01.09.2016 – News
In its report on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination about Greece, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) (the body of independent experts overseeing compliance) used information from the FUEN Resolution about the Turkish minority in Rhodes and Kos that was adopted at the Assembly of Delegates of the Federal Union of European Nationalities, which took place in Wrocław / Breslau on 21 May 2016.
The resolution was also included in a parallel report on Greece’s compliance with the Convention, submitted by the Greek Helsinki Monitor and other Greek human rights organisations.
The Committee wrote the following about the situation of minorities in Greece:
10. The Committee is concerned that Muslims living in Thrace region covered by the provisions of the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 and who belong to various ethnicities are recognized only as a religious minority by the State party. The Committee is also concerned that other Muslims including those living in the islands of Rhodes and Kos, and not covered by the Treaty of Lausanne, may be denied the right to self-identification and therefore cannot fully enjoy their rights under the Convention. As a result the effective enjoyment by persons belonging to ethnic minorities of their rights to preserve their language, culture and freedom of association is curtailed (arts. 1, 2 and 5).
11. Notwithstanding the explanation provided by the State party that ethnic groups are not considered as minorities, the Committee believes that in a multi-ethnic society recognition of ethnic groups of smaller size may help them to protect their existence and their identity. The Committee also notes that the Treaty of Lausanne does not prohibit the consideration of other groups as minorities nor does it prevent persons belonging to various ethnic groups to exercise their right to self-identification. The Committee therefore recommends that the State party review its position and consider recognizing other groups that may qualify as being ethnic, or religious minorities, and encourages the State party to implement the relevant decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.
Other points of critique included the fact that the new anti-racism law No. 4285/2014 is not fully compliant with the requirements of the Convention, as it does not criminalise the dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority and does not provide for a procedure to declare illegal, and prohibit, racist organizations. This is particularly problematic in regard to the Golden Dawn political party, which the Committee classifies as the most prominent racist organization, inspired directly by neo-Nazi ideas. Furthermore the Committee is concerned that austerity measures taken to address the economic crisis in the State party generated disproportionate impact on minority groups
Almost all the United Nations Member States (177 out of 197) ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and all these States are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. The Committee examines these reports and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations”.