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human rights violations in Greece


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In an August-September 2005 visit [to Greece], the The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture(CPT) examined the treatment of persons detained by law enforcement authorities, focusing in particular on detention facilities for illegal immigrants in the eastern Aegean and Thrace. The delegation visited prisons, police detention centers, police stations, holding facilities for illegal immigrants, and psychiatric hospitals. The CPT released its report in December which found that most detention centers for illegal immigrants it visited were in a poor state of repair, unhygienic, and lacking in basic amenities. The CPT noted that prisons remained largely overcrowded and that inter-prison violence appeared to be on the rise. The CPT reported that conditions of detention in police establishments generally were unsatisfactory, and in certain cases amounted to inhuman or degrading treatment. The CPT found that facilities designed for holding suspects for short periods were used for holding persons for prolonged periods. The CPT recommended measures to stamp out ill-treatment by law enforcement officials that included investigating allegations of ill-treatment thoroughly and, where appropriate, imposing disciplinary and criminal sanctions. The committee also recommended the establishment of an independent police inspectorate and rigorous recruitment and training programs for the police. The CPT also found that detention establishments of the Coast Guard on the islands of Chios and Mytilini were unacceptable, because metal containers lacking functioning hygienic facilities and natural light and ventilation were used to hold irregular immigrants. The CPT recommended that containers should never be used to hold persons for more than a few hours and should always be equipped with suitable facilities and ventilation.

In November-December 2005, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights examined the treatment of persons detained by law enforcement authorities, focusing on detention facilities for illegal immigrants in Attica,Greece. The delegation visited police detention centers, holding facilities for illegal immigrants, and Romani camps. The commissioner noted that overcrowding in prisons had increased. The deputy ombudsman for human rights described conditions in the detention centers as "an insult to human dignity." During a separate mission, in December 2005, the commissioner noted that the situation had not improved. Although the Attica police station was no longer used as a holding center due to its poor conditions, the replacement, a newly constructed facility at Petrou-Ralli designed as a short-term detention and transit facility, was only marginally better. The Council of Europe commissioner and the CPT found that the new facility, used to detain foreigners awaiting deportation, was unsuitable for stays over two days. In practice foreigners were confined for three months in cells that contained up to eight persons with only bunks for furniture, very limited access to showers, and only brief exercise possibilities. The CPT noted that the design of the facility was extremely poor, that it was suffering from a total lack of communal spaces, and characterized it as a missed opportunity for authorities to construct an appropriately designed center for administrative detention of aliens. In its 2006 annual report, Amnesty International (AI) and the CPT stated that detention conditions for aliens, including asylum seekers, irregular migrants, and unaccompanied minors, in some cases "may have amounted to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment," and that overcrowding remained a serious problem.

At the Hellenikon holding center for irregular immigrants a man has been detained for almost one and a half years without being able to communicate with anyone; he appeared to have developed symptoms of mental illness. The CPT delegation reported that this man had been placed in a cage-like cell for several months. In April 120 alien detainees in the main Thessaloniki detention center protested overcrowding conditions and lack of access to proper sanitation in the facility. Disciplinary actions were initiated in late September 2005 against two police officers who disturbed four jailed Muslims during prayer at the police detention center in Aspropyrgos. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reiterated observations about overcrowding and poor conditions in detention centers during the year. The CPT reported that conditions in Peplos (Thrace) and the island of Mytilini (Aegean) detention centers were unacceptable, and found multiple shortcomings at the Chios Judicial prison. There were reports that juveniles seeking asylum were held with adults.


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I don't know what to make of this one.

The reports about poor-quality prisons and holding cells may well be true. However, it fails to address (even mention) the difficulties that the Greek government have encountered due to the huge number of illegal immigrants landing on Greece's shores. This is hardly the Greek governments fault. Why should they be expected to spend their citizens' tax revenues on a bottemless pit of holding facilities ? They are elected to look after Greeks, not waves of illegal migrants.

It's a shame the report doesn't go further and recommend solutions. What do they expect the Greeks to do ? Sink the approaching trafficking ships so that (live) immigrants don't make it to shore ? Put them all in lorries and sneak them into Germany or France ?

ACtually, this is one arena where an organisation like the EU could be useful. Either help Greece guard its frontiers, or give money to provide holding facilities, or (and this is Cats favourite) run an education campaign throughout North Africa (and especially the coastal regions) telling would-be migrants to ignore the fairy tales told by the human traffikers, and explaining that Europe is NOT a land of milk and honey.

There is a coastal country in West Africa that has almost no fishing industry left. The fishing-boat-building industry is - however - running at full capacity. (to provide vessels for would be migrants). Start THERE... not on the Greek coast.

Meow Purr.

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