being erected at the area of Ferres, at the southern part of the border region.
The area is difficult to police because the Evros River does not function as a natural border, since some Turkish territory extends west of the river bank.
Observation towers are also being fitted with long-range cameras, night vision, and multiple sensors.
In a statement on Thursday, the EU-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor condemned the use of sound cannons at Greece’s border, branding it “dangerous, experimental and discriminatory”.
The human rights monitor warned that the use of such devices to deter asylum seekers from crossing risks turning the EU into a “‘digital fortress’ that inhumanely keeps people on the move afraid and away”.
“The removal of migrants without giving them the opportunity to apply for asylum is illegal under both European and international law,” it noted.
The Euro-Med Monitor called on Greece and Europe to “immediately adopt and strengthen human rights-based equality and non-discrimination approaches to the use of digital border technologies, including human rights impact assessments as a prerequisite for their deployment, in line with international standards”.
It also warns that the long-range acoustic devices’ system can be employed also as a method of crowd control in riots and protests, and its strong sound waves can be used to deter and harm wildlife in strategic places like airport runways, gas and oil platforms, and industrial and energy plants.