NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cypriot police pushed back 200 migrants and refugees coming from Lebanon aboard ships before this month, dismissing their claims for asylum while in certain cases using violence and coercive strategies, a human rights watchdog said on Tuesday.
The team said coast guard vessels tried to swamp migrant ships by circling them at high speed and left a minimum of one ship at sea without gas or food.
The watchdog said the accusations come from interviews with 15 Syrian and Lebanese nationals who strove to achieve European Union member Cyprus after setting sail from Tripoli, Lebanon, aboard seven ships between Aug. 29 and Sept. 7.
Based on Human Rights Watch, victims and witnesses on two ships returned to Lebanon reported that Cyprus marine authorities handcuffed and beat people who resisted being returned.
The watchdog lent one Lebanese national recognized only by his first title who accused Cypriot authorities of working with a cattle prod on him aboard a ship on Sept. 6 after he cried them to rescue a few who jumped forward.
It said the European Commission must get Cyprus to honor the right of migrants to seek asylum and not to return individuals to a location where their security and liberty might be in danger.
“Individuals who risk their own lives and their children’s lives by visiting Lebanon by ship do this when They’re truly desperate,” Human Right Watch official Bill Frelick said.” They have the right to have their claims for international security “
Cypriot officials didn’t immediately return calls for comment on the report.
The Cypriot government has stated that the ethnically split island country is ready to provide safe refuge to refugees, but has now reached its limitations in accepting”economic migrants.” Interior Minister Nicos Nouri’s stated earlier this month that the Cypriot government is coordinating with all Cuban authorities to return migrants coming from this country consistent with international law.