131 organisations set out proposed criteria for selection and appointment of the next UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders


ISHR and 130 partners around the world have published a checklist for the selection and appointment of a UN expert on human rights defenders. Candidates have until 17 October 2019 to apply for the position.


The current Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders shaking hands with the UN Secretary General

ISHR and 130 other organisations have set out the criteria that should be at the heart of the selection of the next UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. As Michel Forst’s term as mandate holder comes to an end, candidates have until 17 October 2019 to submit their applications for the position. Defenders from marginalised groups or from under-represented communities and identities are strongly encouraged to apply.

If your organisation would like to endorse the criteria, please sign on here.

ISHR’s Programme Manager Helen Nolan explains that the Special Rapporteur plays a key role in the recognition and protection of those who promote and defend human rights.

‘Human rights defenders often face serious challenges and risks as a result of their human rights work, and so the mandate seeks to promote a safe and enabling environment for them around the world,’ says Nolan. As the document highlights, the mandate does this work in many ways.

‘With the power to report and advise countries on how to make the right to defend rights a reality, mandate holders have helped bring about real change on the ground,’ says Nolan. For example, Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders have:

  • visited dozens of countries in all regions to examine the situation of human rights defenders on the ground and make recommendations to strengthen their protection;
  • investigated the situation and protection needs of groups of defenders particularly at risk, most recently looking at women human rights defenders, environmental defenders, and people on the move; and
  • raised thousands of cases of alleged human rights violations against human rights defenders around the globe.

‘131 organisations working nationally, regionally and internationally have come together to set out the skills and expertise that should be taken into account in the appointment of the next expert in March 2020,’ explains Nolan. These fit under 4 priorities:

  • qualifications and skills;
  • relevant expertise
  • established competence;
  • and flexibility/ readiness and availability

The document also provides information on the application process, and underlines the importance of independence and impartiality, as well as experience or knowledge of the realities faced by human rights defenders.

‘Human rights defenders who are most at risk around the world are often persons with discriminated identities or from communities that are marginalised, so the Special Rapporteur should be able to consider the particular contexts and challenges faced by these individuals and groups with the benefit of insights from the mandate holder’s personal experience,’ emphasises Nolan.

‘We all strongly encourage nominations of such human rights defenders, including women and gender diverse persons,’ adds Nolan.

The checklist is available here.


 9 September 2019


This document is part of a series of criteria developed for vacant positions of Special Procedures mandate holders, and is endorsed by 131 organisations working internationally (41), regionally (12) and nationally (78) (full list below). Its intention is to support all stakeholders in the identification of and outreach to highly qualified and independent candidates for the mandate of Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, to be appointed by the Human Rights Council in March 2020.

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders plays a key role in the recognition and protection of those who promote and defend human rights. These individuals, organisations and groups often face serious challenges and risks as a result of their human rights work, and the mandate seeks to promote the creation of a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders around the world. It does this in many ways, such as by promoting the Declaration on human rights defenders; studying trends, developments and challenges faced by human rights defenders, including those with specific protection needs; recommending concrete and effective strategies to increase protection; and seeking, receiving and examining information on individual cases. The mandate engages with a wide variety of stakeholders, collaborating particularly closely with States and human rights defenders themselves.

For example, Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders have visited dozens of countries in all regions to examine the situation of human rights defenders on the ground and make recommendations to strengthen their protection; investigated the situation and protection needs of groups of defenders particularly at risk, most recently looking at women human rights defenders, environmental defenders, and people on the move; examined thematic issues in depth, such as the elements necessary to create a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders; and raised thousands of cases of alleged human rights violations against human rights defenders around the globe.

The appointment of independent, impartial, competent and expert persons from all regions of the world as mandate holders is essential to ensuring a well-functioning system of Special Procedures, which, in turn, is of crucial importance to the functioning of the Human Rights Council. The selection and appointment of mandate holders, through a transparent and merit based process, on the basis of relevant expertise for the mandate in question, real and perceived independence, impartiality, personal integrity and objectivity are of crucial importance for the effective functioning of the mandates. This document provides information on the application process for candidates for the position of Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, formal criteria for selection of a mandate holder, and a checklist of criteria intended as an interpretive aid for those criteria.

States may use the document to strengthen national consultations processes for the identification of suitable candidates. It is also intended as a checklist that can be used by the Human Rights Council’s Consultative Group and the President of the Council to ensure that only highly qualified and independent candidates are considered and appointed.

