#FirstWeds Summer Series 2023: Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Shedding Light on the Reality of EU Pushbacks

Pushbacks prevent people seeking asylum from being able to claim protection in the country they are attempting to enter, and can result in their forced return to a country where they face the risk of torture or persecution.

A pushback is when a state actor (like the border police/coast guard of a country or of the EU) pushes people who are looking for international protection back over a border or forcefully returns them to another country without examining their individual case for international protection.

Unfortunately, pushbacks have been reported in far too many EU states, including Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Spain. Illegal under international law, these actions are often violent and can have severe consequences for those seeking protection.

Despite these challenges, there is hope. Although political leaders keep denying any wrongdoing, journalists and international organizations are increasingly documenting instances of pushbacks and violent practices. In every location where pushbacks occur, there is also incredible solidarity of individuals and communities working towards justice, documenting these incidents and supporting survivors.

On June 7th we will have the honour of hosting activists from Poland and Greece who will share their experiences and efforts in fighting pushbacks, protecting the rule of law and those whom this law is supposed to protect. Aideen Elliott, senior policy and research coordinator at Oxfam Ireland will also talk about solutions to these human rights abuses and what people in Ireland can do to demand an end to pushbacks.

We invite you to join us for this crucial discussion and to learn more about the importance of defending the right to international protection.


Samah is a survivor of pushback from the Greek island of Samos. Samah came from Palestine to ask for international protection in Greece, but she was pushed back and subject to violence and unlawful treatment. On another attempt to reach Greece, she made it to Samos Island. She is determined to get justice. Lawyers from the Samos Human Rights Legal Project are filing a lawsuit to the local prosecutor asserting torture and endangerment of life among a long list of criminal offences.

Samah will talk to us about her experience of pushbacks and her determined fight for justice. 

Dimitris Choulis is a Lawyer with Human Rights Legal Project, Samos, Greece. Dimitrios was born on Samos in 1981. After a brief interlude in Athens to study law, he moved back home to his native Samos in 2006 and lived there peacefully, practicing as a private criminal lawyer, until the moment that he realised there were people being denied their rights, and sometimes even losing their lives, right on his doorstep. 2019 marked a personal turning point, and Dimitrios co-founded the Human Rights Legal Project, which he continues to support as the Lead Criminal Lawyer today. His work includes defending criminalised migrants (often known as boatdriver cases), and bringing criminal charges against authorities and duty-bearers for the violation of the rights of people seeking international protection in Greece

Maciej Nowicki is a President of the Board of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Poland–one of the largest human rights NGOs in Central and Eastern Europe.

He is a lawyer and an expert on human rights, the rule of law, and documentary film. He conducted training sessions, gave lectures, participated in various panel debates, and served on several juries at international film festivals.

Maciej is a Co-founder of the International Film Festival WATCH DOCS, Human Rights in Film in Warsaw, established in 2001, and till 2021 its Director. He authored the concept behind the FUTURE DOCS international platform for creative encounters between human rights defenders and documentary filmmakers.

Jade Wilson, a journalist with the Irish Times, will moderate this session.

We hope to see you there!

FROM LEGAL OBLIGATIONS TO ILLEGAL PRACTICES: Challenging Pushbacks & the Erosion of the Rule of Law on the European Borders'

#FirstWeds Summer Series 2023

This event is a part of the First Wednesdays Summer Series 2023 organised in partnership with Oxfam Ireland. This series of two events will focus on the critical issue of EU pushbacks and the breakdown of the rule of law at the European borders. It aims to shed light on the human rights violations, law breaking, and ethical concerns associated with the EU’s pushback policies and unlawful actions towards people seeking protection.

Equal Right to Refuge - Take Action Now!

Urge the Irish Government to use their influence at EU level and ensure equal right to refuge for all.

Sign the Oxfam Ireland’s petition now.