01/03/2019: Δύο χρόνια περιφρόνησης ΟΗΕ από Ελλάδα για διακρίσεις σε βάρος γυναικών

Η Ελλάδα όφειλε να υποβάλει έκθεση στην Επιτροπή του ΟΗΕ για την Εξάλειψη των Διακρίσεων κατά των Γυναικών (CEDAW), για την εφαρμογή της αντίστοιχης Σύμβασης, την 1 Μαρτίου 2017. Σήμερα, ακριβώς δύο χρόνια αργότερα, στη συνημμένη ιστοσελίδα του ΟΗΕ, φαίνεται πως η ελληνική κυβέρνηση, που καμαρώνει πως ενδιαφέρεται για τα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα και την ισότητα, με δύο αντίστοιχες γενικές γραμματείες στις οποίες μάλιστα προΐστανται γυναίκες, η Μαρία Γιαννακάκη και η Φωτεινή Κούβελα, δεν έχει υποβάλει την έκθεση δείχνοντας την περιφρόνησή της προς τον ΟΗΕ, την καταπολέμηση των διακρίσεων κατά των γυναικών και τελικά τη δημοκρατία.

Βέβαια, εκτός από το Ελληνικό Παρατηρητήριο του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ), κανένας άλλος φορέας, και ειδικότερα καμιά από τις γυναικείες οργανώσεις, δεν φαίνεται να ενοχλείται. Άλλωστε, όταν το Φεβρουάριο 2013 η CEDAW εξέτασε την εφαρμογή της Σύμβασης από την Ελλάδα, μόνο το ΕΠΣΕ εμφανίστηκε στην Επιτροπή αυτή για να κάνει κριτική στην έκθεση της Ελλάδας: η απουσία των γυναικείων οργανώσεων εξέπληξε την Επιτροπή και καταγράφηκε στα κείμενά της την 1 Μαρτίου 2013. Σχετικά είναι τα ακόλουθα δύο κείμενα:

cedaw greece non report 1-3-2019

Parallel Report on Greece’s compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

GREEK HELSINKI MONITOR (GHM)
Address: P.O. Box 60820, GR-15304 Glyka Nera
Tel.: (+30) 2103472259 Fax: (+30) 2106018760
e-mail: panayotedimitras@gmail.com website: https://greekhelsinki.wordpress.com


Parallel Report on Greece’s compliance
with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

11 February 2019


This report was prepared for submission to the United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) for the compilation of a list of issues on Greece during its 11th Pre-Sessional Working Group (8-11 April 2019). It contains comments on Greece’s Initial Report (CRPD/C/GRC/1) submitted on 1 June 2015.



Greek Helsinki Monitor
 (GHM), founded in 1993, monitors, publishes, lobbies, and litigates on human and minority rights and anti-discrimination issues in Greece and, from time to time, in the Balkans. It also monitors Greek and, when opportunity arises, Balkan media for stereotypes and hate speech. It issues press releases and prepares (usually jointly with other NGOs) detailed annual reports; parallel reports to UN Treaty Bodies; and specialized reports on ill-treatment and on ethno-national, ethno-linguistic, religious and immigrant communities, in Greece and in other Balkan countries. It operates a general web site (http://greekhelsinki.worldpress.com), a specialized website on racist crimes in Greece (https://racistcrimeswatch.wordpress.com) and a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/panayote) covering human rights issues and comprehensive and comparable presentations of minorities in the Balkan region. GHM is a member of the European Implementation Network (EIN); GHM’s Spokesperson Panayote Dimitras has been a member of EIN’s Board since 2018; GHM is a member too of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) Network and GHM’s Spokesperson Panayote Dimitras is an OMCT General Assembly member. GHM is also member of the Justicia European Rights Network, the International Detention Coalition (IDC), the International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH), the Network Against the Extreme Right, the Campaign for the access to asylumand the Greek Network for the Right to Housing. Panayote Dimitras is the correspondent of Hope not hate in Greece.

  1. Preamble

Greece mentions that its country report “was prepared in cooperation with … the National Confederation of Disabled People (ESAMEA). Yet, on the ESAMEA website, very rich in information about all ESAMEA activities, meetings, reports, etc., there is no reference to such a contribution, nor is Greece’s report available there. In fact, Greece’s report does not seem to be available on line anywhere. Moreover, unlike for all other reports to UN Treaty Bodies, the Greek National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) was not asked to comment on the draft before its submission to CRPD.

The report was prepared by the Directorate of International Relations of the Ministry of Labor, Social Security and Social Solidarity, which was at the time the focal point for Greece, but on the Ministry’s website, neither is the report available, nor is there any reference to its focal point role.

Since 2017, with Law 4488/2017, the central focal point is the General Secretariat for Human Rights at the Ministry of Justice. Yet on its website there is no reference to its focal point role or to any related action it may have taken, nor is the report available. On the personal website of the General Secretary Maria Yannakaki there is only one statement on the 2017 National and International Day for Persons with Disabilities which is declaratory of its intentions. It was not repeated in 2018. Additionally, hundreds of focal points have been established: one in every Ministry (that must inter alia publish an annual report), plus all Mayors and Regional Governors themselves (no obligation for annual reports). In no Ministry website as well as in no Municipality or Region website is information about such responsibility or related action available, although occasionally some action related to the rights of persons with disabilities may be listed.

Since 2017 as well, the Coordination Mechanism is the Minister of State who appointed in June 2018 on of his assistants as Director for the Operation of the Coordination Mechanism. On the Ministry’s website one will find two broad declaratory statements from 2016 and 2017 on the implementation of the CRPD and a Statement on the 2018 National and International Day for Persons with Disabilities. There is also a webpage with actions taken through 2018. There is however a very rich and active Facebook page that informs about several related activities including new related legislation. Yet the report is not there either.

Finally, since 2017 there is also a Framework for the Promotion of the Implementation of the CRPD who is the Greek Ombudsman. This Independent Authority has mediated in several individual cases following complaints related to the rights of persons with disabilities. However, its first comprehensive annual report that is mandated to evaluate also legislation and policies is due for publication in March 2019. Also, the report is not available on its website either, as it appears to be “Greece’s best kept secret!”

It is worth mentioning that, soon after the adoption of the CRPD by Greece, then City of Athens Ombudsperson issued a legal advice on the 2013 National and International Day for Persons with Disabilities. The table of contents is indicative of everyday problems faced by people with diability: “Priority in cases of people with disabilities pending before the services of the Municipality of Athens and not yet processed – Documents requested when submitting applications for the provision of parking spaces even though not provided for in the relevant Municipal Council Act – Discontinuation of financial aid to persons with disabilities only after issuing of a relative social worker’s report – From the beginning, inform the person concerned of the possibility to pay any overpayments in installments – Consultation with organizations representing people with disabilities, to review the City Council Act for parking facilities and the overall institutional framework for conducting audits on behalf of municipal services when targeting acts of disabled people for the exercise of the right of accessibility – Forwarding of requests to third party services, outside the City of Athens – Collection of all information on the rights of people with disability that can be exercised through the City of Athens Portal more easily accessible website with a clear mark on the home page.” The Mayor of Athens (who was before the Greek Ombudsman) never replied to that report, nor did he implement the recommendations, not even the one to introduce a clear mark in the homepages of the Municipality and of the Municipal Multi-Purpose Centers linking to related information.

Greece should therefore be asked to provide:

  1. Αn explanation of the procedure used to consult [for the drafting of the report] with civil society and in particular with representative organizations of persons with disabilities and the measures taken to ensure that this process was fully accessible,” as well as on the availability (if any) of the report in Greek and in English on state websites.
  2. Comprehensive summary reports of the actions of the Central and other Focal Points, the Coordination Mechanism and the Framework for the effective implementation of the Convention and the transparency of their activities through easily accessible websites; and in particular the first forthcoming report of the Greek Ombudsman in its role as Framework.
  1. Information as to whether focal points in all Ministries, Municipalities and Regions have been appointed and if so where is a list of all of them available as well as where is information oν their work available on line.
  1. Exhaustive list of all new legislated developments since 2015, as well as of their implementation along with a critical evaluation and an impact assessment. 
  2. Information on the implementation of the 2013 recommendations of the City of Athens Ombudsperson. 

Article 1-4

In paragraph 9 of the report it is correctly stated that “disability is not treated as a medical problem through the assignment to it of a specific percentage of disability, but as a result of the interaction between people with disabilities and behavioural disorders and obstacles, which derive from their physical environment and from existing social prejudices and can prevent their equal access to and participation in society.” Except that this is not applied in Greece. The criteria for the assignment of a percentage of disability are established by Decision Φ. 80000/45219/1864 and are exclusively medical. There is no assessment of possible “interaction with various barriers.”

Additionally, the report reports that most complaints received by the Greek Ombudsman concern “reasonable accommodation.” Yet, the Ombudsman’s conclusions and recommendations are not reported.

Greece should therefore be asked to explain why in Decision Φ. 80000/45219/1864 the assessment of disability is strictly made as a medical problem; as well as to provide at least a comprehensive summary of the Ombudsman’s recommendations on the basis of the complaints it has received.

