Ευρωκόλαφος για ανεκτέλεστες αποφάσεις ΕΔΔΑ για βία αστυνομικών – λιμενικών και απαγόρευση τουρκικών ενώσεων

Το Ελληνικό Παρατηρητήριο των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ) καλεί κυβέρνηση, κόμματα και πλειοψηφία ΜΜΕ και κοινωνίας πολιτών, αντί να πανηγυρίζουν κατά τη σημερινή Παγκόσμια Ημέρα Ανθρώπινων Δικαιωμάτων, να σκύψουν πάνω στις αυστηρές έως ταπεινωτικές για την Ελλάδα συνολικά αποφάσεις της Επιτροπής Υπουργών του Συμβουλίου της Ευρώπης που πάρθηκαν την περασμένη εβδομάδα για την πάνω από δεκαετία μη συμμόρφωση με σωρεία καταδικαστικών αποφάσεων του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου Δικαιωμάτων του Ανθρώπου (ΕΔΔΑ) που αφορούν ατιμωρησία αστυνομικών και λιμενικών που έκαναν βασανιστήρια ή κακομεταχείριση και διάλυση ή άρνηση εγγραφής τουρκικών μειονοτικών ενώσεων. Τα πλήρη κείμενα των αποφάσεων της 6 Δεκεμβρίου 2018 (που αποσιώπησαν ΟΛΑ τα ΜΜΕ) ακολουθούν σε μετάφραση του ΕΠΣΕ το οποίο με συνεχείς τεκμηριωμένες παρεμβάσεις του έπαιξε καθοριστικό ρόλο στη διαμόρφωση των αποφάσεων αυτών. Οι παρεμβάσεις του ΕΠΣΕ και οι αποφάσεις της ΕΥ είναι διαθέσιμες στις ιστοσελίδες:

https://greekhelsinki.wordpress.com/tag/makaratzis/
http://hudoc.exec.coe.int/ENG?i=004-15563 (σχετική ιστοσελίδα Επιτροπής Υπουργών)

https://greekhelsinki.wordpress.com/tag/bekir-ousta-and-others/
http://hudoc.exec.coe.int/ENG?i=004-15568 (σχετική ιστοσελίδα Επιτροπής Υπουργών)

1. Ατιμωρησία αστυνομικών και λιμενικών για χρήση βίας

  • Η Ελλάδα ελέγχεται γιατί έχει σύντομες προθεσμίες παραγραφής αδικημάτων για βασανιστήρια και κακομεταχείριση και έτσι δεν μπορεί να επανεξετάσει τις υποθέσεις που οδήγησαν σε καταδίκες από το ΕΔΔΑ, πλην της μόνης για την οποία υπάρχει καταδίκη από ελληνικά δικαστήρια για βασανιστήρια που δεν έχουν παραγραφή (υπόθεση Σιδηρόπουλου – Παπακώστα για βασανιστήρια με ηλεκτροσόκ το 2002).
  • Ζητείται από την Ελλάδα ενημέρωση για το αν παρέμειναν στην υπηρεσία οι αστυνομικοί και οι λιμενικοί δράστες των βασανιστηρίων και της κακομεταχείρισης στις 13 υποθέσεις που οδήγησαν σε καταδικαστικές αποφάσεις από το ΕΔΔΑ (για 9 από αυτές οι προσφυγές έγιναν από το ΕΠΣΕ).
  • Χαιρετίζεται η πρόθεση της κυβέρνησης να ζητηθεί συγγνώμη από τα θύματα βασανιστηρίων και κακομεταχείρισης και αναμένεται η υλοποίησή της.
  • Ζητείται ενημέρωση για την αποτελεσματικότητα του Συνηγόρου του Πολίτη ως νέου μηχανισμού διερεύνησης των σχετικών καταγγελιών καθώς και για τον αντίκτυπο της εισαγωγής του ρατσιστικού κινήτρου στη διερεύνηση αυτών των υποθέσεων.
  • Ζητείται ενημέρωση για τα μέτρα για την ευθυγράμμιση του ορισμού των βασανιστηρίων με τις διεθνείς συμβάσεις και για την αφαίρεση της δυνατότητας μετατροπής ποινών φυλάκισης που επιβάλλονται για βασανιστήρια και άλλες μορφές κακομεταχείρισης σε πρόστιμα.

2. Απαγόρευση λειτουργίας τουρκικών μειονοτικών ενώσεων

  • Εκφράζεται λύπη για τη συνεχιζόμενη απαγόρευση λειτουργίας τουρκικών μειονοτικών ενώσεων και τη συνεχιζόμενη άρνηση συμμόρφωσης με τις αποφάσεις του ΕΔΔΑ ακόμα και μετά την εισαγωγή νομοθεσίας για την επανεξέταση των υποθέσεων αυτών που αγνόησε το Εφετείο Θράκης αρνούμενο την άρση διάλυσης της Τουρκικής Ένωσης Ξάνθης.
  • Εκφράζεται βαθιά λύπη γιατί, περιφρονώντας τη νομολογία του ΕΔΔΑ, τα ελληνικά δικαστήρια μέχρι και τον Άρειο Πάγο το 2017 αρνήθηκαν την εγγραφή του Πολιτιστικού Συλλόγου Τούρκων Γυναικών Νομού Ξάνθης.
  • Καλείται η Ελλάδα να φροντίσει ώστε να αποφασίζει για τα θέματα αυτά η δικαιοσύνη σεβόμενη την Ευρωπαϊκή Σύμβαση Δικαιωμάτων του Ανθρώπου (ΕΣΔΑ) και τις αποφάσεις του ΕΔΔΑ και για το λόγο αυτό να προχωρήσει και σε κατάρτιση των δικαστών στην ΕΣΔΑ και στην υποχρέωση συμμόρφωσης με τις αποφάσεις του ΕΔΔΑ.
  • Λόγω της σοβαρότητας της υπόθεσης αποφασίστηκε να επανεξετασθεί η συμμόρφωση της Ελλάδας κατεπειγόντως το Σεπτέμβριο 2019.

Συμβούλιο της Ευρώπης – Απόφαση Επιτροπής Υπουργών: Επίβλεψη εκτέλεσης αποφάσεων ΕΔΔΑ Μακαρατζής κτλ. κατά Ελλάδας (βία αστυνομικών – λιμενικών)


ΕΠΙΤΡΟΠΗ ΥΠΟΥΡΓΩΝ ΤΟΥ ΣΥΜΒΟΥΛΙΟΥ ΤΗΣ ΕΥΡΩΠΗΣ

ΑΝΑΠΛΗΡΩΤΕΣ ΥΠΟΥΡΓΩΝ

Αποφάσεις

CM/Del/Δεκ(2018)1331/H46-13

6 Δεκεμβρίου 2018

1331η συνεδρίαση, 4-6 Δεκεμβρίου 2018 (ΑΔ)

H46-12 Ομάδα αποφάσεων Μακαρατζής κ.λπ. κατά Ελλάδας
(Προσφυγές υπ’ αριθ. 50385/99 κτλ.)

Επίβλεψη της εκτέλεσης των αποφάσεων του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου

Αποφάσεις

Οι Αναπληρωτές

1. υπενθυμίζοντας ότι αυτές οι υποθέσεις αφορούν τη χρήση δυνητικά θανατηφόρας βίας και κακομεταχείρισης από όργανα επιβολής του νόμου καθώς και την έλλειψη αποτελεσματικών ερευνών ικανών να οδηγήσουν σε επαρκείς πειθαρχικές και ποινικές κυρώσεις·

Όσον αφορά τα ατομικά μέτρα

2. υπενθυμίζουν με λύπη ότι, λόγω των ισχυόντων κανόνων παραγραφής, δεν είναι δυνατή η επανεξέταση υπερβολικά επιεικών καταδικαστικών αποφάσεων ή αναποτελεσματικών ποινικών ανακρίσεων (ειδικότερα της πρόσφατης υπόθεσης Andersen).

3. εκφράζουν επίσης τη λύπη τους για το γεγονός ότι στην υπόθεση Zontul, λόγω της τότε ισχύουσας ελληνικής νομοθεσίας, η επανεξέταση της ποινικής καταδίκης των λιμενικών υπεύθυνων για προσβολή της σεξουαλικής αξιοπρέπειας δεν θα επέτρεπε να ληφθεί υπόψη η διαπίστωση του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου ότι τα γεγονότα αποτελούσαν βασανιστήρια κατά την έννοια του άρθρου 3 της Σύμβασης, καθώς στην έννοια των βασανιστηρίων στην ελληνική νομοθεσία δεν περιλαμβάνονταν τα πραγματικά περιστατικά της υπόθεσης· σημείωσαν ωστόσο με ικανοποίηση την απόφαση του Συνήγορου του Πολίτη να επαναλάβει τις πειθαρχικές έρευνες σχετικά με τις συνέπειες των εν λόγω πράξεων·

4. εξέφρασαν τη λύπη τους για το γεγονός ότι σε όλες τις περιπτώσεις – εκτός από εκείνες των Σιδηρόπουλου – Παπακώστα και Andersen – η επανάληψη των πειθαρχικών ερευνών δεν ήταν δυνατή λόγω του ότι τα αδικήματα είχαν παραγραφεί·

5. κάλεσαν τις αρχές να ενημερώσουν την Επιτροπή μέχρι την 1η Σεπτεμβρίου 2019 για την επανεξέταση των πειθαρχικών ερευνών σχετικά με τις υποθέσεις Σιδηρόπουλου – Παπακώστα και Andersen·

6. επισημαίνοντας επίσης την ιδιαίτερη πολυπλοκότητα του ζητήματος παραγραφής στην υπόθεση Zontul, κάλεσαν τις αρχές να υποβάλουν στην Επιτροπή έως την 1η Σεπτεμβρίου 2019 τα πλήρη πορίσματα του Λιμενικού Σώματος σχετικά με την επανάληψη της πειθαρχικής διαδικασίας, ιδίως όσον αφορά την παραμονή στην υπηρεσία των υπευθύνων·

