NGOs after today’s briefing of the UN Committee against Torture
Oral statement to UN CAT
on Greece’s compliance with the Convention against Torture
23 July 2019
From the reports submitted to your Committee it is obvious that this year’s conclusions of CAT on Greece should be identical with the 2012 observations: “The Committee expresses its serious concern at persistent allegations of torture and ill-treatment by law enforcement officials during arrest or detention, including in the premises of the Criminal Investigation Departments (CID). The Committee is also concerned at the limited number of such cases that have been prosecuted, the very limited number of final convictions, and the lack of sanctions in cases with convictions due to mitigating circumstances etc. The Committee notes that this does not correspond to recent decisions and rulings from international bodies, including the Human Rights Committee and the European Court of Human Rights, as well as persistent allegations and extensive documentation received from other sources. The Committee also reiterates its concern at the continued reluctance of prosecutors to institute criminal proceedings under article 137A of the criminal code and that only one case has resulted in a conviction under this article.”
Things have only deteriorated since then. We have submitted to you well-documented evidence from a very large number of, mainly international, NGOs, corroborated by CPT, of more than 1,000 individual or group claims of ill-treatment and/or illegal destruction of documents and/or deportation in unprecedented systematic police violence and illegal deportation of asylum seekers in the Evros border area with Turkey in recent years. Until now the Greek Ombudsman, Hellenic Police and Prosecutors have persisted in rejecting all such claims after non-transparent internal investigations that have never involved the victims and/or the NGOs involved.
We have also provided you with details of a specific case that both the Human Rights Committee and the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights have included in letters to Greek authorities. It concerns the torture in October 2016 of three Roma who have been denied a forensic examination even though both they and GHM have repeatedly requested it from all competent authorities. They have also not testified in the criminal investigation that has been pending since, while the administrative investigation by the Greek Ombudsman requested by GHM was summarily archived as the file was lost, without promptly informing GHM.
Additionally, we have provided the Committee with documentation on the continuing failure of Greek authorities to implement first the Makaratzis group of 13 ECtHR judgments holding Greece responsible for “the use of potentially lethal force by the police in the absence of an adequate legislative and administrative framework governing the use of firearms, torture and ill-treatment by police and coastguards and absence of adequate investigation, prosecution and remedy.” Greece has moreover failed to offer adequate remedies to the Roma vindicated by three HRCttee Views. Likewise, Greece continues to fail in its obligations, including answering a question by your Committee, related to the 502 missing Albanian Roma children.
Finally, we have reported to the Committee that Greece has failed to adapt the definition of torture to that of the Convention and to include rape therein, while the ensuing penalties for torture have been reduced, from 5-20 years to 5-10 years in new Penal code. Whereas there is grave concern about the widespread practice of police officers and prosecutors turning away women who seek to report alleged gender violence; frequently, subsequently, the perpetrators engaged in more violent if not fatal such actions against the same or other women.