Article 5 – Equality and non-discrimination

There is indeed antiracism Law 927/79 applicable since 2014 also to cases with persons with disabilities as victims. There is also Article 81A of the Criminal Code on racist crimes that includes disability in the criteria to discern racist motive. However, there has never been any training of prosecutors and judges and/or lawyers on the treatment of disability as a concept, the persons with disabilities as subjects who turn to justice for the defense of their rights. The result is that there is a widespread impression that the related case law is very thin and there is no known conviction to date.

Greek Helsinki Monitor, on 1 October 2018, monitored a trial, before an Athens Three-Member Misdemeanors Court, of a taxi driver accused of “illegal violence motivated by the disability of the victim” because on 25 May 2015 he had used violence to refuse a ride to a person with spastic tetraplegia, who also happened to be an activist for the rights of persons with disabilities. It is noteworthy that at the time the taxi company who had sent the driver to the client offered her apologies and dismissed the driver. In the hearing, the evidence was compelling and the prosecutor, who happened to be also the special Athens Prosecutor for Racist Crimes but also OSCE’s Contact Point in Greece for Racist Crimes, asked for the conviction of the defendant delivering an eloquent explanation why there was such a crime. Yet the court, with judgment AT2573/2018, acquitted the defendant fully subscribing to the defendant’s version of the event, not corroborated by any eyewitness, who stated that he thought that the victim was drunk… It is commendable that the Prosecutor’s Office appealed the acquittal and a trial before an Athens Three-Member Appeals Court will be held on 18 September 2019, but the judges who delivered the acquittal are not known to have been the subsect of any disciplinary procedure.

Moreover, anti-discrimination Law 3304/2005 was abolished in 2016 and was replaced with Law 4443/2016. Greece fails to provide any statistical data on the implementation of Law 3304/2005 and information on the administrative or criminal sanctions it may have led to, let alone any impact assessment.

Yet an important deficiency of the Greek legal system is that sanctions against those who park in special parking places for persons with disabilities, or in ramps for persons with disabilities, or in pathways for the blind are only administrative and can only be imposed by police officers present to record them. There is repeated experience of reluctance of police to respond to such calls promptly or sometimes not at all, usually because of the severity of the sanction, i.e. removal for 60 days of the car license plates and license permit as well as the driver’s license, but only for the parking places and the ramps. So this is a regular scene in related public spaces in Greece (pictures from January 2019 GHM complaints; they were taken in Greater Athens suburbs Kallithea and Glyka Nerawhen the emergency police number 100 was called for the Glyka Nera violation they refused to send anyone).

There is no special sanction for those parking in pathways for the blind, which is treated as mere parking οn pedestrian walks with a fine of 40 euros. Let alone that most pathways for the blind are unusable. So this is a regular scene in related public spaces in Greece, namely of a police bus parked in the Athens Appeals Court (on the left – the Athens Appeals Court is around the corner from the Supreme Court) and from the very center of Athens (by the National Theater) on the right where the pathway for the blind is interrupted by water and electricity metal constructions giving access to underground instruments, let alone that it is in terrible shape (GHM pictures from a complaint filed in December 2018 on the left and a not yet public report to the City of Athens in January 2019 on the right – GHM has on file scores of similar pictures and has filed half a dozen complaints for the police abuse at the Athens Appeals Court all ignored by the Prosecutor for Racist Crimes!).

In its complaints, GHM has argued that the antiracism legislation is applicable as those parking in these places deliberately and publicly cause an actual discrimination against persons with disabilities as they deny those persons the right to circulate in the respective places without discrimination since in effect they hinder the accessibility to those places.

Greece should therefore be asked to provide statistics from the use of Laws 927/79 and 3304/2005 and its replacement 4443/2106 with administrative and criminal sanctions imposed; explain why the administrative sanctions imposed for parking in ramps and in parking places for persons with disabilities are not also applicable for parking in pathways for the blind; also explain the acquittal in the October 2018 trial and inform is after the appeal sanctions were imposed on the judges and provide information on training of judicial and law enforcement officials on how to treat complaints from persons with disabilities; and inform if it considers introducing criminal legislation to punish parking in places or pathways reserved for person with disabilities and why no sanctions have been imposed in several cases reported by GHM and other organizations or individuals.

Article 6 – Women with disabilities

Greece does not keep statistics for women with disabilities, related to criminality, victimization, employment, participation in political life, etc. Several campaigns and informational social spots do not meet the standards of accessibility, e.g. the spot for the eradication of violence against women. Information, particularly of those who are highly vulnerable, like women with intellectual or mental disabilities, is inadequate if not non-existent. Shelters for victimized women are not accessible. Policies for women with disabilities are not included in mainstream policies. No initiatives have been taken to support women with disabilities during pregnancy. Medical staff should properly inform disabled women about the versions of prenatal screening and decision-making regarding serious operations like abortion, sterilization, etc. The information should be fully accessible so as to be understood. Women with mental disabilities are highly vulnerable to sterilization. Modern technology is a help and can improve the daily living of women with disabilities. There is no evidence that medical staff is systematically informed about all these issues.

Greece should therefore be asked to provide if available statistical data on women with disabilities in relation to criminality, victimization, employment, participation in political life; also inform on accessibility of information for women with disabilities through campaigns or other material, as well as accessibility of shelters for victimized women; and finally inform on support to and information for women with disabilities during pregnancy.

Article 8 – Awareness-raising

The public television program does not provide programs with an acoustic description for the Blind. Newscasts in sign language to the deaf after the 2018 Ministerial Decision are only 7 minutes a day … Accessible decoders for people with disabilities were never given in 2008-2009 although announced. There is no adaptation of subtitling to a very simple text for People with Intellectual Disabilities. All that apply to the private television stations as well.

Greece in the report mentions that the text of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is now available in various accessible formats, including in Greek Sign Language and Greek Braille writing, but does not mention where: neither is the original form nor in these formats is the Convention available in the websites of the three governments agencies referred to above, or of the NCHR or –for the accessible formats- of the ESAMEA.

Greece should therefore be asked to provide detailed information on the relevant programs available on public and on private television, including newscasts and of the availability of accessible decoders; as well as on the availability of the Convention in all formats in public websites as well as in the ESAMEA one.

Article 9 – Accessibility

The legal provisions on accessibility submitted by Greece are to a large extent satisfactory. Yet, there is no information as to their implementation, including most crucially which qualified body assesses the effective accessibility of all facilities that are supposed to have adapted to the regulations. As already stated above, in a large number of cases, pathways for the blind are totally inadequate, and the same is true with many ramps for persons with disabilities that are two steep or too rough to be able to be used effectively. There are no effective remedies against such inappropriate constructions, which is why none is reported by Greece.

Let alone the fact that, as mentioned above, these facilities are often abused by persons without disabilities with very rare to be efficient control and sanctions by police.

While indeed the Athens Metro and the main airports are accessible, the trains and most ships including ferries and most ports are not.

Ramps in buses often do not operate because of lack of adequate maintenance. Additionally although guide dogs are allowed in public transports, many drivers are not informed let alone trained and there are frequently reported incidents of refusals to allow those dogs aboard buses. Again, even when reported including with complaints, GHM experience shows that authorities often fail to impose administrative or criminal sanctions.

The portal www.prosvasi-amea.gov.gr was launched in 2013 in the framework of an EU-funded project but as it is no longer available nor are traces of it available in the Internet Archive one can assume that is was discontinued soon after its launch when the project ended.

Greece should therefore be asked to provide concrete information on state agencies that inspect and evaluate the accessibility of all facilities provided by law, including with statistics on inspections, conclusions, possible rejections, sanctions etc.; as well as on effective accessibility of buses, trains, ships including ferries, and ports, and on training of drivers to accept if not facilitate access of guide dogs and sanctions when they refuse; and finally, as to the fate of the portal www.prosvasi-amea.gov.gr and any replacement.

Article 13 – Access to justice

Access to justice for people with disabilities as well as for judicial officials with disabilities including lawyers is extremely difficult, as most courts or court buildings –including in Greece’s largest court house, the Athens First Instance Court- lack accessibility.

Moreover, there is a lack of training of police officers on the treatment of persons with disabilities in detention of any kind. For example, it has been reported that they wear handcuffs to the deaf and do not remove them so that they can sense or use the sign language in the investigative and other processes that require communication.

Greece should therefore be asked to provide information as to the accessibility of all court houses; as well as to the training of police officers on how to treat persons with disabilities in detention especially the deaf.

Article 21 – Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information

The “Guide for the Disabled Citizen” (paragraph 182) is indeed a very good practice except that it dates from 2007 and therefore needs updating.

Article 24 – Education

As ActionAid Greece stated based on their 2014 research, “the most shameful element of our survey is that only 15% of the children with disabilities in Greece go to school! Only 15%! The remaining 85%, that is some 170,000 children remain invisible to the education community, limiting their chances to become visible in the future to our society.” “According to head ActionAid researcher Pelagia Papanikolaou, a PhD [in criminology] at Athens Law School, the main obstacles keeping disabled children from receiving an education are shortages in transportation, infrastructure such as ramps, audio-visual aids, staff and regular funding.”