7. χαιρέτισαν την πρόθεση των αρχών να ζητήσουν από τους επικεφαλής των υπηρεσιών που εμπλέκονται σε βασανιστήρια και άλλες μορφές κακομεταχείρισης να ζητήσουν γραπτή συγγνώμη από τους προσφεύγοντες· κάλεσαν τις αρχές να ενημερώσουν την Επιτροπή μέχρι την 1η Σεπτεμβρίου 2019 για οποιαδήποτε περαιτέρω εξέλιξη·

Όσον αφορά τα γενικά μέτρα

8. κάλεσαν τις αρχές να εντείνουν τις συνεχιζόμενες προσπάθειές τους για την εξάλειψη όλων των μορφών κακομεταχείρισης από τα όργανα επιβολής του νόμου, λαμβάνοντας δεόντως υπόψη τις συστάσεις της CPT και τις κάλεσαν να παράσχουν στην Επιτροπή συγκεκριμένες και λεπτομερείς πληροφορίες σχετικά με τα ληφθέντα ή προβλεπόμενα μέτρα σε απάντηση στις αποφάσεις του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου στις υποθέσεις αυτές·

9. όσον αφορά την αποτελεσματικότητα των ερευνών, κάλεσαν τις αρχές να υποβάλουν έως την 1η Σεπτεμβρίου 2019 λεπτομερείς πληροφορίες σχετικά με τα ακόλουθα θέματα:

α) την αναστολή της παραγραφής για αξιόποινες πράξεις που σχετίζονται με παραβάσεις παρόμοιες με εκείνες στις υπό κρίση υποθέσεις·

β) τη γενική δυνατότητα επανέναρξης πειθαρχικών ερευνών σε περιπτώσεις όπου έχει ήδη αποφασισθεί ποινική ή πειθαρχική ευθύνη, λαμβανομένης υπόψη της αρχής ne bis in idem που κατοχυρώνεται στον νόμο 4443/2016·

γ) την αποτελεσματικότητα του νέου μηχανισμού καταγγελίας (Συνηγόρου του Πολίτη), ιδίως υπό το πρίσμα των αποτελεσμάτων των ερευνών επί των καταγγελιών που υποβλήθηκαν μετά την έναρξη λειτουργίας του μηχανισμού στις 9 Ιουνίου 2017·

δ) τον αντίκτυπο της νέας ενισχυμένης νομοθετικής προστασίας κατά του ρατσιστικού εγκλήματος και τα ενδεχόμενα νέα μέτρα που προβλέπονται για τη διασφάλιση της διερεύνησης πιθανών ρατσιστικών κινήτρων όταν παρουσιάζεται κακομεταχείριση στο πλαίσιο της επιβολής του νόμου·

ε) το κατά πόσον οι αποφάσεις για την περάτωση ποινικών ανακρίσεων λόγω παραγραφής μπορούν να υποβληθούν σε δικαστική ή άλλη ανεξάρτητη επανεξέταση·

στ) τα μέτρα που ελήφθησαν ή σχεδιάστηκαν στο πλαίσιο της τρέχουσας αναθεώρησης του Ποινικού Κώδικα, προκειμένου να ευθυγραμμιστεί πλήρως η διεξαγωγή των ποινικών ανακρίσεων σε περιπτώσεις κακομεταχείρισης και οι σχετικές κυρώσεις με τις απαιτήσεις της νομολογίας του Δικαστηρίου, ιδίως όσον αφορά τον ορισμό των βασανιστηρίων και τις δυνατότητες μετατροπής ποινών φυλάκισης που επιβάλλονται για βασανιστήρια και άλλες μορφές κακομεταχείρισης σε ποινές μη στερητικές της ελευθερίας.

[Μετάφραση στα ελληνικά από το Ελληνικό Παρατηρητήριο των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ) από το αγγλικό πρωτότυπο διαθέσιμο εδώ] 


 

Συμβούλιο της Ευρώπης – Απόφαση Επιτροπής Υπουργών: Επίβλεψη εκτέλεσης αποφάσεων ΕΔΔΑ Bekir-Ousta κτλ. κατά Ελλάδας (τουρκικές ενώσεις)


ΕΠΙΤΡΟΠΗ ΥΠΟΥΡΓΩΝ ΤΟΥ ΣΥΜΒΟΥΛΙΟΥ ΤΗΣ ΕΥΡΩΠΗΣ

ΑΝΑΠΛΗΡΩΤΕΣ ΥΠΟΥΡΓΩΝ

Αποφάσεις

CM/Del/Δεκ(2018)1331/Η46-12

6 Δεκεμβρίου 2018

1331η συνεδρίαση, 4-6 Δεκεμβρίου 2018 (ΑΔ)

H46-12 Ομάδα αποφάσεων Bekir-Ousta κ.λπ. κατά Ελλάδας
(Προσφυγές υπ’ αριθ. 35151/05 κτλ)

Επίβλεψη της εκτέλεσης των αποφάσεων του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου

 

Αποφάσεις

Οι Αναπληρωτές

1. υπενθυμίζοντας ότι οι υποθέσεις αυτές αφορούν παραβιάσεις του δικαιώματος της ελευθερίας του συνεταιρίζεσθαι λόγω της άρνησης των εθνικών δικαστηρίων να εγκρίνουν ενώσεις και της απόφασης που οδηγεί στη διάλυση ενός σωματείου·

Όσον αφορά τα ατομικά μέτρα

2. εκφράζουν τη λύπη του για το γεγονός ότι, παρά τις προσπάθειες που κατέβαλαν οι αρχές, και ιδίως την τροποποίηση του Κώδικα Πολιτικής Δικονομίας το 2017, δέκα χρόνια μετά την έκδοση των αποφάσεων του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου, δύο από τις ενώσεις αυτές παραμένουν χωρίς έγκριση και μία διαλυμένη.

3. υπενθυμίζοντας ότι η υποχρέωση ενός συμβαλλομένου κράτους βάσει του άρθρου 46 της Σύμβασης να συμμορφώνεται πλήρως και αποτελεσματικά με τις αποφάσεις του Δικαστηρίου εκτείνεται στην ερμηνεία της εσωτερικής νομοθεσίας από τα εθνικά δικαστήρια, σημείωσαν την πρόσφατη απόφαση του Εφετείου Θράκης που απορρίπτει για διαδικαστικούς λόγους την αίτηση επανεξέτασης της απόφασης διάλυσης μιας από τις αιτούσες ενώσεις· σημείωσαν ωστόσο ότι έχει ασκηθεί προσφυγή κατά της απόφασης αυτής και ότι εκκρεμεί ενώπιον του Αρείου Πάγου·

4. κάλεσαν τις αρχές να λάβουν γρήγορα όλα τα αναγκαία μέτρα ώστε οι υποθέσεις των αιτουσών να εξετάζονται από τα εθνικά δικαστήρια σε πλήρη και ουσιαστική συμμόρφωση με το άρθρο 11 της Σύμβασης και τις αποφάσεις του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου και να ενημερώνεται η Επιτροπή για όλες τις σχετικές εξελίξεις .

5. κάλεσαν τις αρχές να παρέχουν τακτικά πληροφορίες σχετικά με τις περαιτέρω εξελίξεις σε όλες τις εν εξελίξει διαδικασίες σχετικά με αυτήν την ομάδα υποθέσεων ·

Όσον αφορά τα γενικά μέτρα

6. σημείωσαν με βαθιά λύπη ότι η εγγραφή άλλης ένωσης στην περιοχή της Θράκης απορρίφθηκε το 2017 με τελική απόφαση του Αρείου Πάγου για λόγους που ήδη επικρίθηκαν από το Ευρωπαϊκό Δικαστήριο στις αποφάσεις του του 2008 σχετικά με τις παρούσες υποθέσεις ·

7. παροτρύνουν επομένως τις αρχές να λάβουν πρόσθετα μέτρα, όπως η ευρεία διάδοση της νομολογίας του Δικαστηρίου και η συστηματική κατάρτιση των εθνικών δικαστών σε όλα τα επίπεδα, προκειμένου να διασφαλιστεί ότι τα εθνικά δικαστήρια λαμβάνουν αποφάσεις σχετικά με την εγγραφή ή τη διάλυση ενώσεων εναρμονισμένα πλήρως και αποτελεσματικά με τη νομολογία του Δικαστηρίου και να ενημερώνουν την Επιτροπή για περαιτέρω εξελίξεις ·

8. αποφάσισαν να επαναλάβουν την εξέταση αυτής της ομάδας υποθέσεων κατά την πρώτη συνεδρίαση μετά την έκδοση της απόφασης του Αρείου Πάγου σε απάντηση της προαναφερθείσας προσφυγής που υπέβαλε μία από τις αιτούσες ενώσεις ή κατά την 1354η συνεδρίασή της (Σεπτέμβριος 2019) (DH) το αργότερο.

[Μετάφραση στα ελληνικά από το Ελληνικό Παρατηρητήριο των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ) από το αγγλικό πρωτότυπο διαθέσιμο εδώ


 

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Council of Europe: Torture reform needed in Greece

20181207_222634

Necati Zontul

Council of Europe: Torture reform needed in Greece

The Council of Europe has re-emphasised the need for Greece to improve its law and practice on the prosecution of torture. In a decision issued on 6 December 2018, the Committee of Ministers increased the pressure on Greece to implement the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights in Zontul v Greece and several other cases.

The required reforms would provide greater access to justice for the victims of torture and ill-treatment in Greece, particularly migrants and refugees. Greece is a major point of entry for those trying to reach Europe.

The decision also noted the welcome news that the Greek government will seek to apologise formally to the victims of torture and ill-treatment.

In 2001, Necati Zontul, a Turkish man, was travelling on a boat with other migrants when he was intercepted by Greek coastguards. The coastguards then detained the passengers in a disused school in Crete. A week into Necati’s detention a coastguard trapped him in a toilet and raped him with a truncheon, while another guard kept lookout.

