The Kathimerini reported that Greece is condemned by the Council of Europe over a disputed migration bill.

A child stands next to shelters inside the Ritsona camp for refugees and migrants, in Greece, June 15, 2021. Picture taken June 15, 2021.
A child stands next to shelters inside the Ritsona camp for refugees and migrants, in Greece, June 15, 2021. Picture taken June 15, 2021. (AFP)

Europe's top human rights watchdog has slammed Greece's draft bill aimed at regulating migrant deportations and returns, saying it places significant limits on the operations of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working to save lives in the Aegean.

Greece's Kathimerini reported that, “The Greek parliament should reconsider a legislative proposal currently being discussed, which would seriously hinder the life-saving work carried out at sea by NGOs, and their human rights monitoring capacities in the Aegean,” Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement on Friday.

“I call on members of the Parliament to draw on these recommendations to ensure that the bill, once adopted, fully reflects Greece’s obligations, including under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Refugee Convention,” she said. 

This clause, according to a disgusted Mijatovic, may "further jeopardise" NGOs' rescue operations and "severely undermine the necessary examination of the Greek Coast Guard's operations' conformity with human rights norms."

READ MORE: How Greece's new asylum policy endangers refugees and violates EU laws

'High time' for new EU migration policy: commissioner

EU Commissioner Margaritis Schinas on Saturday said the influx of migrants into eastern states of the EU could lead to common European migration rules.

Schinas was speaking during a visit to Lithuania, where this year thousands of migrants from the Middle East have crossed over from Belarus.

"The situation here is also another message for us in the European Union, that this is now a high-time to move to a more predictable, comprehensive European framework for migration policy," he said.

"This is the political moment now to move from an operation of a firefighting to an operation of architecture," he said while visiting the Baltic country's border with Belarus.

The European Commission proposed a New Pact on Migration and Asylum in 2020, hoping to create faster migration processes and stronger governance of migration and borders policies.

READ MORE: Greece faces lawsuit at the ECHR over illegal migrant pushbacks

Migration influx from Afghanistan

But Schinas said negotiations stalled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the meantime the EU is concerned about a possible new migration influx from Afghanistan, after Taliban seized control of the country.

In Lithuania, the number of detected illegal border crossings has reached more than 4,100 so far this year, compared to just 81 for all of 2020.

A controversial tactic implemented last month to push back migrants at the border allowed Lithuania to drastically decrease the influx.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte urged the EU to find a "very good balance" to stop "the primitive abuse" of international protection rules for refugees, while ensuring human rights.

"International agreements were designed to solve very real, practical problems, but they must not become a tool for people whose criminal business is to organise trips for illegal migrants, to fill their pockets," she said.

The EU blames Belarus for orchestrating the migrant influx in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland as retaliation against EU sanctions on the regime for a deadly crackdown on the opposition.

Source: AFP