Study on the criminalization of refugees in Greece

Refugees in Greece are declared to be smugglers and sentenced to years of imprisonment in proceedings questionable under the rule of law because they are accused of steering a boat or driving a car. 

We commissioned Borderline-Europe to analyze in a study how the reality looks like in the fight against "trafficking in human beings" and came across a lawless space in which arbitrary justice is carried out in order to deter other people from fleeing. The observation of 81 trials with 95 persons involved has brought to light frightening findings. 

Refugees are criminalized and sentenced to long prison terms because they are accused of smuggling; and this only because they are accused of having crossed the border by boat or car. Most people are sentenced on the basis of the testimony of a police or coast guard person, who in 68 percent of cases is not even present during the proceedings. A trial lasts an average of 37 minutes, with an average prison sentence of 46 years. Due to the lack of translation, the convicts often do not even directly understand what they have just been sentenced to and for. 

Those affected are usually arrested immediately upon arrival, held in pre-trial detention for months, and have very limited opportunities to defend themselves and receive assistance. The proceedings in which these charges are tried are very short and violate basic standards of fairness and the rule of law. As a result, persons convicted of smuggling constitute the second largest group in Greek prisons.

We invite you to take a closer look at the results of our study, which legal framework makes this possible and what this means for the rights of refugees. Together we want to discuss possible consequences and solutions against criminalization.


Project Together, Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 34, 10178 Berlin

Date and time: 


19.30 – 21.30 pm 

Link to the event

Registration closed on site.