Following a flawed domestic investigation and prosecution of the Coastguard officers responsible for his treatment, REDRESS helped Necati to bring a case against Greece at the European Court of Human Rights.

The ECHR heavily criticised the Greek authorities for their internal investigation of the incident, in which they falsified Necati’s evidence, and for the lenient penalty imposed on the perpetrator of the rape – a suspended sentence commuted to a small fine.

The ECHR found in favour of Necati in 2012, recognising that rape can be a particularly cruel form of torture, and that Greece did not adequately punish the perpetrators or afford redress to Necati. It concluded that Greece had breached Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case also found that Greek law was incompatible with the country’s international obligations to prevent and prosecute torture.

The Council of Europe’s decision

In October 2018 REDRESS filed a submission with the Committee of Ministers, the body responsible for supervising the implementation of European Court of Human Rights’ decisions. The submission addressed Greece’s failure to implement the 2012 judgment.

The decision issued by the Committee of Ministers on 6 December 2018 called upon the Greek authorities “to intensify their ongoing efforts to eradicate all forms of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials”.

It made detailed requests to the Greek Government that reinforced a number of the reforms needed, in particular that Greece should:

  • ensure the effectiveness of investigations into torture;
  • reform its law on torture to make it compatible with Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights; and
  • ensure that sanctions for torture and ill-treatment in Greece are sufficiently punitive.

Charlie Loudon, REDRESS’ International Legal Adviser, said:

“These reforms are necessary to ensure that no others are subjected to the same torture that Necati had to suffer, and that those responsible for the torture of Necati and others are held to account for their actions. Greece must demonstrate that it is complying with the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and that it is meeting its obligations under international law.”

The Council of Europe’s decision is available here.

REDRESS’s submission to the Committee of Ministers is available here.

More information about Necati’s case can be found here.

Humanists present Freedom of Thought Report in the European Parliament

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Posted on the 06/12/18

The European Humanist Federation and the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) presented the Freedom of Thought Report 2018, this year’s edition of the yearly status report prepared by the IHEU.

The report documents the discriminations faced by people around the world because of their non-religious beliefs. It covers every independent country in the world and looks at issues like how freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression and association are respected in law and in practice.

The event was hosted by MEPs Sophie In’t Veld and Virginie Rozière who welcomed a panel of speakers stemming from very different horizons. Together, they shed light on the many discriminations that non-believers, free thinkers and humanists face across the world today.

Among the speakers, Bob Churchill, Communications Director at the IHEU and main editor of the report provided an overview of the many persecutions, discriminations death and jail sentences endured by many non-believers in a number of countries. He emphasized the 19 countries in the world that brutally repress the expression of humanist values. He called the attention of the audience on the fact that 6 countries in the world punish apostasy with prison sentences and 12 others 12 with death. He added that 71 countries punish blasphemy, out of which 7 with a death sentence. Moreover, in 34 countries in the world, law is partly or entirely derived from religion and in 30 countries in the world, it is difficult or illegal to run a humanist organization.

Jan Figel, Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) outside the EU, reminded the audience that Freedom of Religion or Belief includes the freedom not to believe or to change one’s religion. He also explained his view that the level of respect for Freedom of Religion or Belief in a country is a test for the level of democracy in general, as FoRB encompasses many fundamentals such as freedom of expression or freedom of assembly. He also emphasized that in his view instead of a confrontative approach with countries violating FoRB, a more encouraging approach should be adopted with those where change is happening.

The highlight of the event however was the testimonies provided by two atheist activists who fled their countries because of death threats from Islamists.

Karrar Hamza Al Asfoor, an Iraqi atheist activist who manages one of the largest atheist Facebook groups of his country told about the doubts he experienced since early childhood about the contradictions of his family’s faith, Islam. He explained that relinquishing his faith and how this cost him his entire social life. He became a known activist managing large atheist, feminist and pro-LGBT Facebook groups in Irak. After having fled to Greece, he is struggling against Islamist attempts to shut down his atheist Facebook groups arguing that the fact that most people in these groups – understandably – use fake identities,  violates Facebook’s terms of services. Many groups have already been shut down in this way

His contributions were complemented by Nacer Amari, a Tunisian human rights activist, Co-Founder of United Atheists of Europe and Prometheus Europe. Mr. Amari explained that despite a reputation of being quite secularized Tunisia still has a blasphemy law, there still is a state religion declared in Article 1 of the Constitution and public office can be held only by Muslims. Many other examples exist.

The panel was concluded by Giulio Ercolessi, President of the European Humanist Federation who called for breaking the populist and extremist views that see all those coming to our countries as necessarily opposite and different from us. On the contrary, he emphasized that many who come to Europe appreciate our European open societies, our civic values and our rule of law more than populist politicians.

For more information, please visit the website: https://freethoughtreport.com/

Συμβούλιο της Ευρώπης – Απόφαση Επιτροπής Υπουργών: Επίβλεψη εκτέλεσης αποφάσεων ΕΔΔΑ Μακαρατζής κτλ. κατά Ελλάδας (βία αστυνομικών – λιμενικών)

ΕΠΙΤΡΟΠΗ ΥΠΟΥΡΓΩΝ ΤΟΥ ΣΥΜΒΟΥΛΙΟΥ ΤΗΣ ΕΥΡΩΠΗΣ

ΑΝΑΠΛΗΡΩΤΕΣ ΥΠΟΥΡΓΩΝ

Αποφάσεις

CM/Del/Δεκ(2018)1331/H46-13

6 Δεκεμβρίου 2018

1331η συνεδρίαση, 4-6 Δεκεμβρίου 2018 (ΑΔ)

H46-12 Ομάδα αποφάσεων Μακαρατζής κ.λπ. κατά Ελλάδας
(Προσφυγές υπ’ αριθ. 50385/99 κτλ.)

Επίβλεψη της εκτέλεσης των αποφάσεων του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου

Αποφάσεις

Οι Αναπληρωτές

1. υπενθυμίζοντας ότι αυτές οι υποθέσεις αφορούν τη χρήση δυνητικά θανατηφόρας βίας και κακομεταχείρισης από όργανα επιβολής του νόμου καθώς και την έλλειψη αποτελεσματικών ερευνών ικανών να οδηγήσουν σε επαρκείς πειθαρχικές και ποινικές κυρώσεις·

Όσον αφορά τα ατομικά μέτρα

2. υπενθυμίζουν με λύπη ότι, λόγω των ισχυόντων κανόνων παραγραφής, δεν είναι δυνατή η επανεξέταση υπερβολικά επιεικών καταδικαστικών αποφάσεων ή αναποτελεσματικών ποινικών ανακρίσεων (ειδικότερα της πρόσφατης υπόθεσης Andersen).

3. εκφράζουν επίσης τη λύπη τους για το γεγονός ότι στην υπόθεση Zontul, λόγω της τότε ισχύουσας ελληνικής νομοθεσίας, η επανεξέταση της ποινικής καταδίκης των λιμενικών υπεύθυνων για προσβολή της σεξουαλικής αξιοπρέπειας δεν θα επέτρεπε να ληφθεί υπόψη η διαπίστωση του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου ότι τα γεγονότα αποτελούσαν βασανιστήρια κατά την έννοια του άρθρου 3 της Σύμβασης, καθώς στην έννοια των βασανιστηρίων στην ελληνική νομοθεσία δεν περιλαμβάνονταν τα πραγματικά περιστατικά της υπόθεσης· σημείωσαν ωστόσο με ικανοποίηση την απόφαση του Συνήγορου του Πολίτη να επαναλάβει τις πειθαρχικές έρευνες σχετικά με τις συνέπειες των εν λόγω πράξεων·

4. εξέφρασαν τη λύπη τους για το γεγονός ότι σε όλες τις περιπτώσεις – εκτός από εκείνες των Σιδηρόπουλου – Παπακώστα και Andersen – η επανάληψη των πειθαρχικών ερευνών δεν ήταν δυνατή λόγω του ότι τα αδικήματα είχαν παραγραφεί·

5. κάλεσαν τις αρχές να ενημερώσουν την Επιτροπή μέχρι την 1η Σεπτεμβρίου 2019 για την επανεξέταση των πειθαρχικών ερευνών σχετικά με τις υποθέσεις Σιδηρόπουλου – Παπακώστα και Andersen·

6. επισημαίνοντας επίσης την ιδιαίτερη πολυπλοκότητα του ζητήματος παραγραφής στην υπόθεση Zontul, κάλεσαν τις αρχές να υποβάλουν στην Επιτροπή έως την 1η Σεπτεμβρίου 2019 τα πλήρη πορίσματα του Λιμενικού Σώματος σχετικά με την επανάληψη της πειθαρχικής διαδικασίας, ιδίως όσον αφορά την παραμονή στην υπηρεσία των υπευθύνων·

7. χαιρέτισαν την πρόθεση των αρχών να ζητήσουν από τους επικεφαλής των υπηρεσιών που εμπλέκονται σε βασανιστήρια και άλλες μορφές κακομεταχείρισης να ζητήσουν γραπτή συγγνώμη από τους προσφεύγοντες· κάλεσαν τις αρχές να ενημερώσουν την Επιτροπή μέχρι την 1η Σεπτεμβρίου 2019 για οποιαδήποτε περαιτέρω εξέλιξη·

Όσον αφορά τα γενικά μέτρα

8. κάλεσαν τις αρχές να εντείνουν τις συνεχιζόμενες προσπάθειές τους για την εξάλειψη όλων των μορφών κακομεταχείρισης από τα όργανα επιβολής του νόμου, λαμβάνοντας δεόντως υπόψη τις συστάσεις της CPT και τις κάλεσαν να παράσχουν στην Επιτροπή συγκεκριμένες και λεπτομερείς πληροφορίες σχετικά με τα ληφθέντα ή προβλεπόμενα μέτρα σε απάντηση στις αποφάσεις του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου στις υποθέσεις αυτές·