In the survey it was also highlighted that there is no national database of children with disabilities or of persons with disabilities in general. Additionally, data is provided to the effect that for the school year 2014-2015, according to an ESAMEAGeneral Confederation of Workers in Greece (GSEE) comprehensive study, only 1,740 out of some 4,000 applications for provision of parallel support to children with disabilities to attend general schools were approved, while it is not known if and where the remaining approximately 2,300 children attended school in that school year. The limited number of applications approved is attributed to the lack of funds as a result of the crisis. Moreover, there is no updated database and evaluation of the functioning and the needs of special education schools especially at the time of financial crisis and the effects of the latter on those schools. There was a general promise by the Ministry of Education that such data bases will be created in 2015-2016 but it was not materialized, which was confirmed by the fact that there is no such reference in Greece’s report.

In 2015, GHM submitted this information to the UN CESCR and UN HRCttee requesting them to reiterate the UN CRC’s 2012 recommendations to Greece on children with disabilities GHM included in the reports:

Disability, basic health and welfare (arts. 6, 18 (para. 3), 23, 24, 26, 27 (paras. 1-3) of the Convention)

Children with disabilities

  1. The Committee notes that the State party has adopted laws and established services and institutions with the aim of supporting children with disabilities, promoting their social participation, including joint learning in schools, and developing their independence. However, the Committee remains concerned that deep-rooted discrimination still exists and that measures for children with disabilities are not carefully monitored, as well as the unavailability of the statistical data on children with disabilities in the State party. It is deeply concerned at the widespread use of institutionalization, mainly because of lack of day care and community services for children with the most serious forms of disabilities. The Committee is further deeply concerned about the recently reported case of Children’s Care Centre in Lechaina of children with disabilities living under inhumane and unacceptable conditions including being systematically sedated and subject to practices such as being tied to their beds, and the use of cage beds due to shortage of staff.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party, in accordance with its General comment No.9 (2006) on the rights of children with disabilities: 

(a) Revise and adopt specific legislation in order to fully protect all children with disabilities, and establish a monitoring system, which carefully records progress made and identifies shortcomings in implementation; 

(b) Provide community-based services that focus on enhancing the quality of life of children with disabilities, meeting their basic needs and ensuring their inclusion and participation; 

(c) Make every effort to provide programmes and services for children with disabilities with adequate human and financial resources and periodic monitoring of placement of children with disabilities and to adopt, as a matter of priority, measures to ensure that no children with disabilities are placed under such inhumane conditions. Furthermore, placement in residential institutions should be the last resort, depending on the needs of the child; 

(d) Equip schools with the necessary facilities for the inclusive education of children with disabilities and ensure that they can choose their preferred school or move between regular schools and special needs schools according to their best interests; 

(e) Provide assistance to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working for and with children with disabilities; and 

(f) Ensure that residential centres for children and persons with disabilities are adequately staffed and that training is provided for professional staff working with children with disabilities, such as teachers, social workers, health, medical, therapeutic and care personnel.

The two UN Committees issued the following related concluding observations and recommendations:

Inclusive education for children with disabilities (CESCR – 27 October 2015)

  1. Despite measures taken by the State party, including Law 4115/2013 which facilitates integration of students with special education needs in mainstream schools, the Committee is concerned at reports indicating extremely low rate of enrolment of children with disabilities in schools, indicating that only 15% of the children with disabilities go to school (arts. 13 and 2, para. 2).
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party collect disaggregated data on school enrolment and drop-out rates at various levels of education of children with disabilities, disaggregated by sex and national or ethnic origin, to identify obstacles to accessing and continuing education and to devise appropriate strategies. The State party should also ensure that all children with disabilities have access to quality and inclusive education.

Persons with disabilities  (HRCttee – 3 December 2015)

  1. The Committee notes with concern the discrimination faced by persons with disabilities, in particular with regard to access to education, employment and health services and further regrets the impact of the economic crises and austerity measures on their situation. While noting the information provided by the State party that physical restraints on mental health patients are only used as a measure of last resort, the Committee is concerned at reports indicating the continuing widespread use of such measures, including the use of enclosed restraint beds (cages/net beds) and systematic sedation as a means to restrain patients with intellectual disabilities, including children, in institutions. (arts. 2, 7, 9, 10 and 24)
  2. The State party should strengthen the measures taken to protect persons with disabilities from discrimination, particularly with regard to access to education, employment and health services. The State party should take immediate measures to abolish the use of enclosed restraint beds and systematic sedation in psychiatric and related institutions. Furthermore, the State party should establish an independent monitoring and reporting system, and ensure that abuses are effectively investigated and prosecuted and that redress is provided to the victims and their families.

Greece should therefore be asked to provide detailed and documented in transparent way information on how it implemented the recommendations of UN CRC, UN CESCR and UN HRCttee including whether a comprehensive and transparent data base on children with disabilities’ school attendance and provision to them of parallel support (as well as applications for such support) has been or is being established.

Article 25 – Health

On 17 August 2016, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights (CHR) sent a letter to the Greek government with concerns on “the human rights of persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities and their de-institutionalization” following his visit to Greece. We reproduce below in facsimile his grave concerns, mainly on the extensive use of sedatives and restraints including cages, as well as on very high rates of compulsory psychiatric confinement, often in violation of national legislation as confirmed by two ECtHR judgments in 2011. Greece for the first time in the history of CHR visits and ensuing letters or reports on Greece did not provide any replies! Moreover, Greece has also failed for more than six years to provide the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, supervising the execution of the two judgments, with “an action plan on the measures taken to address all the shortcomings identified by the Court regarding the procedure of involuntary placement for psychiatric examination” (see summery below).

Commissioner for Human Rights letter to the Greek government (excerpts)

fivesix

Committee of Ministers summary of the state of execution of
Venios & Karamanof judgments (2019)

Case Description: Involuntary placement for psychiatric examination in breach of domestic law (violation of Article 5 §1 e). More specifically the Court found that competent authorities did not comply with the timeframe set in domestic law for the involuntary placement of the applicants for psychiatric examination.

General measures: action plan received on 23/04/2012. Up-dated action plan/report is awaited on the measures taken to address all the shortcomings identified by the Court regarding the procedure of involuntary placement for psychiatric examination (see in particular par. 48 of the Karamanof judgment).

Moreover, the CHR made reference to the mental health facility (KEPEP) in Lechaina (Pleoponnese). Its case became widely known in Greece from 16 February 2011 onwards with a series of almost daily articles by in the daily “Eleftherotypia.” The articles were based on a report “Working with people with compromised development and their rights to access a full and rewarding life. Report about the children’s human rights inside ΚΕΡΕΡ Lechainon, IIlias Prefecture, Greece” written in November 2009 by a group of five volunteers who worked for a period of seven months in Greece as part of the Youth in Action Program – European Voluntary Service.[1] The articles include pictures of children tied all day to their cages or beds (see one here). The summary impressions of those volunteers were:

“We have reached the conclusion that ΚΕΡΕΡ, Lechainon does not manage to promote basic human rights that ensure that these children with disabilities can live a worthy life in optimum conditions, developing their own abilities and some amount of self-care. We would like to think that the subhuman conditions that these children live currently in will change someday. At the same time, we feel a great ethical responsibility to bring their plight to the attention of somebody who has the ability to make changes. We are calling for a commitment and strategic action from the Greek state with respect to the population with special needs and in particular to Greek children with disabilities. At present (November 2009) there is no psychological therapy available and it has been like this since December (2008) .The physiotherapists do not have a specific room within ΚΕΡΕΡ, so even though there are 2 hired and paid physiotherapists they do not actively work and provide this service. The therapy sessions are mainly lead by the Occupational therapist but she has to work with little resources and motivation. From what we have seen of the sessions, there is little production and the small tasks that take place are simple for even an unqualified person to administer. There is only one doctor present in ΚΕΡΕΡ to diagnoses and administer prescriptions. She is newly qualified and has little experience in such an extreme care centre. When the passage refers to the ‘inmates’ receiving therapy, in actuality only a very small percentage really do. Αll the inmates have some form of disability and therefore should be eligible for therapy. Only 14 get the opportunity to attend therapy, and unfortunately these are not the children most in need of this service. Calling the children ‘Inmates’ doesn’t promote an image of free, happy, life full people that a care centre should promote, but instead images of criminals in cages, looked away in prison. Therefore this observation may actually me the only truth in the whole passage, because in fact the children and young people are treated like criminals; being deprived of their luxuries and freedom of choice. In fact there are many cages that these children have to live in day in day out, and in fact the place feels like a prison, with a life sentence for all, but only for the crime that these children where born disabled with unfortunate social situations. We ask the law and state is this fair and justified?”

On 23 March 2010, the Ombudsman, based on this information, alerted the Ministry of Health but nothing changed through the time of the revelations. Such conditions exist in similar institutions, as documented in 2016 CHR report.