The signatory organisations call on Governments, NGOs and others, including relevant professional networks, to use this checklist of criteria to identify eligible candidates for the upcoming vacancy for the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. We urge Governments to consult civil society and human rights defenders in their countries, and to disseminate the vacancy widely so as to encourage candidates to apply for this vacancy.

In particular, we encourage nominations of human rights defenders from marginalised groups or from communities and identities that are under-represented among Special Procedures mandate holders, including women and gender diverse persons.


The Human Rights Council will appoint a new Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in March 2020, following the end of the second term of Michel Forst. The new mandate holder will serve a term of three years, which can be renewed once, and the following stakeholders may nominate candidates:

  • Governments;
  • Regional Groups;
  • International organisations (e.g. the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR));
  • Non-governmental organisations (NGOs);
  • National human rights institutions (NHRIs) in compliance with Paris Principles;
  • Other human rights bodies;
  • Individuals.

All candidates must submit an application through the OHCHR online application system, together with personal data, curriculum vitae and a motivation letter. OHCHR will prepare a public list of candidates who applied for each vacancy.

The Council’s Consultative Group (currently composed of the Ambassadors of the Permanent Missions to the UN of Djibouti, Ecuador, Iraq, Italy and the Republic of Moldova), will prepare a shortlist of candidates to be interviewed. Following the interviews, the Consultative Group will send a letter to the President of the Human Rights Council setting out their top three candidates in order of preference.

At the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council, the President will communicate the candidate the President has selected, bearing in mind the overall geographic and gender balance among all Special Procedures mandate holders. At the end of that Council session, the Council will endorse the President’s selected candidate.

Prospective mandate holders should be aware that this is a voluntary, unpaid role. They would not receive salary or other financial compensation, except for travel expenses and daily subsistence allowance of ‘experts on mission’. It will require a substantial time commitment from the individual, including readiness to travel and respond to urgent situations, as explained in the checklist below.

Details and formalities about the nomination, selection and appointment of mandate holders are explained on the OHCHR website here. Applications have to be submitted through an online system, which is available here, with a deadline of 17 October 2019 (12 NOON GREENWICH MEAN TIME / GMT)



Human Rights Council resolution 5/1 sets out the formal criteria that are of ‘paramount importance while nominating, selecting and appointing mandate-holders:

  1. expertise;
  2. experience in the field of the mandate;
  3. independence;
  4. impartiality;
  5. personal integrity; and
  6. objectivity.’

Resolution 5/1 provides that to be independent ‘individuals holding decision-making positions in Government or in any other organisation or entity which may give rise to a conflict of interest with the responsibilities inherent to the mandate shall be excluded.’ The conflict of interest provision has also been interpreted to mean that candidates are expected to clarify how, if appointed, they would deal with any perceived or actual conflict of interest in relation to governments, inter-governmental organisations, or non-governmental organisations. We encourage that a rigorous application of both the letter and the spirit of this provision be applied by the Consultative Group when selecting and proposing candidates. In particular, we consider that there should be a minimum of a two-year period between when an individual leaves a position in Government and when they may be considered as a candidate for the position of a mandate holder.

Human Rights Council decision 6/102 establishes four technical and objective requirements to be considered in the selection of Special Procedures mandate-holders:

  1. qualifications,
  2. relevant expertise,
  3. established competence and
  4. flexibility/readiness and availability of time.

Due consideration should be given to gender balance and equitable geographic representation, and to an appropriate representation of different legal systems. The selected candidate should be a highly-qualified individual who possess established competence, relevant expertise and extensive professional experience in the field of human rights (paras. 39-41).

We consider it paramount that this selection process give continued consideration to diversity, of all kinds. Human rights defenders who are most at risk around the world are often persons with discriminated identities or from communities that are marginalised. Consequently, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders should be able to consider the particular contexts and challenges faced by these individuals and groups with the benefit of insights from the mandate holder’s personal experience. We encourage that the Consultative Group give special consideration to candidates from communities or identities that are underrepresented among special procedures mandate holders.

The attached checklist is intended as an interpretive aid for those requirements.



1. Qualifications (and skills): relevant educational qualifications and equivalent professional experience in the field of human rights.