9. όσον αφορά την αποτελεσματικότητα των ερευνών, κάλεσαν τις αρχές να υποβάλουν έως την 1η Σεπτεμβρίου 2019 λεπτομερείς πληροφορίες σχετικά με τα ακόλουθα θέματα:

α) την αναστολή της παραγραφής για αξιόποινες πράξεις που σχετίζονται με παραβάσεις παρόμοιες με εκείνες στις υπό κρίση υποθέσεις·

β) τη γενική δυνατότητα επανέναρξης πειθαρχικών ερευνών σε περιπτώσεις όπου έχει ήδη αποφασισθεί ποινική ή πειθαρχική ευθύνη, λαμβανομένης υπόψη της αρχής ne bis in idem που κατοχυρώνεται στον νόμο 4443/2016·

γ) την αποτελεσματικότητα του νέου μηχανισμού καταγγελίας (Συνηγόρου του Πολίτη), ιδίως υπό το πρίσμα των αποτελεσμάτων των ερευνών επί των καταγγελιών που υποβλήθηκαν μετά την έναρξη λειτουργίας του μηχανισμού στις 9 Ιουνίου 2017·

δ) τον αντίκτυπο της νέας ενισχυμένης νομοθετικής προστασίας κατά του ρατσιστικού εγκλήματος και τα ενδεχόμενα νέα μέτρα που προβλέπονται για τη διασφάλιση της διερεύνησης πιθανών ρατσιστικών κινήτρων όταν παρουσιάζεται κακομεταχείριση στο πλαίσιο της επιβολής του νόμου·

ε) το κατά πόσον οι αποφάσεις για την περάτωση ποινικών ανακρίσεων λόγω παραγραφής μπορούν να υποβληθούν σε δικαστική ή άλλη ανεξάρτητη επανεξέταση·

στ) τα μέτρα που ελήφθησαν ή σχεδιάστηκαν στο πλαίσιο της τρέχουσας αναθεώρησης του Ποινικού Κώδικα, προκειμένου να ευθυγραμμιστεί πλήρως η διεξαγωγή των ποινικών ανακρίσεων σε περιπτώσεις κακομεταχείρισης και οι σχετικές κυρώσεις με τις απαιτήσεις της νομολογίας του Δικαστηρίου, ιδίως όσον αφορά τον ορισμό των βασανιστηρίων και τις δυνατότητες μετατροπής ποινών φυλάκισης που επιβάλλονται για βασανιστήρια και άλλες μορφές κακομεταχείρισης σε ποινές μη στερητικές της ελευθερίας.

[Μετάφραση στα ελληνικά από το Ελληνικό Παρατηρητήριο των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ) από το αγγλικό πρωτότυπο διαθέσιμο εδώ

Συμβούλιο της Ευρώπης – Απόφαση Επιτροπής Υπουργών: Επίβλεψη εκτέλεσης αποφάσεων ΕΔΔΑ Bekir-Ousta κτλ. κατά Ελλάδας (τουρκικές ενώσεις)

ΕΠΙΤΡΟΠΗ ΥΠΟΥΡΓΩΝ ΤΟΥ ΣΥΜΒΟΥΛΙΟΥ ΤΗΣ ΕΥΡΩΠΗΣ

ΑΝΑΠΛΗΡΩΤΕΣ ΥΠΟΥΡΓΩΝ

Αποφάσεις

CM/Del/Δεκ(2018)1331/Η46-12

6 Δεκεμβρίου 2018

1331η συνεδρίαση, 4-6 Δεκεμβρίου 2018 (ΑΔ)

H46-12 Ομάδα αποφάσεων Bekir-Ousta κ.λπ. κατά Ελλάδας
(Προσφυγές υπ’ αριθ. 35151/05 κτλ)

Επίβλεψη της εκτέλεσης των αποφάσεων του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου

 

Αποφάσεις

Οι Αναπληρωτές

1. υπενθυμίζοντας ότι οι υποθέσεις αυτές αφορούν παραβιάσεις του δικαιώματος της ελευθερίας του συνεταιρίζεσθαι λόγω της άρνησης των εθνικών δικαστηρίων να εγκρίνουν ενώσεις και της απόφασης που οδηγεί στη διάλυση ενός σωματείου·

Όσον αφορά τα ατομικά μέτρα

2. εκφράζουν τη λύπη του για το γεγονός ότι, παρά τις προσπάθειες που κατέβαλαν οι αρχές, και ιδίως την τροποποίηση του Κώδικα Πολιτικής Δικονομίας το 2017, δέκα χρόνια μετά την έκδοση των αποφάσεων του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου, δύο από τις ενώσεις αυτές παραμένουν χωρίς έγκριση και μία διαλυμένη.

3. υπενθυμίζοντας ότι η υποχρέωση ενός συμβαλλομένου κράτους βάσει του άρθρου 46 της Σύμβασης να συμμορφώνεται πλήρως και αποτελεσματικά με τις αποφάσεις του Δικαστηρίου εκτείνεται στην ερμηνεία της εσωτερικής νομοθεσίας από τα εθνικά δικαστήρια, σημείωσαν την πρόσφατη απόφαση του Εφετείου Θράκης που απορρίπτει για διαδικαστικούς λόγους την αίτηση επανεξέτασης της απόφασης διάλυσης μιας από τις αιτούσες ενώσεις· σημείωσαν ωστόσο ότι έχει ασκηθεί προσφυγή κατά της απόφασης αυτής και ότι εκκρεμεί ενώπιον του Αρείου Πάγου·

4. κάλεσαν τις αρχές να λάβουν γρήγορα όλα τα αναγκαία μέτρα ώστε οι υποθέσεις των αιτουσών να εξετάζονται από τα εθνικά δικαστήρια σε πλήρη και ουσιαστική συμμόρφωση με το άρθρο 11 της Σύμβασης και τις αποφάσεις του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου και να ενημερώνεται η Επιτροπή για όλες τις σχετικές εξελίξεις .

5. κάλεσαν τις αρχές να παρέχουν τακτικά πληροφορίες σχετικά με τις περαιτέρω εξελίξεις σε όλες τις εν εξελίξει διαδικασίες σχετικά με αυτήν την ομάδα υποθέσεων ·

Όσον αφορά τα γενικά μέτρα

6. σημείωσαν με βαθιά λύπη ότι η εγγραφή άλλης ένωσης στην περιοχή της Θράκης απορρίφθηκε το 2017 με τελική απόφαση του Αρείου Πάγου για λόγους που ήδη επικρίθηκαν από το Ευρωπαϊκό Δικαστήριο στις αποφάσεις του του 2008 σχετικά με τις παρούσες υποθέσεις ·

7. παροτρύνουν επομένως τις αρχές να λάβουν πρόσθετα μέτρα, όπως η ευρεία διάδοση της νομολογίας του Δικαστηρίου και η συστηματική κατάρτιση των εθνικών δικαστών σε όλα τα επίπεδα, προκειμένου να διασφαλιστεί ότι τα εθνικά δικαστήρια λαμβάνουν αποφάσεις σχετικά με την εγγραφή ή τη διάλυση ενώσεων εναρμονισμένα πλήρως και αποτελεσματικά με τη νομολογία του Δικαστηρίου και να ενημερώνουν την Επιτροπή για περαιτέρω εξελίξεις ·

8. αποφάσισαν να επαναλάβουν την εξέταση αυτής της ομάδας υποθέσεων κατά την πρώτη συνεδρίαση μετά την έκδοση της απόφασης του Αρείου Πάγου σε απάντηση της προαναφερθείσας προσφυγής που υπέβαλε μία από τις αιτούσες ενώσεις ή κατά την 1354η συνεδρίασή της (Σεπτέμβριος 2019) (DH) το αργότερο.

[Μετάφραση στα ελληνικά από το Ελληνικό Παρατηρητήριο των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ) από το αγγλικό πρωτότυπο διαθέσιμο εδώ

Council of Europe – Commitee of Ministers’ Decision: Makaratzis group v. Greece

COECM

1331st meeting, 4-6 December 2018 (DH)

 

H46-13 Makaratzis group v. Greece (Application No. 50385/99)

Supervision of the execution of the European Court’s judgments

Reference document

CM/Notes/1331/H46-13

 

Decisions

The Deputies

  1. recalling that these cases concern the use of potentially lethal force and ill-treatment by law enforcement agents as well as the lack of effective investigations capable of leading to adequate disciplinary and criminal sanctions;

As regards individual measures

  1. recalled with regret that as a result of the prescription rules in force the reopening of excessively lenient convictions or of ineffective criminal investigations (notably the recent Andersen case) is not possible;
  2. expressed also regret that in the Zontul case, due to the state of Greek law at the time, a reopening of the criminal conviction of the responsible coast guard for infringement of sexual dignity would not allow to take into account the European Court’s finding that the facts constituted torture within the meaning of Article 3 of the Convention, as the notion of torture in Greek law did not extend to the facts of the case; noted, however, with satisfaction the Ombudsman’s decision to reopen the disciplinary investigations into the consequences of the acts at issue;
  3. expressed regret that in all the cases – apart from Sidiropoulos and Papakostas and Andersen – the reopening of the disciplinary investigations was not possible due to the fact that the offences were subject to prescription;
  4. invited the authorities to inform the Committee by 1 September 2019 about the reopened disciplinary investigations concerning the Sidiropoulos and Papakostas and Andersen cases;
  5. noting also the particular complexity of the prescription question in the Zontul case, invited the authorities to provide the Committee by 1 September 2019  with the full conclusions of the Hellenic Coast Guard concerning the reopening of the disciplinary proceedings, notably as regards the continued employment of those responsible;
  6. welcomed the authorities’ intention to request the heads of the services involved in torture and other forms of ill-treatment to issue written apologies to the applicants; invited the authorities to inform the Committee by 1 September 2019 of any further development;

As regards general measures

  1. called upon the authorities to intensify their ongoing efforts to eradicate all forms of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials, taking due account of the CPT’s recommendations, and invited them to provide the Committee with concrete and detailed information on the measures taken or envisaged in response to the European Court’s judgments in these cases;
  1. invited, as regards the effectiveness of investigations, the authorities to provide by 1 September 2019 detailed information on the following issues:
  2. a) the suspension of the limitation period for offences related to violations similar to those in the present cases;
  3. b) the overall possibility to reopen disciplinary investigations in cases where criminal or disciplinary liability has already been decided, taking into account the ne bis in idem principle enshrined in Law 4443/2016;
  4. c) the effectiveness of the new complaint Mechanism (the Ombudsman), notably in the light of the outcome of the investigations into the complaints submitted since the Mechanism started to function on 9 June 2017;
  5. d) the impact of the new reinforced legislative protection against racist crime and possible new measures envisaged to ensure the investigation of possible racist motives when ill-treatment occurs in the context of law enforcement;
  6. e) the extent to which decisions to close criminal investigations on the basis of prescription can be subjected to judicial or other independent review;
  7. f) the measures taken or envisaged in the context of the ongoing revision of the Criminal Code in order to fully align the conduct of criminal investigations into ill-treatment and the relevant sanctions with the requirements of the Court’s case-law, in particular as regards the definition of torture and the possibilities to convert terms of imprisonment imposed for torture and other ill-treatment into non-custodial sentences.

