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second pushback by frontex in 48 hours

Date & Time 2020-05-31
Location vicinity of Trestenik (GR/AL border)
Reported by No Name Kitchen
Coordinates 40.57232431, 21.04464718
Pushback from Albania
Pushback to Greece
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 17 - 30
Group size 9
Countries of origin Morocco, Algeria, Egypt
Treatment at police station or other place of detention detention, photos taken, personal information taken
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved Unknown
Violence used no violence used
Police involved 2 Frontex officers (Poland/Romania), unknown number of Albanian officers, vehicle with Polish registration, other police vehicle

The group of nine, which included a 17 year old teenager, were pushed back to Greece by Frontex officers. Occurring close to Trestenik (Albania), it was the second time in just two days that they had been removed illegally by the European Agency.

After being pushed back in the early hours of 30th May 2020 (link), the transit group took a day to rest in a village in northern Greece close to the Albanian border. The respondent interviewed was part of a group of 9 people. He came from Morocco, while the others were from Algeria and one man from Egypt. The group were aged between 17 and 30 years old.

After the first removal from Albania, he stated that the group rested in the woods in Greece on 30th May 2020.

“we stay, we eat, we sleep and around 9 or 10 pm we go again to Albania

The group then reentered Albania and took a similar route as before.They were stopped almost in the same point of the previous day, this time a little further away from the village of Trestenik (Albania). The respondent asserted that the capturing police officers had infrared binoculars to detect them in the dark. The apprehension occurred at approximately 00:00 – 00:30 on 31st May 2020.

Front cabin of specialized night vision vehicle used by Frontex in Albania (Source:Arte)
Rear section of vehicle where operators view monitors which display imaging from the night vision cameras (Source:Arte)

The respondent stated that the group tried to evade capture by running, but the police caught all nine of them. The respondent was the last one to be caught. According to the respondent there were three police officers present. One from Albania, one from Poland and from Romania. The plate of the car that they used was from Poland.

Frontex vehicle with Polish licence plate (Source:Frontex)

The Polish and Romanian officers had blue Frontex armbands worn over their national uniforms. The respondent described how the officers questioned them for their identity and how they had crossed. They also took pictures of everyone in the transit group.

Ten minutes after the initial capture, additional officers arrived with another vehicle and transferred the nine people to a nearby police station which the respondent identified as in Bilisht (Albania). They were detained in this station for around five hours. At approximately 06:00, the authorities drove the group to the border in a 4×4 vehicle and ordered them back into Greek territory. The transit group returned to the improvised shelter they had been resting in before by foot.

After the pushback, the group were caught at a village shop by Greek police. The officers took them to Kastoria bus station (Greece) and order them to take a bus, stating they could not remain in the border area (even if they had papers regularising their stay in Greece).The respondent stated that despite the successive illegal pushbacks they had faced they would try to cross again:

“This night we go again. We should be patient”