Forensic Architecture

Forensic Architecture (FA) is a research agency, based at Goldsmiths, University of London, investigating human rights violations including violence committed by states, police forces, militaries, and corporations. Their investigations employ cutting-edge techniques in spatial and architectural analysis, open source investigation, digital modelling, and immersive technologies, as well as documentary research, situated interviews, and academic collaboration.

Detailed information:

Drift-backs in the Aegean Sea, 2022

Spanning a period of two years, from 28 February 2020, when the first drift-back case was reported and documented, to 28 February 2022, this interactive cartographic platform hosts evidence of 1,018 drift-backs in the Aegean Sea, involving 27,464 people. Of these 1,018 incidents, 386 were found to have taken place from or off the shores of the island of Lesvos, 126 off Chios, 194 off Samos, 120 off Kos, 89 off Rhodes and 86 in the rest of the Dodecanese. Sixteen deep ‘drift-backs’ were recorded, meaning that asylum seekers were intercepted deep inside Greek waters before being taken to the border and left adrift. One case was recorded in the North Aegean, off the island of Samothraki. FRONTEX, the European border and coast guard agency, was found to have been directly involved in 122 of these cases, while it is understood to have knowledge of 417, having logged them in its own operational archives, codified and masked as ‘preventions of entry’. In three cases, the German NATO warship FGS Berlin was present on the scene.
Twenty-six cases were recorded where people were thrown directly into the sea by the Hellenic Coast Guard, without any flotation device. In two of these cases, the people were found handcuffed. Eleven people were documented as having drowned during a drift-back, and at least four more went missing.
In mapping these cases, the platform is meant as a non-exhaustive and evolving tool, which will be updated at regular intervals for as long as this practice continues.

The information contained within the platform is the result of extensive collaborative research led by Forensic Architecture and its Berlin-based sister organisation Forensis, with the participation of the Border Violence Monitoring Network, Bellingcat, Amnesty International Crime Evidence Lab, and monitors and NGOs including AlarmPhone Aegean, Aegean Boat Report, Refugee Support Aegean, Legal Centre Lesvos, and HIAS Greece.

Forensic Architecture Team:
Researcher-in-Charge: Stefanos Levidis
Research: Jack Sapoch, Phevos Simeonidis, Andra Pop-Jurj, Christoffer Horlitz
Platform Development: Ebrahem Farooqui
Research Assistance: Lola Conte, Nour Abuzaid, Merve Yuçel Bayer, Dimitra Andritsou, Nicholas Masterton, Davide
Piscitelli, Omar Ferwati
Project Support: Samaneh Moafi, Robert Trafford, Sarah Nankivell, Elizabeth Breiner
Project Supervision: Eyal Weizman

Extended Team:
Additional research undertaken by: Manon Louis, Peter Teunissen, John Nightingale, Laszlo K, Annie Molloy
Voiceover: Lasonas Apostolopoulos
Voiceover Recording and Mastering: Ilias Vamvakousis, Manolis Pantelias
Thanks to: Mitchel Paquette, Sam Dubberley, Bashar Deeb, Klaas Van Dijken, Daniel Howden, Nick Waters, Marianna Tzeferakou, Natassa Strachini, Zübeyir Koçulu, Elli Kriona Saranti, Niamh Teady-Cabal, Valentina Azarova, Itamar Mann, Mark Snoeck, Giorgos Christides, Erik Marquardt