Finally, in April 2018, the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) visited inter alia several psychiatric establishments. Soon after it published its preliminary observations and subsequently submitted its comprehensive report, which though for the first time in Greece’s history of reviews by the CPT, has not be published as Greece has not authorized its publication! Yet, the preliminary conclusions reprinted below are telling:

Preliminary observations made by Georg HØYER, Head of Delegation, and Jari PIRJOLA, Head of Sub-delegation, of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) at the end of the CPT’s ad hoc visit to Greece (10 to 19 April 2018)

  1. The focus of the ad hoc visit was two-fold: on the one hand, the delegation looked into the treatment, living conditions and safeguards offered to civil and forensic patients in psychiatric establishments; on the other hand, it examined the situation of foreign nationals deprived of their liberty under aliens’ legislation. A list of the establishments visited is attached. (…)

Psychiatric establishments

  1. The delegation notes positively that, in most of the establishments visited, patients spoke well of staff, and that hardly any allegations of ill-treatment of patients by staff were received. In general, the delegation observed a caring attitude towards patients and a relaxed atmosphere, especially in those establishments in which patients generally enjoy a less confined environment. Nevertheless, the delegation received some isolated allegations of verbal abuse and disrespectful behaviour by staff. A clear message should be communicated to staff that such behaviour is unacceptable.
  2. Most of the establishments visited by the delegation are seriously understaffed. Given the strain that they are under, it is impressive to see the level of motivation and caring attitude demonstrated by staff during the visit. Careful consideration must be given to the management of resources in the current context of austerity: essential services, such as providing for vulnerable patients, cannot be taken care of properly given the current low staffing levels.
  3. One of the most serious findings during the visit concerns the widespread practice of excessive use of mechanical restraints. A combination of factors has converged to result in a situation which needs to be urgently reviewed. These factors include low staffing levels, a lack of appropriate training on restraints, a lack of strict criteria for the use of restraints in line with international standards, inappropriate restraints methods and inadequate or absent recording of the use of restraints. The delegation found no properly kept, dedicated register on restraints in use at the establishments visited. The delegation urges the Greek authorities to carry out a review of the use of mechanical restraints in all psychiatric establishments, including private institutions, with a view to bringing the policy and practice in line with the specific standards of the CPT. The delegation would like to be informed of the steps taken to review and improve the situation. 
  4. Any review of the policy and practice regarding restraints should not come at the expense of the open regime conditions, which are one of the most positive aspects of the situation observed in a number of the establishments visited, particularly at Dromokaiteio Psychiatric Hospital and at the Psychiatric Unit at Sotiria General Hospital. In contrast, the absence of outdoor exercise for patients placed at the Psychiatric Unit in Evangelismos General Hospital, some of them there for months or even years, is unacceptable. The delegation requests that this situation be remedied as a matter of urgency.
  5. As regards material conditions, overcrowding at all three psychiatric units of general hospitals visited meant that patients’ beds are regularly placed in the corridor for extended periods. In particular, at Evangelismos Psychiatric Unit certain bedridden and/or restrained patients are accommodated in the corridor, some in diapers which are changed by staff in full view of others. This unacceptable situation must be urgently addressed. The delegation invokes Article 8, paragraph 5, of the European Convention for the Prevention of Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the Convention) and calls upon the Greek authorities to put an immediate stop to the practice, at the Psychiatric Unit of Evangelismos General Hospital, of placing people in need of intensive care and supervision in the corridor. Patients in need of restraint or requiring assistance as regards their hygiene needs should be cared for in hospital rooms, under close monitoring by staff, and under conditions which respect their privacy and dignity.
  6. Transfers of individuals by the police to an establishment for psychiatric assessment remain a problem, which the CPT has already pointed out previously. The police should not be the default transportation option for such cases. Persons with health-care needs should, primarily, be transported by health-care staff. As is borne out by interviews with patients, health-care staff and police officers themselves, the police are not the appropriate service to carry out such transfers. The delegation heard of the frequent use of tight, painful handcuffs, sometimes for extended transfers, lasting many hours, from remote locations. It also heard one allegation of excessive use of force by the police during such a transfer. In the delegation’s view, it is for the Ministry of Health to lead efforts to find a humane solution to this problem as a matter of priority.
  7. At the time of the visit, Korydallos Prison Psychiatric Hospital was still entirely under the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice, in spite of the 2009 law (n. 3772, Article 13) providing for its integration into the Greek national health services. The delegation would like to be informed of the timeline for completion of the transfer of responsibility for medical services at this establishment. 
  8. In the delegation’s view, the practice concerning the use of the so-called “blue” or protective cells is totally unacceptable and must cease immediately. These basement cells are unfit for holding persons for any longer than the shortest time necessary to address an acute situation to prevent self-harm or harm to others. The delegation observed, however, that patients are placed in these cells for periods of several days, stripped naked, and left unattended for hours, which resulted in them defecating and urinating in the cell. The delegation invokes Article 8, paragraph 5, of the Convention and urges the Greek authorities to immediately put an end to the current practice regarding the use of the “blue” or protective cells at Korydallos Prison Psychiatric Hospital. It is totally unacceptable to place people naked, without supervision, and for extended periods, in these cells. In accordance with the standards applicable for a proper psychiatric hospital, if there is a need to seclude patients for protective purposes, this should be done for the shortest possible time necessary to resolve the acute situation and during that time the person should be permanently monitored by staff.

Greece should therefore be asked to provide its comments and replies to the above CHR and CPT documents, as well as the long overdue action plan on the execution of the ECtHR judgments, including in particular whether it has substantially decreased the use of sedatives and restraints, has stopped the compulsory confinement in violation of national legislation, the placing of people in need of intensive care and supervision in corridors, and the use of “blue cells.” Greece should also be asked to provide a copy of the final CPT report, preferably also after asking for its publication by CPT.



APPENDIX: A RECENT ARTICLE THAT SAYS IT ALL

Athens, a city to live … if you are not a person with disabilities.
An inhospitable capital that does not respect people with disabilities
[translated by Greek Helsinki Monitor from the original in Greek available at  https://www.in.gr/2019/02/08/apopsi/athina-poli-gia-na-zeis-den-eisai-amea/]

Olga Stefou
8 February 2019

Athens is a city for you to walk and enjoy, it is sunny, with beautiful buildings, and bitter orange trees. In spring your heart opens in its streets. Unless you are a person with disabilities. If you are a person with disabilities, you will stay home.

The city is inhospitable for people with disabilities. A simple ride with the eyes of a a person with disabilities will convince you: The sidewalks are broken and do not help the cane or the wheelchair, the ramps on one sidewalk are not available in the next  sidewalk and which satanic mind thought on a fifty centimeter sidewalk to put α flowerbed to plant a bitter orange tree?

And this is the scenario that concerns those who are mobility impaired (and the reality of the elderly and the parents with pushchairs, too). When we talk now about people with visual impairments, then we learn that they are faced with the same problems (especially poles and bitter orange trees), plus the private initiative.

In the special lanes for visually impaired people, on their way, one can find a lot of things. You can into a pole. Or into a tree. You can, more often than not, bump into a restaurant table that has never been removed from the municipal police, which is usually too busy as it is chasing street vendors.

Athens – A city to park in parking for persons with disabilities

Inhospitable Athens. Indicatively, 11% of parking violations for 2017 were for parking in ramps for the disabled. But the problem with the ramps is not the only one. Athens is a city with almost no awareness for people with disabilities. Infrastructures are few or blocked or damaged and do not have full accessibility paths to help people with disabilities. Infrastructure is either scarce or blocked or damaged and has no pathways fully accessible that will help persons with disabilities to move around.

Buildings for the few and  … upright

The problem is not only the streets, but also the buildings of the city. Even public buildings. Very rarely, admittedly, but even nowadays, you will still find public buildings that have not followed the instructions for accessibility for the persons with disabilities or have not repaired damages that prevent the circulation of citizens with disabilities. As for private buildings, no question. The entrances to restaurants, businesses and, above all, multi-apartment buildings are often prohibitive for people with disabilities. And especially in apartment buildings, it is prohibitive for everything: if someone cannot go down the stairs of the entrance, how is he supposed to be able to get out of his home?

City for living in only with help

If you are a person with disabilities, you cannot live in Athens. At least, not easily. You cannot go out on the road alone and even if you do, you cannot move. Of course, in the life of the city the absence of persons with disabilities has no cost, as it has not learned to integrate people in wheelchairs or with walking sticks. It is, however, a matter of dignity of the city itself towards its citizens. It has, if anything, an obligation to allow them to leave their home.


[1] The report and the pictures are on file with GHM and can become available on request.

 

[Report in word format: submission to crpd february 2019]

 

Turkish minority in Rhodes and Kos: Recognized internationally – persecuted in Greece

GREEK HELSINKI MONITOR (GHM)
Address: P.O. Box 60820, GR-15304 Glyka Nera
Telephone: (+30) 2103472259 Fax: (+30) 2106018760
e-mail: panayotedimitras@gmail.com website: https://greekhelsinki.wordpress.com



Turkish minority in Rhodes and Kos:
Recognized internationally – persecuted in Greece

 Panayote Dimitras

Spokesperson for Greek Helsinki Monitor
Member of the Executive Board of the European Humanist Federation (EHF)
Member of the General Assembly of the World Organization against Torture (OMCT)

 Paper presented at the
“International Symposium on the Turkish Identity in Rhodes and Kos”
Izmir 22-23 November 2018

kaymakci-ozgun-turkish-identity-in-rhodes-and-kos

Four years ago, I presented in this same conference here in Izmir, a paper on “Minority rights of Turks and other minorities in Greece.” Therein, I presented the problems of the Turkish minority in Rhodes and Kos in the framework of the problems faced by all ethnonational and ethnolinguistic minorities in Greece, whether Turkish or non-Turkish minorities.

