Human Rights in Greece: A Snapshot of the Cradle of Democracy (Hearing at US Congress)

WASHINGTON – The United States Helsinki Commission will conduct a hearing to highlight the human rights developments and the prospects for further improvement in Greece, an original signatory to the 1975 Helsinki Final Act.

Human Rights in Greece: A Snapshot of the Cradle of Democracy

11:30 AM – 1:30 PM

Thursday, June 20, 2002

334 Cannon House Office Building

Witnesses:

Mania Telalian, Legal Advisor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Dimitrios Moschopoulos, Counselor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Vassilios Tsirbas, Senior Counsel for the European Centre for Law and Justice

Adamantia Pollis, PhD, Professor Emerita, New School University

Panayote Dimitras, founding member and spokesperson, Greek Helsinki Monitor & Minority Rights Group – Greece. Director, Center for Documentation and Information on Minorities in Europe-Southeast Europe

Topics of the hearing will include minority rights; religious liberty; freedom of the media; human trafficking; and domestic terrorism.

As Athens prepares to host the 2004 Summer Olympic Games, Roma have been uprooted from villages and areas around Athens in a “beautification” effort. Other ethnic and religious minorities face discrimination and harassment in Greece, the most homogeneous country in the Balkans.

There are an estimated 40,000 women and girls trafficked into Greece each year, many of them underage and living in virtual servitude after being forced or tricked into leaving their home countries. The government has recently introduced legislation to combat trafficking in persons, but the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report released on June 5 has ranked Greece as a Tier 3 country indicating that there have not been significant efforts to meet minimum anti-trafficking standards.

Freedom House recently ranked Greece last in media freedom among free countries, citing a pattern of criminal defamation lawsuits against journalists, some being sentenced to prison for their reporting.