1331st meeting, 4-6 December 2018 (DH)

Human rights

 

H46-13 Makaratzis group v. Greece (Application No. 50385/99)

Supervision of the execution of the European Court’s judgments

Reference document

CM/Del/Dec(2017)1302/H46-11

 

Application Case Judgment of Final on Indicator for the classification
50385/99 MAKARATZIS 20/12/2004 Grand Chamber Complex problem
15250/02 BEKOS AND KOUTROPOULOS 13/12/2005 13/03/2006
25771/03 ALSAYED ALLAHAM 18/01/2007 23/05/2007
17060/03 ZELILOF 24/05/2007 24/08/2007
27850/03 KARAGIANNOPOULOS 21/06/2007 21/09/2007
21449/04 CELNIKU 05/07/2007 05/10/2007
44803/04 PETROPOULOU-TSAKIRIS 06/12/2007 06/03/2008
43326/05 LEONIDIS 08/01/2009 05/06/2009
2945/07 GALOTSKIN 14/01/2010 14/04/2010
2954/07 STEFANOU 22/04/2010 04/10/2010
12294/07 ZONTUL 17/01/2012 17/04/2012
33349/10 SIDIROPOULOS AND PAPAKOSTAS 25/01/2018 25/04/2018
42660/11 ANDERSEN 26/04/2018 26/07/2018

Case description

These cases concern the use of potentially lethal force by the police in the absence of an adequate legislative and administrative framework governing the use of firearms (violation of positive obligation pursuant to Article 2 to protect life in the cases Makaratzis, Celniku, Karagiannopoulos and Leonidis); ill-treatment by police (violation of Article 3 in the cases of Bekos and Koutropoulos, Alsayed Allaham, Petropoulou-Tsakyri, Zelilof, Galotskin and Stefanou); ill-treatment by coastguards amounting to torture (violation of Article 3 in the case of Zontul); absence of effective administrative and criminal investigations and inadequate criminal proceedings and penalties (procedural violations of Article 2 in the cases of Makaratzis, Celniku, Karagiannopoulos and of Article 3 in the cases of Bekos-Koutropoulos, Petropoulou-Tsakiris, Zelilof, Galotskin, Zontul, Sidiropoulos and Papakostas and Andersen); failure to investigate whether racist motives on the part of the police may have played a role in some cases (violation of Article 14 combined with Article 3 in the cases of Bekos-Koutropoulos and Petropoulou-Tsakiris).

The Galotskin, Stefanou and Sidiropoulos and Papakostas cases also concern the excessive length of criminal proceedings (violation of Article 6 § 1); in the latter a violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 6 § 1 was also found[1].

Status of execution

Individual measures

As regards all cases apart from Sidiropoulos and Papakostas and Andersen

At the 1157th meeting (December 2012) (DH), the authorities indicated that it was not possible under domestic law to reopen criminal proceedings on the sole basis of the deficiencies identified by the Court in the cases of the group where the perpetrators had been convicted or acquitted. As regards the cases where criminal charges had not been brought, these would be re-examined. Following re-examination of those cases it was found that the offences had become time-barred. As for disciplinary proceedings, the authorities indicated at that time that their reopening following a judgment by the European Court could be requested by the executive committee of “the Office for addressing arbitrary incidents” (“the Office”), established by Law No. 3938/2011, in respect of judgments of the Court delivered after 31 March 2011 (that date on which this law entered into force). Also, the statutory limitation period for disciplinary offences would not run between the termination of the disciplinary proceedings and the delivery of the Court’s judgment to the Office. In a communication received on 8 July 2015, the Greek authorities informed the Committee that the reopening of the administrative investigation in Zontul in the light of the Court’s findings would be considered as soon as the committee established by Law 3938/2011 became operational.

On 27 September 2017, the Greek authorities informed the Committee that Law 4443/2016 (in force as from 6 December 2016) had replaced the Office with the national mechanism for the investigation of incidents of abuse by law enforcement agents and by employees of state penitentiary establishments (Mechanism for the Investigation of Arbitrary Behaviour – “the Mechanism”), which was integrated into the Ombudsman’s Office. Furthermore, the authorities informed the Committee that the Zontul judgment was transmitted to the Mechanism on 27 July 2017, and that on 11 August 2017 the Mechanism requested the reopening of the administrative investigation in this case in the light of the European Court’s findings.

At its 1302nd meeting (December 2017) (DH), the Committee invited the Greek authorities to provide information on further developments and on the outcome of the reopened procedure. It also requested information regarding the examination by the Mechanism of the possibility of reopening administrative proceedings in the other cases of the group concerning ill-treatment by law enforcement agents.

In their communication of 8 October 2018, the Greek authorities informed the Committee that as regards Zontul, the Mechanism initially decided that there was no question of violation of the ne bis in idem principle since the offences to be investigated in the reopened proceedings were different from those investigated initially, and requested the reopening of the disciplinary proceedings on the basis of the European Court’s findings. The authorities added that the disciplinary proceedings were reopened by the Hellenic Coast Guard and concluded by a report issued on 13 April 2018. Subsequently, the Mechanism issued its conclusions concurring with the Hellenic Coast Guard that, although the disciplinary offences investigated were different from those investigated initially, they had become time-barred because they had not been classified by domestic courts as criminal offences subject to longer statutory limitations.

According to the Mechanism, under Article 56 § 6 of Law 4443/2016 the suspension of the offences’ prescription between the termination of disciplinary proceedings and the delivery of the Court’s judgment to the Mechanism is possible only for those cases in which the prescription period had not expired by the date on which the Mechanism became operational (9 June 2017). As regards the other cases of the group, the Mechanism held that reopening of disciplinary proceedings was not possible because the offences had become prescribed long before the Mechanism became operational.

For all of these cases, the Mechanism proposed as the only possible individual measures a written apology from the heads of the services concerned to each of the victims of the impugned acts. In this way, moral satisfaction could be provided to these persons; at the same time there would be a commitment on the part of the relevant services that future disciplinary proceedings will be carried out in conformity with the Court’s case law. The Government Agent indicated that he agrees with this proposal and that he would pursue it before the services concerned.

As regards the cases of Sidiropoulos and Papakostas and Andersen

The above judgments became final on 24 April 2018 (Sidiropoulos and Papakostas) and on 26 July 2018 (Andersen). On 30 July 2018 the judgments were transmitted by the Government Agent to the Mechanism to examine the possibility of reopening administrative investigations, and on 20 August 2018 to the competent judicial authorities to examine the possibility of reopening criminal investigations. As regards Andersen, the First Instance Court Prosecutor of Thessaloniki examined the file and decided in September 2018 that the reopening of the case was not possible due to the fact that the offences were subject to prescription.

General measures

As regards administrative investigations of complaints against law enforcement agents

At its 1157th meeting (December 2012) (DH), the Committee of Ministers welcomed the repeal of Law No. 29/1943 on the use of firearms, which had been criticised by the European Court, noted that the new national legislation introduced a modern and comprehensive legislative framework for the use of firearms by the police and decided to close the supervision of the general measures taken by Greece to prevent similar violations of Article 2.

Furthermore, the Committee of Ministers welcomed the establishment by Law No. 3938/2011 of the three-member executive committee to head the aforementioned Office.

According to information provided by the authorities in September 2017, the Office did not become operational. Instead, as mentioned above, the Mechanism was established by Law No. 4443/2016, as part of the Ombudsman’s Office. The Mechanism is mandated to collect, record, assess and transmit to the competent bodies complaints about the actions of law enforcement agents and employees of detention establishments regarding: a) torture and other violations to human dignity within the meaning of Article 137A of the Criminal Code; b) illegal, intentional attacks against life, health, physical integrity, personal or sexual freedom; c) illegal use of firearms; or d) illegal behaviour for which there is evidence of racist motivation or discriminatory treatment on the grounds of colour, race, national or ethnic origin, descent, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. More specifically, the Ombudsman, acting as the Mechanism, evaluates all submitted complaints which fall within his specific competence and decides either to investigate them himself or to refer them to the competent disciplinary body.

If the Ombudsman decides to investigate the complaint himself, the competent disciplinary body is not prevented from continuing its investigation but is obliged to suspend its decision on the case pending receipt of the Ombudsman’s findings. If the Ombudsman decides to refer the case to the competent disciplinary body, the latter is obliged to investigate it as a priority, and inform the Ombudsman of the outcome. The Ombudsman evaluates the findings of the disciplinary proceedings and may send the case back to the disciplinary body for further investigation if specific shortcomings are identified. The Ombudsman’s findings are not legally binding, but the disciplinary body concerned is obliged to provide detailed reasoning in case of any divergence from them.