Since then, Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) has been systematically advocating the rights of the Turkish minority in Rhodes and Kos before international organizations. At the United Nations, the problems of the Turkish minority in Rhodes and Kos were included in the comprehensive GHM and reports on Greece submitted in 2015-2016 ahead of Greece’s review by the UN Charter and Treaty Bodies. First, on 2 January 2015 in the report submitted to the Human Rights Committee (HRCttee). It was followed on 16 January by a report submitted to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR). Then, came the report submitted on 17 September 2015 to the Human Rights Council (HRC). Finally, the report submitted on 13 July 2016 to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), that was followed by an addendum on 28 July 2016 and then by an oral presentation before the full CERD Committee by GHM’s partner Minority Rights Group-Greece (MRG-G) on 3 August 2016. Additionally, the issue was raised orally and in a written form by GHM at the 2015 OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting on 1 October 2015. The short version of GHM and MRG-G presentations:

“Additionally, there is a completely ignored Turkish minority in Rhodes and Kos, whose size is estimated at 4-5,000 persons. “Most seem to think of themselves as Muslims and ethnic Turks, and also as members of a specific Muslim community.” The Muslims of Rhodes and Kos are denied the minority status of the Muslims of Thrace: Greek authorities claim that only the Muslims covered by the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) may be recognized as a minority.  An authoritative report on “The situation of the inhabitants of Rhodes and Kos with a Turkish cultural background” was published in 2011 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, followed by a 2012 PACE Resolution on “The situation of the Greek citizens of Turkish descent in Rhodes and Kos.” Greece should therefore be asked why the Muslims of Rhodes and Kos are not granted a special minority protection regime as the Muslims of Thrace; why both Muslim communities are denied the right to freely choose their religious leaders and administer their religious foundations; why religious leaders are not restricted to religious duties; what specific steps have been taken to implement the recommendations of PACE on the rights of Muslims of Rhodes and Kos, including the right to be offered classes in their mother Turkish language; and why Greece has not ratified the FCNM which it signed in 1997.”  

The efforts proved fruitful, as, for the first time in UN Treaty Bodies history, one UN Committee, namely CERD, included in the public oral examination of Greece, on 4 August 2018, questions on the Turkish minority of Rhodes and Kos. In the UN press summary it is stated that a CERD expert said: “Greece did not recognize minorities, and made only one exception based on the Lausanne Treaty, under which it recognized the Muslim minority of Thrace, but it did not recognize Muslims living in the islands, which seemed to be discriminatory;” and that Greece replied: “In some Greek islands there were Greek nationals of Islamic faith who enjoyed all the rights and protection under the law.”

As I was present in the review, after having previously lobbied the CERD members, I know that Greece explained that there is no question to recognize for “Greek Muslims” in Rhodes and Kos the rights recognized for “Greek Muslims” in Thrace, as the latter are included in an international treaty, while there is no such international obligation for “Greek Muslims” of Rhodes and Kos. GHM has subsequently commented that this position is an admission that “Greek Muslims” of Thrace would not have enjoyed any minority rights had it not been for the Treaty of Lausanne, as Greece has an aversion to recognize minorities and grant minority rights.

Greece failed to convince CERD which, in its concluding observations issued on 26 August 2016, made history asking Greece expressly to grant minority rights to the Turks of Rhodes and Kos:

Situation of minorities

  1. The Committee is concerned that Muslims living in Thrace region covered by the provisions of the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 and who belong to various ethnicities are recognized only as a religious minority by the State party. The Committee is also concerned that other Muslims including those living in the islands of Rhodes and Kos, and not covered by the Treaty of Lausanne, may be denied the right to self-identification and therefore cannot fully enjoy their rights under the Convention. As a result the effective enjoyment by persons belonging to ethnic minorities of their rights to preserve their language, culture and freedom of association is curtailed (arts. 1, 2 and 5).
  2. Notwithstanding the explanation provided by the State party that ethnic groups are not considered as minorities, the Committee believes that in a multi-ethnic society recognition of ethnic groups of smaller size may help them to protect their existence and their identity. The Committee also notes that the Treaty of Lausanne does not prohibit the consideration of other groups as minorities nor does it prevent persons belonging to various ethnic groups to exercise their right to self-identification. The Committee therefore recommends that the State party review its position and consider recognizing other groups that may qualify as being ethnic, or religious minorities, and encourages the State party to implement the relevant decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.

Greece was defeated and was so upset that it used the method of authoritarian states that is to retaliate against those responsible for their defeats. Given that GHM and MRG-G advocates are Greek citizens, the “vulnerable” target of the retaliation was the champion of minority rights for the Turkish minority in Rhodes and Kos Mustafa Kaymakçı. Whereas in the past he was visiting without any harassment the two islands,

“on August 30, 2016, the Greek police arrested Mr. Kaymakçı in a restaurant at Platani (Kermentes) in Kos (İstanköy). They took him to the police station where Mr. Kaymakçı was informed that official “national measure” of prohibition to enter Greece number P358265 had been issued against him by the Hellenic Police Headquarters/State Security Division/Department on Social Issues and Combatting Racism on July 18, 2016. Mr. Kaymakçı was however not notified of such a prohibition when he entered the country in Rhodes on August 27 with the aim to conduct a research for a new project of his organisation about geography, architecture and Turkish traditions in Rhodes and Kos. He was not provided a copy of such official document either at the moment of his arrest. Instead, he was provided with a document specifying that he could be detained up to six months renewable once for another twelve months, under Article 18(g) of Law 3907/2011 for “risk of absconding”, in case the individual refuses to be returned, expressly refuses to comply with the return decision, holds forged documents, provides false information to authorities, has criminal convictions or charges against him or is a suspect to have committed or to commit serious crimes, and in case of absence of travel documents, passed absconding and refusal to comply with existing entry ban. None of these cases applied though to Mr. Kaymakçı. The detention decision mentioned in the end the right to appeal before the administrative court. Mr. Kaymakçı was held in detention in the Kos police station for one night. On August 31 he was asked to sign a document in Greek, which he was told was a formal declaration that he was waving his right to use legal remedies and wished to be repatriated. He was not given a copy of that declaration. Instead, he was given Dodecanese Police Division decision number 6634/1/16/9267b for repatriation with detention and for inclusion of his name in the National List of Undesirable Persons for three years, in which there was a reference to the formal declaration. It was also mentioned that he would not be freed for reasons of public order and national security, without mentioning on which grounds,, and could be detained for six months plus an additional twelve months if necessary. Orally, he was told that they would detain him indefinitely if he did not sign the formal declaration. Afterwards, he was expelled to Bodrum (Alikarnasso) Turkey at 16h30 on August 31. Mr. Kaymakçı reported that he was detained at the Kos police station in an overcrowded room of 30 square meters with 20 other persons with only a small window, in conditions amounting to ill-treatment.”

As a result, the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), whose network GHM is a member of, on 26 October 2016 published an appeal for urgent intervention on “Acts of harassment against defenders working on the rights of minorities in Greece, including the arbitrary detention for a night and expulsion from Greece of Mr. Mustafa Kaymakçı” (from where the extensive quote above). Mr. Kaymakci’s inhuman and illegal expulsion was also included in OMCT’s more general appeal for urgent intervention on “Greece: Continuous acts of harassment against minority rights defenders” on 18 November 2016, as well as in OMCT’s submission on “35th Session of the UN Human Rights Council: Written submission on the situation of minority rights defenders in Greece” on 25 May 2017.

It is no longer possible to claim internationally that there is no Turkish minority in Rhodes and Kos that has the right to enjoy the same minority rights as the mostly Turkish minority in Thrace. It is no longer possible to claim that Greece is not hostile to any reference to that minority that it is not ready to persecute those who advocate for its rights, as Mr. Mustafa Kaymakçı’s harassment is a proof of the contrary.

However, for minority rights to be granted to the Turks of Rhodes and Kos they have to seek formally the implementation by Greece of the UN CERD recommendation in that direction. For Mr. Mustafa Kaymakçı to gain the right to visit his birthplace without harassment, he has to file appropriate complaints to competent Greek and international institutions. However, two years have passed since the events of 2016, that is the recognition of the Turkish minority of Rhodes and Kos by the UN and Greece’s retaliatory measure against Mr. Mustafa Kaymakçı, without any appropriate action taken. If there were a dj in the room, I would have asked him to put on the deck as a conclusion to my presentation Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up, stand up for your right.”


