British Minister of Armed Forces: “Greece is doing pushbacks”

The Minister of the Armed Forces of Great Britain, James Hippie, presented Greece as a typical case of a country that carries out repatriation of refugees and immigrants. in his speech before the members of the competent committee of the House of Commons and completely separated British from Greek practices.

“The prime minister, the home secretary and other advisers to the British government had seen the successful implementation of the practice of pushbacks in other countries, and primarily in Greece,” the Conservative Party minister said in response to questions from members of the parliamentary committee on the deterrence tactics followed in the English Channel. In the same context, he underlined that Greece and Australia are “international examples” in terms of the “success” of pushbacks and violent interceptions, respectively.

Mr Hippie, however, revealed at the meeting that in the past Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government’s Home Secretary had asked the Ministry of Defense to investigate whether similar practices could be followed in the Channel by the Navy as part of of Operation Isotrope against illegal immigration. He made it clear, however, that the analyzes and tests carried out by experts in the English Channel showed how dangerous this would be for the safety of refugees and migrants. So Boris Johnson’s government decided not to mandate such practices.

Pushbacks would violate International Conventions

The British Defense Secretary also said that members of the British Navy presented “irrefutable evidence” against pushbacks. He added that “everyone in the Ministry of Defense including the political leadership” was extremely concerned about the reputational impact of the British Navy engaging in “pushbacks and violent interception tactics”. “We told them: ‘we’re not going to do it’ and the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary agreed with that position,” revealed Mr Hippie. He also explained that conducting pushbacks would be “operationally unsustainable” in the English Channel and would constitute a breach of the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue.

“We do not do retargeting or use ‘audio cannons’”

“We don’t do pushbacks, violent interceptions or use “sound cannons” and other crazy things like that to remove refugees and immigrants,” Mr. Hippie also claimed to the Defense Committee of the British Parliament. He also explained that the boats on which the refugees and migrants are loaded are completely unfit to cross the English Channel, meaning that by definition all attempts to cross are at risk. “All Navy sailors subscribe to the fact that it is their duty to save lives at sea,” added Mr Hippie, speaking out against the pushback and violent interception of refugees and migrants.

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