The Ombudsman is also empowered to request the reopening of an administrative investigation in cases where the European Court has found the initial investigation ineffective. When the Ombudsman decides to reopen the case, based on the findings of the European Court, he communicates this decision to the disciplinary body concerned.

During the investigation, the Ombudsman may request public services to provide any information, documents or other evidence related to the case under investigation, unless they have been classified as secret on grounds of national defence, state security or the country’s international relations. Furthermore, the Ombudsman may take statements from witnesses, conduct on-site investigations and order expert reports.

According to the authorities’ communication of 8 October 2018, the Ombudsman indicated in his annual report submitted to Parliament on 26 March 2018 that, since 6 June 2017, 117 complaints had been submitted to the Mechanism. 11 complaints were submitted by individuals and 112 by state services responsible for investigating disciplinary offences. The Mechanism found that four complaints were not within the scope of the Ombudsman’s competence, whilst the remaining complaints were followed up. In seven cases the investigations were concluded by the respective services and their reports were under examination by the Ombudsman. In two cases the Ombudsman held that the investigations were insufficient and referred them back to the competent services. In four cases investigations were being carried out by the Ombudsman himself.

As regards the offences investigated, 15 concerned torture, 15 the use of firearms, 14 concerned affronts to sexual dignity, 53 concerned attacks against life or physical integrity and, lastly, 11 concerned racially motivated offences. According to information provided by the police, between June 2017 and March 2018 223 complaints were transmitted to the Ombudsman. 31 of these were found not to be within the scope of the Ombudsman’s competence. Administrative inquiries were ordered in 136 cases. Of these, 71 were completed and the relevant conclusions transmitted to the Ombudsman. In 17 cases the police were ordered to carry out further investigations; in nine of them, further investigations were carried out and they were referred back to the Ombudsman. In order to enhance co-operation between the police and the Ombudsman, a circular was issued by the head of the Greek police in June 2017.

As regards other general measures aiming at combatting ill-treatment by law enforcement officers and racially motivated crimes

At its 1302nd meeting (December 2017) (DH), the Committee noted that a law-making committee had been established, tasked with examining whether the definition of torture in Greek law is compatible with the definition in Article 1 of the UN Convention against Torture. It also noted that the authorities had undertaken to examine the matter of conversion of custodial sentences imposed for torture with a view to ensuring that perpetrators of torture or other ill-treatment are proportionately and effectively punished. Lastly, the Committee invited the authorities to provide information about further relevant developments.

On 8 October 2018 the authorities informed the Committee that the above committee had concluded its work and submitted a draft criminal code to the Ministry of Justice which would be soon sent to Parliament for adoption. The authorities noted that the review of the definition of torture in the Criminal Code is beyond the necessary measures for the execution of the present judgments, because the Court did not indicate that the violations found were linked to the criminal law provisions criminalising torture or affront to life and bodily harm. According to the authorities, it was rather the lenient application by domestic courts of these provisions that led to procedural violations of Article 3.

The Greek Helsinki Monitor in its communication submitted in September 2018 mentioned notably that since June 2017 it had submitted to the Ombudsman 18 complaints of ill-treatment (including of migrants and Roma[2]) by law enforcement agents, but had not received any information on the progress of these cases.

Lastly, it is noted that as of October 2018 five new cases concerning ill-treatment by law enforcement agents have been communicated to the Greek Government.

Analysis by the Secretariat

As regards individual measures

Criminal proceedings

It is recalled that in relation to 10 cases of the group, criminal charges were brought against the law enforcement agents involved, who were either acquitted or sentenced. In relation to three cases (Zelilof, Petropoulou-Tsakiris and Andersen), where criminal proceedings had not been brought, the files were re-examined and it was found that the offences had become time-barred.

Administrative proceedings

As regards the Zontul case, the reopening of the criminal investigations into torture (as the facts were characterised by the Court) instead of mere infringement of sexual dignity (as the events were characterised in the domestic proceedings) is claimed by the authorities to be objectively impossible since the perpetrator had already been convicted at the time of the Court’s judgment for the acts at issue. In the circumstances of the case, this objection – based on the principles of legal certainty and ne bis in idem – appears justified as no new facts or other evidence emerged in the procedure before the European Court. The violations were be solely related to the legal characterisation of these acts and to shortcomings in the investigation procedure.

In view of this situation, and of the importance of effectively preventing impunity in cases of torture, the possibility of disciplinary proceedings has been explored.

It is recalled that this has been considered, in the special circumstances of the present case, to be another avenue of redress to give a measure of effect to the Court’s findings. It is further recalled that the established case law provides that, when an agent of the State is accused of crimes that violate Article 3, criminal proceedings and sentencing must not be time-barred.[3] It is also recalled that where state agents have been charged with offences involving ill‑treatment, they should be suspended from duty while being investigated or tried, and should be dismissed if convicted.[4]

It is thus to be welcomed that the disciplinary investigations have continued. However, the conduct of these proceedings raises questions as to how the conclusions of the Court were taken into account both as regards the possibility of reopening the administrative investigations and the application of the relevant prescription rules when determining disciplinary liability.

As mentioned earlier the Mechanism (Ombudsman) requested the Hellenic Coast Guard to reopen the disciplinary proceedings, considering that there was no question of infringement of the ne bis in idem principle, since the new investigation would presumably focus on the offence of torture and not on the offences actually investigated in the context of the criminal proceedings. However, following the conclusion of the reopened investigation by the Hellenic Coast Guard, the Ombudsman concluded that the offences established were indeed time-barred because of the application of the general prescription period of five years that applies to the offence of infringement of sexual dignity. This change of position as to the scope of the disciplinary proceedings requires further explanation.

Even assuming that the disciplinary proceedings could only relate to the offence of infringement of sexual dignity, questions remain as to the application of prescription periods in the context of disciplinary action.

The Greek authorities have previously informed the Committee (see documents CM/Inf/DH(2012)40,
DH-DD(2015)757 and DH-DD(2018)971) that: a) for disciplinary offences the limitation period would not run during criminal proceedings; and b) according to Article 1 § 6 of Law No. 3938/2011, the limitation period for disciplinary offences giving rise to violations found by the Court would not run between the termination of disciplinary proceedings by the Hellenic Coast Guard (August 2001, § 16 Zontul) and the delivery of the Court’s judgment to the Office. However, the Office never became operational and was replaced only in 2017 by the Mechanism. The provision on the suspension of prescription remained unchanged. From the information provided, it appears that the Mechanism did not take into account the suspension of prescription in accordance with Article 1 § 6 of Law 3938/11. In view of the above, clarifications are necessary on how the statutory prescription periods for disciplinary offences were calculated and implemented by the Ombudsman.

It would be also useful to the Committee for the authorities to provide the full text of the conclusions issued by the Hellenic Coast Guard in Zontul. In this way, the Committee could acquire a detailed and comprehensive overview of these proceedings concerning torture.

As regards the Mechanism’s proposal that the heads of the services involved issue written apologies to the victims, it should be welcomed. The Committee might wish to encourage the authorities to consider it as a measure of moral compensation, and invite the authorities to provide more information on the effect given to this proposal.

General measures

As regards the problem of ill-treatment of persons in detention, it is noted that this issue has been the subject of several CPT reports. Its latest report on Greece (CPT/Inf (2017)25 §§ 62-66) states, inter alia, that as regards the treatment of criminal suspects detained by law enforcement officials, and despite overwhelming indications to the contrary, the authorities have to date consistently refused to consider that ill-treatment is a serious problem there, and have not taken the required action to implement the CPT’s recommendations and to combat this phenomenon effectively.

The CPT has notably underlined that in order to back up any message of zero tolerance and to reinforce training, effective investigations into allegations of ill-treatment must be undertaken to demonstrate that criminal acts by the police will be punished, and to counter the current culture of impunity that pervades parts of the police force.

In view of the above, and of the fact that as of October 2018 five new applications against Greece lodged between 2013 and 2016 involving, inter alia, alleged violations of Article 3 due to ill-treatment in law enforcement have been communicated to the government, the Committee might visit to invite the authorities to provide information on measures taken or envisaged to give effect to the conclusions of the Court in the present group of cases, taking into account the CPT’s recommendations.

Administrative investigations of complaints against law enforcement agents concerning violations of Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention 

It is recalled that the supervision of the execution of the judgments of this group focuses on the implementation of measures taken to prevent ill-treatment by law enforcement officers and to guarantee proper and effective investigations into acts giving rise to a risk to life or of ill-treatment by law enforcement officers.

It appears that a key element in the execution of the Court’s judgments is the effective operation of the Ombudsman as the Mechanism. 15 of the complaints referred to by the authorities, submitted to the Ombudsman after the judgments in the present group, led to administrative investigations for torture, whilst 53 complaints concerned attacks against life or bodily harm. However, no information was provided about the scope and effectiveness of the investigations undertaken or about their outcome as regards disciplinary or criminal responsibility of the alleged perpetrators. The authorities should provide the Committee with more information in these and other relevant respects, to permit an evaluation of the effectiveness and independence of the investigations carried under the supervision of the Mechanism.

As regards reopening of administrative investigations

The special problems raised in the Zontul case require additional attention. Given that, according to the above law, reopening of disciplinary proceedings, to the extent they impose sanctions, should not infringe the ne bis in idem principle, and given the problems identified above in this respect, as well as regards the application of prescription periods, it would be useful for the Committee to receive information about the implementation of the legislation by the Ombudsman in the cases at issue in this group and possibly others so that conclusions can be drawn about how Law 4443/2016 might be applied in possible future cases. More specifically, information would be useful about: a) the suspension of statutory limitation periods for the offences that gave rise to the violations found by the Court; and b) in view of the ne bis in idem principle, the overall possibility to reopen disciplinary investigations in cases where criminal or disciplinary liability has already been decided upon.

Some of the present cases also concern the authorities’ failure to investigate whether racist motives on the part of the police may have played a role in the applicants’ ill-treatment. Given that the authorities have not provided updated information on the impact of measures taken or measures envisaged to prevent similar violations, the Committee might wish to call on the authorities to do so.