 

Η διεθνώς αναγνωρισμένη μακεδονική μειονότητα της Ελλάδας

Έκθεση της Ανεξάρτητης Εμπειρογνώμονα για Μειονοτικά Θέματα στον ΟΗΕ Gay McDougall

[σε μετάφραση ΕΠΣΕ απόσπασμα από την περίληψη:]

18 Φεβρουαρίου 2009

«Η Ανεξάρτητη Εμπειρογνώμονας καλεί επειγόντως την Κυβέρνηση της Ελλάδας να αποσυρθεί από τη διαμάχη αν υπάρχει μακεδονική ή τουρκική μειονότητα στην Ελλάδα και να εστιασθεί στην προστασία των δικαιωμάτων του αυτοπροσδιορισμού, της ελευθερίας της έκφρασης και της ελευθερία του συνεταιρίζεσθαι αυτών των κοινοτήτων. Τα δικαιώματά τους σε μειονοτική προστασία πρέπει να γίνουν σεβαστά σύμφωνα με τη Διακήρυξη για τις Μειονότητες και τις βασικές διεθνείς συνθήκες ανθρώπινων δικαιωμάτων. Η Ελλάδα πρέπει να συμμορφωθεί πλήρως με τις αποφάσεις του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων, ειδικότερα με εκείνες τις αποφάσεις ότι πρέπει να επιτραπεί σε συλλόγους να χρησιμοποιήσουν τις λέξεις «μακεδονικός» και «τουρκικός» στα ονόματά τους και να εκφράζουν ελεύθερα τις εθνοτικές ταυτότητές τους.»



Καταληκτικές παρατηρήσεις της Επιτροπής του ΟΗΕ 
για την Εξάλειψη των Φυλετικών Διακρίσεων: Ελλάδα

[μετάφραση του ΕΠΣΕ στα ελληνικά από το αγγλικό πρωτότυπο]

28 Αυγούστου 2009

(…) 15. Η Επιτροπή ανησυχεί για τα εμπόδια που αντιμετωπίζουν ορισμένες εθνοτικές ομάδες ως προς την άσκηση της ελευθερίας του συνεταιρίζεσθαι και σχετικά με αυτό το θέμα σημειώνει τις πληροφορίες για την αναγκαστική διάλυση και άρνηση εγγραφής μερικών συλλόγων που περιλαμβάνουν στον τίτλο τους λέξεις όπως «μειονότητα», «τουρκικός/ή» ή «μακεδονικός/ή», καθώς και την εξήγηση μιας τέτοιας απόρριψης.

Η Επιτροπή απευθύνει σύσταση στο Κράτος μέλος να θεσπίσει μέτρα για τη διασφάλιση της αποτελεσματικής απόλαυσης από πρόσωπα που ανήκουν σε κάθε κοινότητα ή ομάδα, του δικαιώματος στην ελευθερία του συνεταιρίζεσθαι καθώς και στα πολιτισμικά τους δικαιώματα, συμπεριλαμβανομένου του δικαιώματος χρήσης των μητρικών γλωσσών.



Ιστότοπος του Νομικού Συμβουλίου του Κράτους – επίσημη μετάφραση της απόφασης του ΕΔΔΑ στην υπόθεση «Ουράνιο Τόξο κατά Ελλάδας»

20 Οκτωβρίου 2005

«Το Δικαστήριο διαπιστώνει ότι το κόμμα Ουράνιο Τόξο είναι κόμμα που έχει συσταθεί νόμιμα και ένας από τους σκοπούς του είναι η υπεράσπιση της μακεδονικής μειονότητας που κατοικεί στην Ελλάδα. Το γεγονός της ανάρτησης στην πρόσοψη της έδρας του μιας επιγραφής με το όνομα του κόμματος στην μακεδονική γλώσσα δεν θα μπορούσε να θεωρηθεί αξιόποινη πράξη ούτε να αποτελέσει αφ’ εαυτής υπαρκτό και επικείμενο κίνδυνο για την δημόσια τάξη.»



Ιστότοπος του Νομικού Συμβουλίου του Κράτους – επίσημη μετάφραση της απόφασης του ΕΔΔΑ στην υπόθεση “Στέγη Μακεδονικού Πολιτισμού κατά Ελλάδας”

9 Ιουλίου 2015

“Το Δικαστήριο επισημαίνει ότι οι σκοποί του προσφεύγοντος σωματείου, που αναφέρονται, γενικά, στο καταστατικό του, δύσκολα μπορούσαν από μόνοι τους να επιφέρουν παραβίαση της δημόσιας τάξης. Συναφώς σκόπιμο είναι να υπομνησθεί ότι στην προαναφερθείσα απόφασή του Σιδηρόπουλος και λοιποί το Δικαστήριο έκρινε ήδη ότι «ακόμα και αν υποτεθεί ότι οι ιδρυτές σωματείου, όπως αυτό της υπό κρίση υπόθεσης, επικαλούνται μειονοτική συνείδηση, το Έγγραφο της Διάσκεψης της Κοπεγχάγης για την ανθρώπινη διάσταση της ΔΑΣΕ (Κεφάλαιο IV) της 29ης Ιουνίου 1990 και ο Χάρτης του Παρισιού για μια Νέα Ευρώπη της 21ης Νοεμβρίου 1990 – που η Ελλάδα επιπλέον υπέγραψε – τους επιτρέπουν να ιδρύουν σωματεία για να προστατεύσουν την πολιτιστική και πνευματική τους κληρονομιά» (προαναφερθείσα Σιδηρόπουλος και λοιποί, , § 44)…. Κατόπιν των ανωτέρω, το Δικαστήριο συμπεραίνει ότι η άρνηση εγγραφής του επίμαχου σωματείου ήταν δυσανάλογη προς τους νόμιμους σκοπούς που έκαναν δεκτούς τα εθνικά δικαστήρια. Επομένως, υπήρξε παραβίαση του άρθρου 11 της Σύμβασης.”



Ευρωπαϊκή Επιτροπή κατά του Ρατσισμού και της Μισαλλοδοξίας- ECRI


ΕΚΘΕΣΗ ΤΗΣ ECRI ΓΙΑ ΤΗΝ ΕΛΛΑΔΑ
(τέταρτος κύκλος επιτήρησης)

