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  • Human Rights Research Center

European Human Rights Court: Greece Violated Syrian Refugee's Right to Life

January 17, 2024

Cited article by Ashifa Kassam, The Guardian

HRRC asserts the need for international refugee protections and calls for appropriate action to be taken against those who violate the rights of refugees. Further, as a party to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, Greece has a legal obligation to protect and support refugees.

News Brief

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Greece violated the right to life of a Syrian refugee who was killed when Greek authorities fired on a smuggler's boat. The event occurred in late 2014 when the coastguard attempted to stop the boat from docking in Greece. According to reports, the vessel had launched from Turkey carrying 14 passengers. The coastguard allegedly fired seven warning shots and thirteen shots at the boat's motor, leaving three critically injured. Belal Tello, a Syrian refugee, had been shot in the head and kept on life support for six months in a Greek hospital before being moved to Sweden for further care. He died in December 2015 as a result of his injury.

The Court determined that the coastguard's practice of firing at the engine of a moving vessel was “extremely dangerous” and “the 13 gunshots necessarily posed a risk to the motorboat’s passengers”. The Court ruled that Greece will pay €80,000 (about $86,000) in damages to the wife and two children of Tello.


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