Adequacy of criminal proceedings and sanctioning by domestic courts

It is recalled that in a number of the present judgments the Court’s findings of procedural violations of Article 3 stemmed from inadequacies in criminal proceedings, concerning notably: inadequate access for the applicant as a civil party to the criminal proceedings (Zontul § 111); inadequate witness-related proceedings indicating a lack of effort by the competent authorities to discover what really happened (Alsayed Allaham § 28-29, Galotskin § 49, Zelilof § 62); and the handling (and closing) of the relevant complaints by the prosecutor (Andersen §65).[5] In addition, procedural violations of Article 3 in some of these cases stemmed, inter alia, from the leniency and disproportionate sentences imposed by domestic courts on law enforcement agents, even in cases where (aggravated) torture occurred (Zontul §§ 106-108, Sidiropoulos and Papakostas §§ 90-96). In view of this, the Committee might wish to call on the authorities to provide information on measures taken or envisaged in order to redress these shortcomings and to fully align criminal law and practice with the Court’s case law.

Definition of torture in the Criminal Code

This issue was raised by the Court in Zontul (§§ 87-93), in which it noted that the court of appeal had not characterised the applicant’s rape by truncheon as torture because Article 137A § 2 of the Criminal Code provides that, in order for an act to be characterised as torture, the infliction of severe pain must be “planned”. The Court found that under its established case law a detainee’s rape by a state agent constitutes torture under the Convention.

The information provided concerning the review of the definition of torture in the Criminal Code in order to align it with Article 1 of the UN Convention against Torture is positive, as the requirements of this Article are the same as those under the Convention. However, no detailed information was provided about the outcome of this review, notably about when the authorities intend to propose the amendments to the Criminal Code needed to bring it into line with the requirements of the Convention. The Committee might wish to invite the authorities to provide more information on the progress of the present legislative work.

Financing assured: YES

[1] The issues of excessively lengthy criminal proceedings and effective remedies were examined in the Michelioudakis / Diamantides No.2 group of cases,  closed by Final Resolution CM/ResDH(2015)231.

[2] The term “Roma and Travellers” is used at the Council of Europe to encompass the wide diversity of the groups covered by the work of the Council of Europe in this field: on the one hand a) Roma, Sinti/Manush, Calé, Kaale, Romanichals, Boyash/Rudari; b) Balkan Egyptians (Egyptians and Ashkali); c) Eastern groups (Dom, Lom and Abdal); and, on the other hand, groups such as Travellers, Yenish, and the populations designated under the administrative term “Gens du voyage”, as well as persons who identify themselves as Gypsies. The present is an explanatory footnote, not a definition of Roma and/or Travellers.

[3] See, inter alia, Yeter v. Turkey, judgment of 13 January 2017 §70, Mocanu v. Romania, GC judgment. of 17 September 2014, §326.

[4] See, inter alia, Gäfgen v. Germany, GC judgment of 1 June 2010 §125.

[5] See also CPT report on Greece of 1 March 2016 (CPT/Inf (2016) 4 §24) stating that “ the current system is characterised by systemic failings by the police and judicial authorities to conduct prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations, aimed at bringing the perpetrators of ill-treatment to justice”.

Council of Europe – Commitee of Ministers’ Decision: Supervision of the execution of Bekir-Ousta and Others group v. Greece

COECM

1331st meeting, 4-6 December 2018 (DH)

 

H46-12 Bekir-Ousta and Others group v. Greece (Application No. 35151/05)

Supervision of the execution of the European Court’s judgments

Reference document

CM/Notes/1331/H46-12

 

Decisions

The Deputies

  1. recalling that these cases concern violations of the right to freedom of association due to the domestic courts’ refusal to register associations and decision leading to the dissolution of an association;

As regards individual measures

  1. deplored that, despite the efforts made by the authorities, notably the 2017 amendment of the Code of Civil Procedure, ten years after the European Court’s judgments two of the present associations remain unregistered and one dissolved;
  2. recalling that a Contracting State’s obligation under Article 46 of the Convention to fully and effectively comply with the Court’s judgments extends to the interpretation by domestic courts of domestic legislation, noted with concern the recent judgment of the Thrace Court of Appeal rejecting on procedural grounds the request for re-examination of the order dissolving one of the applicant associations; noted, however, that an appeal against this judgment has been lodged and is currently pending before the Court of Cassation;
  3. invited the authorities to rapidly take all necessary measures so that the applicants’ cases are examined by the domestic courts in full and effective compliance with Article 11 of the Convention and the European Court’s judgments, and to keep the Committee informed of all relevant developments;
  4. called upon the authorities to provide regular information about further developments in all the ongoing proceedings relating to this group of cases;

As regards general measures

  1. noted with deep regret that the registration of another association in the Thrace region was rejected in 2017 by a final judgment of the Court of Cassation on grounds already criticised by the European Court in its 2008 judgments concerning the present cases;
  2. exhorted, therefore, the authorities to take additional measures, such as wide dissemination of the Court’s case-law and systematic training of domestic judges at all levels, to ensure that the domestic courts make decisions concerning the registration or dissolution of associations which are fully and effectively aligned with the Court’s case-law, and to keep the Committee informed of further developments;
  3. decided to resume the examination of this group of cases at the first meeting following the delivery of the Court of Cassation’s judgment in response to the above-mentioned appeal lodged by one of the applicant associations, or at their 1354th meeting (September 2019) (DH) at the latest.

 

1331st meeting, 4-6 December 2018 (DH)

Human rights

 

H46-12 Bekir-Ousta and Others group v. Greece (Application No. 35151/05)

Supervision of the execution of the European Court’s judgments

Reference documents

CM/ResDH(2014)84, DH-DD(2018)996, CM/Del/Dec(2017)1302/H46-10

 

Application Case Judgment of Final on Indicator for the classification
35151/05 BEKIR-OUSTA AND OTHERS 11/10/2007 11/01/2008 Complex problem
34144/05 EMIN AND OTHERS 27/03/2008 01/12/2008
26698/05 TOURKIKI ENOSI XANTHIS AND OTHERS 27/03/2008 29/09/2008

Case description

These cases concern violations of the right to freedom of association (Article 11) due to the domestic courts’ refusal to register associations (Bekir-Ousta and Others and Emin and Others; final domestic decisions in 2006 and 2005 respectively) and decision leading to the dissolution of an association (Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis and others; final domestic decision in 2005) on the ground that their aim was to promote the idea that an ethnic minority existed in Greece as opposed to the religious minority recognised by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.

Concerning BekirOusta and Others and Emin and Others, the European Court noted that “the contested measure relied on a mere suspicion about the true intentions of the founders of the association and the actions that it might have led to once it had started functioning”. Moreover, the Court considered that “even assuming that the true aim of the association was to promote the idea that an ethnic minority existed in Greece, this cannot be in itself considered as a threat to a democratic society”. The Court noted in this respect that “nothing in the association’s statute suggested that its members were advocating the use of violence or of anti-democratic or anti-constitutional means”. The Court recalled that Greek legislation (Article 12 of the Constitution and Article 81 of the Civil Code) did not set up a system of preventive control for the establishment of non-profit associations. The Court also noted that the domestic courts could order the dissolution of any of the associations if it subsequently pursued an aim different to that stated in its statute, or if its functioning proved to be contrary to public order. Consequently the Court concluded that the impugned measure was disproportionate to the aim pursued.

In Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis and Others, the European Court underlined the radical nature of the measure at issue, namely the dissolution of the association, and noted in particular that, prior to its dissolution, the relevant association had continued its activities for about half a century without hindrance and without any indication that its members had ever used violence or rejected democratic principles.

Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis and Othersalso concerns a violation of Article 6 § 1 due to the excessive length of the civil proceedings related to the dissolution of the association.

 

Status of execution

Individual measures: Re-examination of the applicants’ requests for revocation of the judicial decisions refusing registration and ordering dissolution of associations

Following the European Court’s judgments, at the recommendation of the authorities (DH-DD(2012)1022), the applicants attempted to have their applications for registration of the associations re-examined using the means available under  Greek law. More specifically:

Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis and Others (concerning the “Turkish Union of Xanthi”): On 14 November 2008 the applicants applied to the Court of Appeal of Thrace requesting, under Article 758 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the revocation of judgment No. 31/2002 by which the same court had held that the dissolution of the applicant association was in accordance with Greek law. The application was rejected by  judgment No 353/2012 of the Court of Cassation (24 February 2012), which held that the 2008 judgment of the European Court finding violations of the Convention did not constitute “new factual evidence” or a ”change of circumstances”, which were prerequisites to revocation under Article 758 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

Emin and Others (concerning the “Cultural Association of Turkish Women of Rodopi”): on 3 August 2009 the applicants lodged an application with the First Instance Court of Rodopi requesting, on the basis of the Court’s judgment, the revocation of the Rodopi court’s judgment refusing the association’s registration. The application was rejected by final judgment No 1003/2013 of the Court of Cassation (24 March 2013) on the ground that, according to Article 758 of the Code of Civil Procedure, revocation of a domestic court judgment was possible only when the initial request for registration had been granted.

Lastly, Bekir Ousta and Others (concerning the “Association of Minority Youth of the Evros Prefecture”): on 5 January 2009 the applicants lodged with the First Instance Court of Orestiada a new application for registration of their association. The application was rejected by final judgment No. 1471/2013 of the Court of Cassation (5 July 2013) as inadmissible on the grounds that it was contrary to the principle of res iudicata.

At their 1186th meeting (December 2013) (DH), the Deputies, after noting that the applications for revocation and new registration lodged by the applicants had definitively been rejected, urged the authorities to provide, in due time for examination at their meeting of June 2014, concrete information on the measures that they were exploring to implement the individual measures in these cases.