  • Demonstrated experience addressing issues relevant to the mandate, from a human rights perspective (for example through lived experience and practice, academic publications, studies, reports, research papers or any similar written material demonstrating in-depth knowledge);
  • Extensive experience in public speaking (for example in expert seminars) as well as in communicating and/or working together with relevant stakeholders, including senior government officials, the diplomatic corps, intergovernmental organisations, national human rights institutions, NGOs, human rights defenders and victims of human rights violations, businesses, media and other non-state actors;
  • A university degree, or equivalent in experience, in a discipline directly related to the mandate, preferably with a focus on international human rights law, would be highly desirable;
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in at least one of the UN working languages (English, French and Spanish – knowledge of other widely-used or official UN languages, such as Arabic, Chinese or Russian, would also be an asset);

2. Relevant expertise: knowledge of international human rights instruments, norms, standards and principles; as well as knowledge of institutional mandates related to the United Nations or other international or regional organisations’ work in the area of human rights; proven work experience in the field of human rights.



  • Extensive knowledge of international human rights law and standards, including through the lens of non-discrimination and equality, and their application for the promotion and protection for human rights defenders and their work;
  • Several years of progressively responsible work experience in the field of human rights or as a human rights defender, including in human rights research, monitoring, reporting, investigating and advocacy;
  • Excellent knowledge of the international and regional legal frameworks, including case law relevant to the promotion and protection of the rights of human rights defenders, including on the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, torture and other ill-treatment, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and enforced or involuntary disappearances;
  • Practical experience in promoting and protecting the rights of human rights defenders, including through a gender perspective;
  • Excellent knowledge of institutional mandates of the United Nations and/or other international or regional human rights bodies.

3. Established competence: nationally, regionally or internationally recognised competence related to human rights.


  • A demonstrated commitment to human rights law and standards;
  • Excellent knowledge and expertise of the work of human rights defenders, and of responding to recent trends, developments and challenges human rights defenders face;
  • Recognized knowledge and experience of human rights-based academic and field research and/or fact-finding methodology, including carrying out fact-finding visits;
  • Experience in applying international human rights standards, such as the Declaration on human rights defenders, in particular with a view to furthering the recognition and protection of human rights defenders and their work;
  • Experience at national, regional and/or international level in developing legislation, policies and mechanisms for the protection of human rights defenders, including knowledge in developing comprehensive protection strategies that incorporate a collective, gender, ethnic and intersectional perspective, and in creating a safe and enabling environment for their work, including addressing issues related to discrimination, threats, intimidation, reprisals, and impunity;
  • Extensive experience with and proven commitment to working and/or interacting with civil society and individuals whose human rights may be at risk of, or who have experienced, among other, harassment, stigmatisation, smear campaigns, surveillance, criminalization, threats, intimidation, reprisals, violence or killings as a result of their work in defending human rights;
  • Proven awareness of the particular risks faced by and particular protection needs of specific groups of human rights defenders, such as women human rights defenders, defenders working on sexual orientation and gender identity issues; ethnicity, religion or belief, minorities or people discriminated against based on work, decent or socio-economic status; non-nationals, migrants, refugees and internally displaced people; defenders working on environmental and land rights issues; members of political opposition groups; journalists and media workers; and youth/children human rights defenders;
  • Knowledge of the particular challenges and risks facing human rights defenders in the digital age and proven awareness of the digital security needs of human rights defenders and strategies for protecting and promoting the exercise and defense of human rights online;
  • Experience in interacting with actors impacting the work of human rights defenders, such as: governments and political groups; security forces; armed groups; companies, investors, international or regional financial institutions or development finance institutions; and religious groups and institutions.
  • Experience in the development and delivery of assistance and capacity building in human rights and the rule of law, including as relevant to training of law enforcement officials, judges and other legal professionals and officials responsible for the protection of human rights defenders;
  • Knowledge and sensitivity to the issue of reprisals or intimidation experienced by persons who interact with the mandate in any way.

4. Flexibility/readiness and availability of time to perform effectively the functions of the mandate and to respond to its requirements, including attending Human Rights Council sessions.