15 Σεπτεμβρίου 2009

Μακεδόνες και άλλες μειονοτικές ομάδες

  1. Στην τρίτη της έκθεση, η ECRI ενθάρρυνε τις ελληνικές αρχές να λάβουν περαιτέρω μέτρα προς την κατεύθυνση της αναγνώρισης της ελευθερίας του συνεταιρίζεσθαι και της ελευθερίας της έκφρασης των μελών των Μακεδονικών και Τουρκικών κοινοτήτων που ζουν στην Ελλάδα. Χαιρέτισε την χειρονομία συμφιλίωσης στην οποία προέβησαν οι Ελληνικές αρχές προς τους Μακεδονικής εθνικής ταυτότητας πρόσφυγες από τον εμφύλιο πόλεμο, ενώ τις ενθάρρυνε έντονα να πραγματοποιήσουν μεγαλύτερη πρόοδο στην κατεύθυνση αυτή με τρόπο που δεν θα προβαίνει σε διακρίσεις. Η ECRI επίσης συνέστησε στις ελληνικές αρχές να εξετάσουν προσεχτικά τους ισχυρισμούς για διακρίσεις και πράξεις μισαλλοδοξίας κατά των Μακεδόνων, Τούρκων και άλλων, και να λάβουν μέτρα για την δέουσα τιμωρία τέτοιων ενεργειών.
  1. Η κατάσταση της αναγνώρισης του δικαιώματος της ελευθερίας του συνεταιρίζεσθαι αναφορικά με κάποιες ομάδες που ζουν στην Ελλάδα (Μακεδόνες και Τούρκους ) παραμένει.  Για το σκοπό αυτό, από την τρίτη έκθεση της ECRI, το Ευρωπαϊκό Δικαστήριο Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων εξέδωσε τρεις αποφάσεις κατά της Ελλάδας για παραβίαση του Άρθρου 11 της Ευρωπαϊκής Σύμβασης Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων (ελευθερία του συνέρχεσθαι και του συνεταιρίζεσθαι) αναφορικά με μέλη της κοινότητας ατόμων εθνοτικής τουρκικής καταγωγής.  Αναφορικά με τα άτομα Μακεδονικής εθνικής ταυτότητας και την απόφαση της υπόθεσης Σιδηρόπουλος και λοιποί κατά Ελλάδος  που αναφέρθηκε στην τρίτη της έκθεση, η ECRI ενημερώθηκε ότι το ζήτημα της αναγνώρισης του εν λόγω σωματίου (Στέγη Μακεδονικού Πολιτισμού) εκκρεμεί ενώπιον του Ανώτατου Δικαστηρίου καθώς δεν έχει ακόμη αναγνωριστεί.  Φαίνεται ακόμη ότι ούτε τα σωματεία εθνοτικής τουρκικής καταγωγής, που αποτελούσαν το θέμα των παραπάνω αποφάσεων, έχουν αναγνωριστεί ακόμη.  Η ECRI επιθυμεί για το σκοπό αυτό να επιστήσει την προσοχή των ελληνικών αρχών τη διαπίστωση του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων ότι οι σύλλογοι που αναζητούν εθνική ταυτότητα ήταν επίσης σημαντικοί για τη σωστή λειτουργία της δημοκρατίας. Θεωρείται ότι ο πλουραλισμός βασίστηκε επίσης στη γνήσια αναγνώριση και το σεβασμό για τη διαφορετικότητα και τις δυναμικές των πολιτιστικών παραδόσεων, των εθνοτικών και πολιτισμικών ταυτοτήτων και των θρησκευτικών πεποιθήσεων.
  1. Η ECRI σημειώνει ότι θα πρέπει να υπάρξει ακόμη πρόοδος για την αναγνώριση του δικαιώματος των μελών των μειονοτικών ομάδων για ελευθερία του συνεταιρίζεσθαι και επίσης για την ελευθερία της έκφρασης.
  1. Οι παράγοντες της κοινωνίας των πολιτών και οι αντιπρόσωποι της μακεδονικής κοινότητας έχουν υποδείξει στην ECRI ότι η εφαρμογή συμβιβαστικών μέτρων που ελήφθησαν για εκείνους που διέφυγαν στον ελληνικό εμφύλιο πόλεμο αναφορικά με την αποκατάσταση της ιθαγένειάς τους και την επιστροφή της περιουσίας τους που είχε κατασχεθεί, εξακολουθεί να ισχύει μόνο για τους αυτόχθονες Έλληνες.  Αντιπρόσωποι της Μακεδονικής κοινότητας έχουν εκφράσει ακόμη τα αισθήματα διάκρισης, μεταξύ άλλων, αναφορικά με τη χρήση των ονομάτων τους στη δική τους γλώσσα και την αδυναμία να παραπεμφθούν στο δικαστήριο υποθέσεις ομιλιών μίσους στα μέσα ενημέρωσης κατά των Μακεδόνων . Αντιπρόσωποι της τουρκικής κοινότητας της δυτικής Θράκης έχουν επίσης δηλώσει ότι η αναγνώριση της ταυτότητάς τους είναι ανάμεσα στα πιο σημαντικά προβλήματα που αντιμετωπίζουν μαζί με την παιδεία και το δικαίωμα για θρησκευτική ελευθερία, ποτ έχουν συζητηθεί σε άλλα σημεία αυτής της έκθεσης .
  1. Η ECRI συνιστά έντονα στις ελληνικές αρχές να λάβουν μέτρα για την αναγνώριση των δικαιωμάτων των μελών διαφορετικών ομάδων που ζουν στην Ελλάδα, περιλαμβανομένης και της ελευθερίας του συνεταιρίζεσθαι, σε πλήρη συμμόρφωση με τις σχετικές αποφάσεις του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων.
  1. Η ECRI συνιστά ξανά στις ελληνικές αρχές να κάνουν ενέργειες για την εφαρμογή, με τρόπο που δεν θα προωθεί τις διακρίσεις, των συμβιβαστικών μέτρων που λαμβάνονται για όλους εκείνους που διέφυγαν στον εμφύλιο πόλεμο.
  2. Η ECRI συνιστά στις ελληνικές αρχές να ερευνήσουν τους ισχυρισμούς για διακρίσεις κατά μελών της μακεδονικής και της τουρκικής κοινότητας και να λάβουν τα κατάλληλα μέτρα για να τις αντιμετωπίσουν, περιλαμβανομένης και της διασφάλισης της εφαρμογής της σχετικής νομοθεσίας όπου είναι απαραίτητο. Η ECRI συνιστά επίσης έντονα στις ελληνικές αρχές να κάνουν ενέργειες για την αναγνώριση του δικαιώματος του αυτοπροσδιορισμού των ομάδων αυτών.
  1. Στην τρίτη της έκθεση, η ECRI συνέστησε έντονα στις ελληνικές αρχές να ανοίξουν διάλογο με τους εκπροσώπους των Μακεδόνων, προκειμένου να εξευρεθεί λύση στις εντάσεις που σημειώνονται μεταξύ αυτής της ομάδας και των αρχών, καθώς και μεταξύ της ομάδας και του γενικότερου πληθυσμού, ώστε να μπορέσει να επιτευχθεί η συνύπαρξη με αμοιβαίο σεβασμό προς το συμφέρον όλων.
  2. Αντιπρόσωποι της μακεδονικής κοινότητας έχουν αναφέρει ότι οι προσπάθειές τους για συμμετοχή σε διάλογο με τις ελληνικές αρχές, για ζητήματα όπως η γλώσσα και η χρήση της μακεδονικής γλώσσας στην τηλεόραση δεν έχουν αποδώσει. Η ECRI ελπίζει έτσι ότι οι αρχές θα συμμετέχουν σε έναν ανοιχτό και εποικοδομητικό διάλογο με τους αντιπροσώπους της μακεδονικής κοινότητας για ζητήματα που απασχολούν τα μέλη αυτής της ομάδας.
  3. Η ECRI συνιστά ξανά στις ελληνικές αρχές να ορίσουν ένα διάλογο με τους αντιπροσώπους των Μακεδόνων για να βρεθεί μια λύση στα ζητήματα που επηρεάζουν τα μέλη αυτής της ομάδας.

 

Διεθνείς δίκες ΕΠΣΕ για βασανιστήρια σε σεμινάριο Αρείου Πάγου – Συμβουλίου Ευρώπης για συμμόρφωση Ελλάδας με νομολογία ΕΔΔΑ

εισαπ - coe logos

Στις 10 και 11 Ιανουαρίου 2019, η Εισαγγελία του Αρείου Πάγου και το Συμβούλιο της Ευρώπης συνοργάνωσαν ένα στρογγυλό τραπέζι με θέμα “Αστυνόμευση: ρόλοι και ευθύνες εθνικών παραγόντων σε σχέση με την (κακο-)μεταχείριση συλληφθέντων στην Ελλάδα”. Αντικείμενο “η διασφάλιση της συμμόρφωσης του ελληνικού νομικού συστήματος προς το γράμμα και το πνεύμα της νομοθεσίας σχετικά με τα βασανιστήρια και τη σχετική κακομεταχείριση.” Συμμετείχαν εισαγγελείς και δικαστές, αστυνομικοί, λιμενικοί, πανεπιστημιακοί, δικηγόροι, κυβερνητικοί παράγοντες.

Η συζήτηση έγινε στη βάση Υπομνήματος που “εκπονήθηκε από τη δρα Νατάσα Μαυρονικόλα, Επίκουρη Καθηγήτρια Νομικής στη Νομική Σχολή του Πανεπιστημίου του Birmingham“. Σημαντική θέση στο υπόμνημα έχει το έργο του Ελληνικού Παρατηρητηρίου των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ).

Στο υπόμνημα επίσης αναφέρονται κατ’ επανάληψη οι οκτώ από τις εννέα καταδικαστικές αποφάσεις του Ευρωπαϊκού Δικαστηρίου Δικαιωμάτων του Ανθρώπου (ΕΔΔΑ) κατά της Ελλάδας για αστυνομική βία, μετά από προσφυγές του ΕΠΣΕ:

  1. Μπέκος και Κουτρόπουλος κατά Ελλάδας προσφυγή αριθ. 15250/02 (ΕΔΔΑ, 13 Δεκεμβρίου 2005)
  2. Ζελίλωφ κατά Ελλάδας προσφυγή αριθ. 17060/03 (ΕΔΔΑ, 24 Μαΐου 2007)
  3. Καραγιαννόπουλος κατά Ελλάδας προσφυγή αριθ. 27850/03 (ΕΔΔΑ, 21 Ιουνίου 2007)
  4. Celniku κατά Ελλάδας προσφυγή αριθ. 21449/04 (ΕΔΔΑ, 5 Ιουλίου 2007)
  5. Πετροπούλου-Τσακίρη κατά Ελλάδας προσφυγή αριθ. 44803/04 (ΕΔΔΑ, 6 Δεκεμβρίου 2007)
  6. Π.Γ[Γκαλότσκιν] κατά Ελλάδας προσφυγή αριθ. 2945/07 (ΕΔΔΑ, 14 Ιανουαρίου 2010)
  7. Στεφάνου κατά Ελλάδας προσφυγή αριθ. 2954/07 (ΕΔΔΑ, 22 Απριλίου 2010)
  8. Σιδηρόπουλος και Παπακώστας κατά Ελλάδας προσφυγή αριθ. 33349/10 (ΕΔΔΑ, 25 Ιανουαρίου 2018),

[δεν υπάρχει αναφορά μόνο στη Λεωνίδης κατά Ελλάδας προσφυγή αριθ. 43326/05 (ΕΔΔΑ, 8 Ιανουαρίου 2009)]

Στο υπόμνημα αναφέρονται τέλος κατ’ επανάληψη οι δύο καταδικαστικές αποφάσεις της Επιτροπής Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων του ΟΗΕ κατά της Ελλάδας για αστυνομική βία, μετά από προσφυγές του ΕΠΣΕ:

  1. Καλαμιώτης κατά Ελλάδας, CCPR/C/93/D/1486/2006 (Επιτροπή Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων, 5 Αυγούστου 2008),
  2. Κατσαρής κατά Ελλάδας, CCPR/C/105/D/1558/2007 (Επιτροπή Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων, 30 Αυγούστου 2012)

Δεσποτοπούλου: ξανά ένοχη για δυσφήμηση ΕΠΣΕ – Κακλαμάνης: εκδίκαση έφεσης κατά καταδίκης για συκοφάντηση ΕΠΣΕ

despotopoulou-kaklamanis

Σήμερα δύο διαφορετικά δικαστήρια εξέτασαν την υπόθεση συκοφάντησης-δυσφήμησης-εξύβρισης του Ελληνικού Παρατηρητηρίου των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ) σε συνέντευξη τύπου της 19 Απριλίου 2005 από τους τότε Υπουργό Υγείας Νικήτα Κακλαμάνη (σήμερα Αντιπρόεδρο της Βουλής) και Γενική Γραμματέα Κοινωνικής Αλληλεγγύης Ιωάννα Δεσποτοπούλου.