At its 1201st meeting (June 2014) (DH), the Committee adopted Interim Resolution CM/ResDH(2014)84, by which the authorities were called upon to provide to the Committee, without delay, tangible information on the measures taken or envisaged, accompanied by an indicative calendar for their adoption, to achieve the implementation of the judgments in this group of cases.

On 18 October 2014, the European Court communicated to the government three new applications lodged by the applicants alleging that the judgments of the domestic courts on their applications for revocation and new registration constituted new facts which violated Articles 46 and 11 of the Convention.

By its decision of 17 November 2015, the European Court rejected the applications lodged by the applicants in Xanthi Turkish Union and Others (Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis and Others) and Ayse Galip and Others (applications Nos. 55557/12 and 73646/13) as inadmissible on the ground that their cases were pending before the Committee of Ministers and that the applications for revocation of the domestic courts’ judgments did not constitute new facts. A new application lodged with the Court by the applicants in Bekir Ousta and Others (No. 7050/14) was also rejected by a decision of 13 December 2016 as inadmissible on the ground that the case was pending before the Committee of Ministers and that the rejection of the new application for registration by the domestic courts as contrary to the principle of res iudicata did not constitute new facts.

On 11 September 2017 the authorities informed the Committee that a draft law had been sent to Parliament, which aimed at enabling the applicants to have their applications for registration of their associations, or for the reversal of the judgments ordering their associations’ dissolution, re-examined in the light of the European Court’s judgments. The draft law, which modified paragraph 1 of Article 758 of the Code of Civil Procedure, was adopted on 10 October 2017.

 

The amendment allows the reopening of proceedings in cases in which the European Court has found a violation of the right to a fair trial or a substantive right under the Convention originating in a domestic court judgment issued in a non-contentious procedure. The admissibility of a request for reopening of proceedings shall be assessed on the basis of the restrictions permitted under the Convention in the exercise of substantive rights (such as the protection of national security, public order etc.).

A transitional provision was also adopted which was intended to allow the reopening of proceedings in cases, such as the present ones, where the European Court had found violations before the coming into force of the above legislative amendment. In such cases, the admissibility of a request for reopening of proceedings shall be assessed taking into account: 1) the restrictions set out in paragraph 2 of Article 11 of the Convention, as well as similar restrictions enshrined in the other substantive rights in the Convention; and 2) obligations under international treaties to which Greece is a party. The deadline to request the reopening of proceedings falling under the transitional provision is one year from the date of publication of the law (13 October 2018).

At its 1302nd meeting (December 2017) (DH), the Committee, bearing in mind that the applicants might request the reopening of proceedings following the adoption of the above law, invited the authorities to take the necessary measures to ensure that the European Court’s judgments in these cases, as well as the decision of the Committee, were disseminated to competent courts at all levels, in line with the Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation Rec(2002)13 (on the publication and dissemination in the member States of the text of the European Convention on Human Rights and of the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights). No information has been received in this respect.

The Committee also invited the authorities to keep it regularly informed either of the decisions taken by the domestic courts in the context of reopened proceedings in these cases or of the fact that no reopening request had been filed by the applicants within the time-limit set by the new legislation.

On 4 December 2017 the applicants in Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis and Others applied to the Court of Appeal of Thrace requesting, under amended Article 758 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the revocation of judgment No. 31/2002 by which that same court had held that the dissolution of the applicant association was in accordance with Greek law. On 8 March 2018 the Committee was informed by the NGO Greek Helsinki Monitor that the lawyer who represented the Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace in the above proceedings pleaded for the rejection of the application on the basis of arguments criticised by the Court in the judgments under examination.

On 22 June 2018, by judgment No. 96/2018, the Thrace Court of Appeal rejected the application on the following grounds: the application infringed the ne bis in idem principle, because the applicants had already requested in 2008, under Article 758 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as it then stood, the revocation of the judgment validating the dissolution of their association; furthermore the transitional provision of the law amending Article 758 of Civil Procedure did not cover the case – a specific provision should have been included to cover those who had already requested reopening on the basis of Article 758 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as it stood before amendment.

By their communication of 9 October 2018 the authorities informed the Committee that, as at 3 October 2018, the applicants had not filed an appeal in cassation against the above judgment, whilst the other two associations had also filed applications before the Thrace Court of Appeal requesting the revocation of the judgments refusing their registration, with hearings in both cases set for 7 December 2018.

By its communication received on 9 November 2018, the ‘Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe’ informed the Committee that on 30 October 2018 the applicants in Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis and Others lodged an appeal in cassation with the Court of Cassation against judgment No. 96/2018 delivered by the Thrace Court of Appeal.

General measures

1) Violation of Article 6 § 1 in Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis and Others: The issue of excessive length of civil proceedings was examined in the context of the pilot judgment in the Glykantzi / Konti Arvaniti group of cases (53401/99) and closed by Final Resolution CM/ResDH(2015)231.

2) Violations of Article 11: The Committee has noted the measures consisting in the provision of information and awareness-raising among domestic courts in accordance with Article 46 of the Convention (see the Notes of the 1172nd meeting (June 2013) (CM/Del/Dec(2013)1172)).

At its 1144th meeting (June 2012) (DH), the Committee noted with interest judgment No. 24/2012 of the Court of Cassation, delivered in South Evros Cultural and Educational Association of Western Thrace Minority, which was brought to its attention by the Greek authorities. The Committee noted, in particular, that by overturning a decision of the Court of Appeal of Thrace refusing the registration of the applicant association, the Court of Cassation directly applied Article 11 of the Convention, as interpreted by the Court.

The Committee furthermore noted the authorities’ position that this judgment could have an impact on the registration of associations in the framework of proceedings fully complying with the Court’s case-law. The Committee invited the authorities to keep it informed about the impact of this judgment in the Greek legal order.

In response to the Committee’s invitation, the authorities provided on 4 January 2017 a list of 51 associations whose registration had been permitted by domestic courts in the Thrace region. The authorities noted that the words “Muslim minority” or ”minority” appeared in the title of many associations, such as: “Cultural and educational association of the Minority of Western Thrace”, registered in 2007 and “Cultural and Sports association SOLIDARITY-DEVELOPMENT of Greek Muslim citizens whose mother tongue is Turkish”, registered in 2015.

At its 1302nd meeting, the Committee noted with regret that the Court of Appeal in Thrace, by its judgment No 89/2014, had refused the registration of an association called “Cultural Association of Turkish Women in the Prefecture of Xanthi’’ on similar grounds as gave rise to the violations in the present group of cases and invited the authorities to provide information on the outcome of the proceedings before the Court of Cassation. On 20 March 2018 the Greek Helsinki Monitor informed the Committee that in September 2017 the Court of Cassation, by judgment No 1614/2017, rejected the appeal of the above association. According to the Court of Cassation’s reasoning, the association’s name might be misleading as to whether its members were Turkish citizens or persons belonging to an ethnic Turkish minority in the Prefecture of Xanthi.

Analysis by the Secretariat

As regards individual measures

From 2008 onwards the Greek authorities have encouraged the applicants to apply to have their cases re-examined on the basis of Article 758 of the Code of Civil Procedure or lodge new applications on the basis of Article 778 of the same Code (DH-DD(2012)1022, DH-DD(2013)452). According to the authorities
(DH-DD(2013)452), Articles 758 and 778 of the Code of Civil Procedure introduced exceptions to the principle of res judicata since a) judgments issued in non-contentious proceedings would now be susceptible to review when new actual facts or a change in the conditions under which the decision was issued took place, and b) filing of a new application would now be possible when it was based on new facts.

 

Since the new law did not have retroactive effect, a transitional provision was added, with the intention of enabling the applicants in the present cases to request reopening.

The Thrace Court of Appeal, by making reference to the principle of ne bis in idem, found that the transitional provision did not apply to allow the reopening of the application brought by the applicants in the Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis and Others case (the first of the applicants in this group of cases to attempt to make use of the new law), given that the transitional provision did not expressly refer to applicants who had already requested reopening on the basis of the unamended Article 758.

 

The decision and reasoning of the Thrace Court of Appeal are deeply concerning and appear to frustrate the purpose of the transitional provisions.

The Committee might wish to stress that the obligation to fully and effectively comply with the judgments of the European Court under Article 46 of the Convention extends to the interpretation by domestic courts of domestic legislation, including possible restrictions of rights, when requests to reopen proceedings are made. As the Grand Chamber of the European Court highlighted in the case of Verein Gegen Tierfabriken Schweiz (VgT) v. Switzerland (No. 2 § 90), “the reopening procedure must […] afford the authorities of the respondent State the opportunity to abide by the conclusions and the spirit of the Court judgment being executed, while complying with the procedural safeguards in the Convention”.

Furthermore, the Committee might wish to invite the authorities rapidly to take all the measures necessary, so that the cases of all applicants are examined in full and effective compliance with the requirements of Article 11 of the Convention. In addition, the Committee might wish to call upon the authorities to provide information about further developments in all of the ongoing domestic proceedings, that is, the possible appeal in cassation of judgment No 96/2018 of the Thrace Court of Appeal, as well as the outcome of the re-opening proceedings in the cases of Emin and Others and Bekir Ousta and Others.

As regards general measures

The Court of Cassation’s judgment No 1614/2017 by which it refused to register the association “Cultural Association of Turkish Women in the Prefecture of Xanthi” on grounds similar to those criticised by the European Court raises grave concerns, because it illustrates that the Court of Cassation did not take into account the requirements of Article 11 of the Convention and the Court’s findings in this group of cases.

Similar concerns are raised by the judgment of the Thrace Court of Appeal referred to above, which is currently pending before the Court of Cassation. Consequently it appears necessary for the authorities to take additional measures to ensure that the domestic courts at all levels fully and effectively comply with the European Court’s judgments and to keep the Committee informed of all relevant developments.

The Committee might wish to resume examination of these cases in September 2019, in view of the reopening proceedings pending before the Thrace Court of Appeal concerning the cases of Bekir Ousta and Others and Emin and Others and before the Court of Cassation concerning the application by the Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis and Others association.

Financing assured: YES