  • Willingness and ability to conduct in-country investigations, in all regions of the world, into laws, policies, and practices affecting human rights defenders and their work;
  • Energy, determination and vision to promote the effective and comprehensive implementation of the Declaration on human rights defenders, including the protection of human rights defenders wherever they are at risk, and the promotion of a safe and enabling environment so that they can operate without fear of reprisals;
  • Preparedness, willingness and ability to devote a substantial proportion of working hours to fulfilling the mandate, which includes undertaking two to three country missions per year, preparing and presenting reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly (such as the annual thematic report, and country mission and follow-up reports), attending seminars and other UN meetings and acting on individual cases of human rights violations committed against human rights defenders;
  • Willingness and ability to act urgently on cases or situations requiring immediate attention;
  • A demonstrated commitment to human rights in general, and a commitment to uphold the integrity, objectivity, discretion, independence and impartiality of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate and the Special Procedures system as a whole.


11.11.11. – The coalition of the Flemish North-South movement International
ACAT España-Catalunya National
ACAT-Switzerland National
Action Solidarité Tiers Monde (ASTM) National
Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme (AEDH) National
Al-Haq National
Aluna Acompañamiento Psicosocial, A.C. National
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain Regional
Amnesty International International
Arisa Regional
Article 19 International
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development Regional
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) Regional
Asistencia Legal por los Derechos Humanos, A.C. National
Asociacion Pro Derechos Humanos de España National
Association for Progressive Communications (APC) International
Association for the Prevention of Torture International
Avocats Sans Frontières France International
Balkan Civil Society Development Network BCSDN Regional
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) National
Bread for all National
Broederlijk Delen National
Buliisa Initiative for Rural Development Organisation (BIRUDO) National
Buruea for Rights-Based Development (BRD) National
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre International
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies Regional
Calala Fondo de Mujeres International
Cambodian Center for Human Rights National
Center for Civil Liberties National
Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña “Tlachinollan” National
Centro de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres (CEDEHM) National
Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, AC National
Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías de Córdova National
Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez (Centro Prodh) National
Centro de derechos humanos Paso del Norte. National
Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S.J.” (CSMM) National
Centro Regional de Defensa de Derechos Humanos José Ma. Morelos y Pavón A. C National
Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) National
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) International
CISV Onlus National
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation International
CNCD-11.11.11 (Centre National de Coopération au Développement) National
COC Netherlands National
Colectivo contra la Tortura y la Impunidad A.C. National
Comisión Ciudadana de Derechos Humanos del Noroeste, A.C. National
Comisión de Ayuda al Refugiado en Euskadi  (CEAR-Euskadi) National
Commission Justice et Paix National
Community Resource Centre Foundation (CRC) National
Conectas Direitos Humanos National
Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras (CS.CC.OO.) National
Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos National
Coordinated Organizations and Communities for Roma Human Rights in Greece (SOKADRE) National
Corporación Humanas National
Crude Accountability International
Defend International International
DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) Regional
Derecho, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (DAR) National
Diakonia International
Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) National
Forum Syd International
Free Press Unlimited International
Freedom House International
Front Line Defenders International
Fund for Global Human Rights International
Fundación Mundubat – Mundubat Fundazioa International
Greek Helsinki Monitor National
Green Advocates International (Liberia) International
Greenpeace International
Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) Regional
Human Rights Association (Insan Haklari Dernegi), IHD National
Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan National
Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF) International
Humanist Union of Greece National
ILGA World International
IM Swedish Development Partner International
IM-Defensoras Regional
Indonesian Institute for Independent Judiciary National
Instituto de Derecho Ambiental National
International Dalit Solidarity Network International
International Federation of ACAT (FIACAT) International
International Service for Human Rights International
Irish Council for Civil Liberties National
Just Associates (JASS) International
Karapatan Alliance Philippines Inc. National
Latinamerikagrupperna/Solidaridad Suecia-América Latina (SAL) National
MADA- Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms National
Media Rights Agenda National
Medical Action Group,Inc. National
Minority Rights Group – Greece National
Movimento Católico Global pelo Clima-Brasil National
Namibia Diverse Women’s Association  (NDWA) National
Namibia Equality and Justice Alliance (NEJA) National
National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Kenya National
National Council of Churches in the Philippines National
NGO Forum on ADB Regional
Odhikar National
Oil-Workers’ Rights Protection Organization Public Union National
Open Briefing International
Organisation Tchaienne Anti-Corruption (OTAC) National
Oxfam International Regional
Pakistan Labour Federation National
Participatory Research Action Network- PRAN National
Peace Brigades International International
Peace with Dignity International
People’s Watch National
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity ( PACTI) National
Protection International International
Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos “Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos” National
Réseau International des Droits Humains RIDH International
Robert F Kennedy Human Rights International
Servicios y Asesoría para la Paz A.C. National
Society for International Development (SID) International
Southern Africa Litigation Centre Regional
SweFOR International
Syrian Center for media and freedom of expression – SCM National
The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression National
Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy International
Trocaire International
Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos – Guatemala National
Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State National
We Effect National
Women Solidarity Namibia ( WSN) National
World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) International
Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity National

