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Accused of Pushbacks, Greece Speeding Deportations of Migrants

ATHENS – Already accused of pushing back refugees and migrants – which it denied – Greece's New Democracy government is pushing forward with plans to deport faster those who get in, avoiding patrols.

Legislation from the Migration Ministry would also give police additional powers in the process to get migrants out as fast as possible, with Turkey not fully abiding by an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union to take back those denied asylum.

Greece is holding some 100,000 refugees and migrants in detention centers and camps, including on five islands near the coast of Turkey, which under the agreement is supposed to contain 4.4 million of them who went there fleeing war, strife and economic hardship in their homelands.

A key provision would allow police to directly order deportation of migrants caught crossing into Greece without documents if they don't seek asylum or if their application is rejected, said Kathimerini.

Undocumented migrants may also be held in custody prior to deportation if they are considered a flight risk or a threat to public order and the grace period for voluntary deportations will be cut from 30 days to 7-25 days, the report said.

The new measures would also make it harder for migrants to challenge a deportation order by applying a stricter definition to what can be regarded as “humanitarian grounds” and reducing the period in which they can take legal recourse against such a decision to 30 days after it is issued.

Younger migrants and unaccompanied minors who are not granted asylum but cannot be deported either will be granted full healthcare and social security coverage for now, however.

Other plans include regulating the activities Nongovernmental organizations, civil society bodies and volunteer groups who have largely filled a void in a lack of state services and as the government wants to prosecute those who help rescue refugees and migrants and sea, charging them with human trafficking.

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