Greece: Ongoing arbitrary restriction to freedom of movement of minority rights defender Slavko Mangovski
CASE GRE 181116.1
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
Restrictions to freedom of movement /
Entry ban / Arbitrary detention
The International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Greece.
The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) about the ongoing arbitrary restriction to freedom of movement of Mr. Slavko Mangovski, Macedonian minority activist who has been for years cooperating also with GHM.
According to the information received, on March 2, 2019, Mr. Mangovski was denied entry into Greece under the argument that an alert refusing entry in the country has been issued against him in the national register. Mr. Mangovski’s attempt to enter Greece followed the reception of a letter from the Greek Ombudsman, dated October 15, 2018 but received only in mid February 2019, in which the Ombudsman informed him that he was not listed into the list of undesirable third country nationals kept at the Greek Police Headquarters in Athens. The involvement of the Greek Ombudsman follows a complaint filed in May 2018 by the GHM on behalf of Mr. Mangovski as well as Ms. Trendafilka Sandeva, a lawyer with long-term cooperation with GHM on human rights issues who’s also facing an entry ban, as well as a second complaint filed by Mr. Mangovski in October 2018.
OMCT recalls that this is not the first attack against Mr. Slavko Mangovski (see background information) and highlights that the situation of human rights defenders and solidarity actors in Greece has been critical for years. Human rights defenders working on migrants’ and minority rights are consistently targeted for their legitimate work and face different types of attacks, including surveillance, arbitrary arrests, detentions, ill-treatment, entry bans and expulsion. At the same time, several complaints related to racism and minority’s rights have not been investigated and/or have been sent to the “archive of unknown perpetrators. OMCT is particularly concerned by the continued increasing of violent attacks and threats against minority rights defenders in Greece.
OMCT condemns the use of entry bans against defenders and journalists working on the rights of minorities on the ground of posing threats to national security, which appears only to be aimed at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities. OMCT urges the Greek authorities including the Greek Ombudsman to promptly and efficiently investigate the allegations as well as to ensure a due process including by providing all relevant documents that would allegedly justify an entry ban against Mr. Mangovski and Ms. Sandeva. Finally, we urge the Greek authorities to immediately and unconditionally lift such bans and more generally to put an end to all acts of harassment against all migrants and minority rights defenders in Greece.
On August 11, 2000, a ban preventing him from entering Greece was issued against Mr. Mangovski. Such decision was lifted two days after GHM intervened before the Greek authorities on his behalf.
On October 24, 2016, Mr. Mangovski was travelling from Macedonia to Greece in order to meet with Macedonian minority activists. At the Niki/Medzitlija Macedonian-Greek border crossing, he was denied entrance to Greece and informed that he was, since June 4, 2013, listed on the national registry of persons not allowed entering the Greek territory. The authorities provided him with a copy of the official document pronouncing his ban; it was the first time Mr. Mangovski learned about the existence of such ban against him, which prevented him from being able to use in a timely manner the available legal remedy to contest such measure soon after it was imposed. Moreover, he was given no explanation either about the grounds of the ban or the length of the measure.
The International Secretariat of OMCT is concerned that the ongoing ban could be linked to Mr. Mangovski’s participation as a speaker to the joint Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) and Association of Refugee Children from Aegean Macedonia (ARCAM) Gala Banquet on June 1, 2013, in Toronto, commemorating the 65th anniversary of the plight of the Detsa Begaltsi (Macedonian minority Children Refugees from the Greek Civil War).
Please write to the authorities in Greece, urging them to:
- Guarantee the freedom of movement of Mr. Slavko Mangovski and Ms. Trandaflika Sandeva, by immediately and unconditionally lifting the prohibition to enter the country which was issued against them, as it seems to only aim at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities;
- Promptly and efficiently investigate these acts of harassment against including any potential individual responsibilities within the Greek administration, as well as to ensure a due process including by providing all relevant documents that would allegedly justify an entry ban against them;
- Put an end to all acts of harassment against Mr. Mangovski and Ms. Sandeva, as well as against all minority rights defenders in Greece, so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrance or fear of reprisals;
- Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially Articles 1 and 12.2; and
- More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Greece.