Η αρχική συκοφαντική δυσφήμηση του ΕΠΣΕ από Νικήτα Κακλαμάνη και Ιωάννα Δεσποτοπούλου

Την ημέρα εκείνη, όπως κατέγραψαν πολλές εφημερίδες την επόμενη, με πληρέστερη κάλυψη από το Βασίλη Βενιζέλο στο ακόλουθο δημοσίευμα στην Αυγή, το Ελληνικό Παρατηρητήριο των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ) κατηγορήθηκε από τους δύο κυβερνητικούς παράγοντες πως παραπλανά τους διεθνείς οργανισμούς με ψευδή υπερβολικά στοιχεία για τα θύματα εμπορίας ανθρώπων προκειμένου να εισπράττει επιχορηγήσεις εκβιάζοντας το Υπουργείο Εξωτερικών και πως είναι μη κυβερνητική οργάνωση-σφραγίδα.

avgi 20-4-2005

Ανάλογους συκοφαντικούς ισχυρισμούς επανέλαβε η Ιωάννα Δεσποτοπούλου κατά του επόμενους μήνες σε δημόσιες εκδηλώσεις.

Η πρώτη μήνυση κατά Νικήτα Κακλαμάνη και Ιωάννας Δεσποτοπούλου που κρίθηκε ένοχη

Κατόπιν αυτού το ΕΠΣΕ μήνυσε για συκοφαντική δυσφήμηση τους δύο κυβερνητικούς παράγοντες. Η Βουλή δεν έδωσε άδεια να δικαστεί ο Νικήτας Κακλαμάνης. Αντίθετα, η  Ιωάννα Δεσποτοπούλου, στις 21 Μαρτίου 2012 κρίθηκε ένοχη για εξύβριση από το Α’ Τριμελές Πλημμελειοδικείο Αθηνών (Πρόεδρος Μαρία-Γεωργία Τσάμη, Μέλη Αλεξάνδρα Νόκα και Άννα Χριστοδούλου – Εισαγγελέας Ελένη Ράιου που είχε προτείνει την αθώωσή της λόγω αμφιβολιών), αλλά λόγω του ότι το αδίκημα είχε παραγραφεί υφ’ όρων με το Ν. 4043/2012 δεν της επιβλήθηκε ποινή.

Η δεύτερη συκοφαντική δυσφήμηση του ΕΠΣΕ από Ιωάννα Δεσποτοπούλου

Η Ιωάννα Δεσποτοπούλου όμως επανέλαβε τους συκοφαντικούς ισχυρισμούς της δύο μήνες αργότερα, στις 24 Μαΐου 2012 σε προτάσεις της σε πολιτικό δικαστήριο που δίκαζε αγωγή του ΕΠΣΕ εναντίον της, διανθίζοντάς τους και με νέους, πως το ΕΠΣΕ ισχυριζόταν δήθεν πως τα θύματα εμπορίας ανθρώπων στην Ελλάδα ήταν 20.000 (εκτίμηση του Καθηγητή του Παντείου Πανεπιστημίου Γρηγόρη Λάζου αλλά όχι του ΕΠΣΕ που τα εκτιμούσε περίπου στα 300) και όχι 13 όπως ισχυριζόταν η ίδια, και πως παραπλανούσε τους διεθνείς οργανισμούς και με ψευδείς ισχυρισμούς περί ύπαρξης μακεδονικής μειονότητας και τουρκικής μειονότητας στην Ελλάδα. Η αγωγή εκείνη απορρίφθηκε αφού το δικαστήριο δέχθηκε τους ισχυρισμούς της και εκκρεμεί η κατ’ έφεση εκδίκασή της.

Η δεύτερη μήνυση κατά Ιωάννας Δεσποτοπούλου που πάλι κρίθηκε ένοχη

Σήμερα, το Θ’ Μονομελές Πλημμελειοδικείο Αθηνών (Πρόεδρος Ευγενία Τζωρτζάτου) εξέτασε νέα μήνυση του ΕΠΣΕ για όλα αυτά που υπήρχαν στις προτάσεις εκέινες και έκρινε την κατηγορούμενη ένοχη για απλή δυσφήμηση αλλά λόγω του ότι το αδίκημα είχε παραγραφεί υφ’ όρων με το Ν. 4411/2016 δεν της επιβλήθηκε ποινή.

Δύο φορές, λοιπόν, το 2012 και το 2018, το τότε κυβερνητικό στέλεχος Ιωάννα Δεσποτοπούλου βρέθηκε ένοχο για εξύβριση ή  δυσφήμηση του ΕΠΣΕ.

Είναι αξιοσημείωτο πως ο Εισαγγελέας Ιωάννης Τριανταφυλλόπουλος έκρινε πως δεν υπήρχε αδίκημα γιατί ορθώς η Ιωάννα Δεσποτοπούλου απέδιδε στο ΕΠΣΕ τα στοιχεία του Γρηγόρη Λάζου για τον αριθμό των θυμάτων εμπορίας ανθρώπων αφού αυτός είναι μέλος του ΕΠΣΕ (όπερ ψευδέστατο, αφού άλλωστε κανένας δεν το ανέφερε στη διαδικασία)  και πως καλώς η Ιωάννα Δεσποτοπούλου αποκάλεσε ψεύδη τα περί μειονοτήτων αφού αυτές δεν υπάρχουν (και ας διαβάστηκαν οι σχετικές συστάσεις ΟΗΕ και Συμβουλίου της Ευρώπης και η απόφαση του ΕΔΔΑ για τη Στέγη Μακεδονικού Πολιτισμού)!

Είναι επίσης αξιοσημείωτο πως ο ένας από του δύο δικηγόρους υπεράσπισης της Ιωάννας Δεσποτοπούλου ήταν ο Κώστας Πλεύρης που δεν κάθισε μέχρι το τέλος και δεν αγόρευσε ενώ ο άλλο δικηγόρος της που κάθισε μέχρι το τέλος επίσης δεν αγόρευσε συντασσόμενος πλήρως με την τοποθέτηση και πρόταση του εισαγγελέα!

Η καταδίκη Νικήτα Κακλαμάνη και η εκδίκαση της έφεσής του

Μετά το τέλος της δίκης αυτής, στο Μονομελές Εφετείο Αθηνών εξετάσθηκε η έφεση του Νικήτα Κακλαμάνη που είχε καταδικασθεί ερήμην από το Μονομελές Πρωτοδικείο Αθηνών στις 4 Μαρτίου 2013 να καταβάλει αποζημίωση 40000 ευρώ στο ΕΠΣΕ και 40000 ευρώ στον Εκπρόσωπό του ΕΠΣΕ Παναγιώτη Δημητρά για τη συκοφαντική δυσφήμησή τους στις 19 Απριλίου 2005. Ο Νικήτας Κακλαμάνης κατέθεσε ο ίδιος για να δηλώσει πως οι φερόμενες από το δημοσίευμα της Αυγής (και άλλων εφημερίδων) δηλώσεις του περί ΜΚΟ-σφραγίδας δεν κατονόμαζαν το ΕΠΣΕ ενώ δεν αναφέρεται πουθενά τεκμηριωμένα η συμφωνία του με τις θέσεις της Ιωάννας Δεσποτοπούλου από τις οποίες προσπάθησε να αποστασιοποιηθεί. Επειδή δε σε σχετική ερώτηση ανέφερε πως οι συνεντεύξεις τύπου απομαγνητοφωνούνται, η Πρόεδρος ζήτησε από τη γραμματέα να ζητηθεί η απομαγνητοφώνηση από το Υπουργείο Υγείας. Η απόφαση θα εκδοθεί προσεχώς.

Ευχαριστίες στη δικηγόρο Ειρήνη Νομικού

Το ΕΠΣΕ θεωρεί υποχρέωσή του να ευχαριστήσει τη δικηγόρο Ειρήνη Νομικού που χειρίσθηκε σήμερα με εξαιρετικό τρόπο την πολιτική αγωγή κατά της Ιωάννας Δεσποτοπούλου στην πρώτη δίκη και την αντίκρουση της έφεσης του Νικήτα Κακλαμάνη στη δεύτερη δίκη. Απαραίτητο να υπενθυμισθεί πως τις αρχικές δίκες είχε χειρισθεί ο αξέχαστος Χρήστος Γραμματίδης (τη μία με το Βασίλη Σωτηρόπουλο).