OHE καταδικάζει Ελλάδα μετά νέα στοιχεία για κακομεταχείριση αιτούντων άσυλο – έκθεση που συνοψίζει στοιχεία από την πρώτη γραμμή δημοσιοποιείται σήμερα


21 Αυγούστου 2019

 OHE καταδικάζει Ελλάδα μετά νέα στοιχεία για κακομεταχείριση αιτούντων άσυλο – έκθεση που συνοψίζει στοιχεία από την πρώτη γραμμή δημοσιοποιείται σήμερα

Μετά την ανακοίνωση της τουρκικής κυβέρνησης για την αναστολή της συμφωνίας ΕΕ-Τουρκίας σχετικά με το μεταναστευτικό, κυκλοφόρησε σήμερα συλλογική έκθεση από τοπικές, εθνικές και διεθνείς οργανώσεις της κοινωνίας των πολιτών, που τονίζει τις ανθρώπινες επιπτώσεις της συμφωνίας ΕΕ-Τουρκίας και της σχετικής ελληνικής πολιτικής περιορισμού.

Η επίσημη κυκλοφορία της είναι σήμερα, αλλά οι μαρτυρίες της έκθεσης είχαν υποβληθεί τον Ιούνιο στην Επιτροπή του ΟΗΕ κατά των Βασανιστηρίων από τις οργανώσεις Refugee Rights Europe, Greek Helsinki Monitor και World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), πριν την εξέταση της Ελλάδας από την Επιτροπή, και στοιχειοθετούν την ανάγκη της αποκατάστασης των προσφύγων θυμάτων κακομεταχείρισης στην Ελλάδα.

Ως αποτέλεσμα της πολιτικής περιορισμού, οι συνθήκες για τους αιτούντες άσυλο που είναι εγκλωβισμένοι στα ελληνικά νησιά επιδεινώθηκαν πολύ γρήγορα. Οι συνθήκες στους καταυλισμούς των νησιών δεν πληρούν ανθρωπιστικά πρότυπα – με τον συνωστισμό, τις υπηρεσίες υγιεινής που υπολειτουργούν και την έλλειψη υποστήριξης για τα άτομα που υποφέρουν από σοβαρά ψυχικά και σωματικά προβλήματα υγείας. Το διάστημα που περνούν στα νησιά, ως αποτέλεσμα της πολιτικής περιορισμού, και η αργή διεκπεραίωση των αιτήσεων, σημαίνει πως τα άτομα αυτά υποχρεώνονται να παραμένουν σε βλαβερές συνθήκες διαβίωσης.

Η νέα έκθεση που κυκλοφορεί σήμερα από τη Refugee Rights Europe και εταίρους της είναι ένας απολογισμός που έχει ερευνηθεί σχολαστικά και βασίζεται σε μαρτυρίες από πρώτο χέρι, καταθέσεις και παρατηρήσεις που έχουν τεκμηριώσει 12 οργανώσεις της κοινωνίας των πολιτών που δραστηριοποιούνται στα ελληνικά νησιά και την ηπειρωτική χώρα το 2019, σε συνδυασμό με τη σε βάθος έρευνα που διενεργήθηκε από τη Refugee Rights Europe στη Χίο, στη Λέσβο και στην ελληνική ηπειρωτική χώρα κατά τη διετία 2016-2018. Τα θέματα που θίγονται στην έκθεση εξετάσθηκαν από την Επιτροπή του ΟΗΕ κατά των Βασανιστηρίων, η οποία πρόσφατα διατύπωσε αρκετές αυστηρές συστάσεις με τις οποίες η Ελλάδα πρέπει να συμμορφωθεί (βλ. Παράρτημα).