- Prime Minister of Greece, Mr. Alexis Tsipras, Email: email@example.com
- Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor George Katrougkalos, firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
- Minister of Justice Mr. Michalis Kalogirou Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Minister for Citizens Protection of Greece, Ms. Olga Gerovasili, Email: email@example.com
- General Secretary for Transparency and Human Rights, Ms. Maria Yannakaki, Fax: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Permanent Representative of Greece, Ms. Anna Korka, Permanent Mission of Greece to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: email@example.com
- Ambassador of Greece, H.E. Eleftheria Galathianaki, Embassy of Greece in Brussels, Belgium, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Permanent Representative of Greece, H.E. Papastavrou Andreas, Permanent Representation to the European Union (EU), Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Greece in your respective country.
Geneva-Brussels, March 6, 2019
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
Created in 1985, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) is the main coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGO) fighting against torture, summary executions, enforced disappearances and all other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as well as for the protection of human rights defenders. With more than 200 affiliated organisations in its SOS-Torture Network, OMCT aims at accompanying, reinforcing and protecting anti-torture organisations in particular in erosive environments and provides a comprehensive system of support and protection for human rights defenders around the world.
 See OMCT’s “Written Submission to the 35th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on the situation of minority rights defenders”, issued on February 21, 2018.
 See OMCT’s Urgent appeal “Greece: Impunity regarding the attacks perpetrated in December 2016 against minority rights defenders“, issued on February 21, 2018
 See the Observatory (OMCT-FIDH), Urgent Appeal on the break-in and arson attack of the Afghan Community Centre’s premises in Athens and the threats targeting the Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR), GRE 001 / 0318 / OBS 036, published on March 30, 2018.
Panyote Elias Dimitras is the founder and president of the Greek Helsinki Watch since 1992, and since 1998 he has been the Director of the Documenting and Information Center for Minorities in Southeastern Europe. He is a PhD of political and legal sciences at Harvard University, one of the rare intellectuals who openly speak about the existence of a Macedonian minority in Greece. Due to his fierce criticism towards the Greek xenophobic policy and the statements that there is a Macedonian minority in Greece, the state started an investigation against him, accusing him of treason. The Minister of Justice accepted the charges, so Dimitras is now persecuted by the Greek Public Prosecutor. If the case ends up in court, he says that he will face life imprisonment. He is one of the greatest fighters for human rights, who promote equality among people as the highest achievement of the contemporary world.
We strongly recomend to our public, to visit the web-page of Greek Helsinki Monitor(www.greekhelsinki.gr); several interviews of Panayote Dimitras on YuTube as well as the web-page of the organisation of Vinozito(www.florina.org)
1. Macedonia and Greece have a hard dispute over the use of the Macedonian constitutional name. Is the dispute just in the usage of the name Macedonia or does it have another background?
Panayote Dimitras: It is essentially not about the name but about the identity. Greece refuses to accept that there can be a Macedonian ethnic identity anywhere and most importantly within its territory, where no ethnic minorities are recognized, be they Macedonian or Turkish.
2. Beside the official Macedonian position there are a remarkable group of intellectuals who openly call for a compromise because of the European future of Macedonia. Is there such group in Greece, whose position is contrary to the official Greek politics?
Panayote Dimitras: There is a however small group of people in Greece ready to accept the constitutional name of the Republic of Macedonia and the existence of a Macedonian minority in Greece but they face the hostility and harassment of the dominant majority.
3. Both nations are exhausted by political questions and the long process dispute. Is it possible for both sides, Macedonia and Greece, to find power and reason and resolve the problem in the near future?
Panayote Dimitras: Greeks may accept a “North Macedonia” name for the country if agreed upon by both sides but would have a very hard time to accept recognition of a Macedonian ethnicity and language, which makes the likelihood of reason prevailing small.
4. What in your opinion is the fair compromise?
Panayote Dimitras: Personally I do not think that there is a reason for countries and ethnic groups to change their names because others want to. Yet in view of the situation, a “North Macedonia” name but with recognition of the Macedonian ethnicity and language in both the Republic and in adjacent countries is a fair compromise.
5. Greece threatens that it will block the Macedonian EU accession, after it did that within the NATO. Why the need for a bilateral issue to become a European problem?
Panayote Dimitras: Because the EU and NATO countries have allowed all too long that Greece, as an old member, imposes its views on the other member countries, and tolerate its defiance with impunity of the European Court of Human Rights judgments and recommendations of all expert institutions of the Council of Europe and the UN.
6. Do you believe in a prompt solution of the problem?
Panayote Dimitras: In view of all the above, I cannot be at all optimistic.