Μεταξύ των σημαντικών θεμάτων είναι οι ανησυχητικά κακές συνθήκες κράτησης με ακατάλληλες εγκαταστάσεις υγιεινής και ελλείψεις στην πρόσβαση σε ιατροφαρμακευτική περίθαλψη και σε νομικές εγγυήσεις. Η έκθεση επίσης αναφέρει τη συχνότητα της κακομεταχείρισης από την αστυνομία στα κέντρα κράτησης, από ξυλοδαρμούς, έως πάτημα στην πλάτη και το κεφάλι και επιθετική συμπεριφορά.

Επιπρόσθετα, οι ενδείξεις μιλούν για ανησυχητικό  ποσοστό έμφυλης βίας κατά γυναικών και κοριτσιών που ζητούν άσυλο, που εκδηλώνεται στην Ελλάδα και ειδικότερα στα νησιά. Συχνά, υπάρχει έλλειψη ειδικής προστασίας και εγγυήσεων, ενώ η έλλειψη φροντίδας έκτακτης ανάγκης σε περιπτώσεις βιασμού είναι κρίσιμη σε πολλά από τα νησιά.

Γενικά, η Επιτροπή του ΟΗΕ κατά των Βασανιστηρίων ζητά από την Ελλάδα να συμμορφωθεί με τις συγκεκριμένες προτάσεις περί: µη επαναπροώθησης, κράτησης ασυνόδευτων παιδιών μεταναστών ή αιτούντων άσυλο, σεξουαλικής βίας και έμφυλης βίας κατά γυναικών που ζητούν άσυλο, και υπερασπιστών των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων και εργαζόμενων στον τομέα της ανθρωπιστικής βοήθειας και εθελοντών.

Η Άλις Λούκας (Alice Lucas), Διαχειρίστρια Υπεράσπισης Δικαιωμάτων και Πολιτικής της Refugee Rights Ευρώπης, είπε: «Η νέα ελληνική κυβέρνηση, που ανήλθε στην εξουσία τον Ιούλιο που πέρασε, έχει την ευκαιρία να αναζητήσει νέες λύσεις που μπορούν να βοηθήσουν στην αλλαγή της πραγματικότητας την οποία βιώνουν τα χιλιάδες άτομα που ξεφεύγουν από τον πόλεμο, τον κατατρεγμό και τις παρατεταμένες κρίσεις. Μαζί με τους εταίρους μας, απευθύνουμε έκκληση για την άμεση διακοπή της πολιτικής περιορισμού στα νησιά και τη λήψη μέτρων για τη βελτίωση των συνθηκών διαβίωσης των εγκλωβισμένων στα νησιά, μαζί με αυξημένους πόρους για την υποδοχή στην ηπειρωτική χώρα αιτούντων άσυλο.

Ο Παναγιώτης Δημητράς, Εκπρόσωπος του Ελληνικού Παρατηρητηρίου των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ), είπε: «Η έκθεσή μας ρίχνει φως στις ευρείες παραβιάσεις δικαιωμάτων και την κακομεταχείριση που αντιμετωπίζουν οι πρόσφυγες στην Ελλάδα. Καλωσορίζουμε τις πρόσφατες παρατηρήσεις της Επιτροπής του ΟΗΕ κατά των Βασανιστηρίων όπου αντικατοπτρίζονται πολλοί από τους προβληματισμούς μας – που συμπεριλαμβάνουν τη χρήση υπερβολικής βίας, την έλλειψη δυνατότητας προσφυγής σε νομική βοήθεια κατά τη διάρκεια της κράτησης, την εκτεταμένη ύπαρξη σεξουαλικής βίας και έμφυλης βίας και την παράνομη κράτηση ανηλίκων.»

Ο Τζέραλντ Στάμπεροκ (Gerald Staberock), Γενικός Γραμματέας της Παγκόμσιας Οργάνωσης κατά των Βασανιστηρίων (OMCT), είπε: «Όταν οι αυθαίρετες κρατήσεις και οι ξυλοδαρμοί προσφύγων γίνονται μοτίβο συμπεριφοράς, όταν οικογένειες και ασυνόδευτα παιδιά κρατούνται υπό απαράδεκτες συνθήκες χωρίς πρόσβαση σε ιατροφαρμακευτική περίθαλψη, όταν ακόμα κι αυτοί που είναι έτοιμοι να επιστρέψουν στη χώρα από όπου προήλθαν παραμένουν υπό κράτηση για μήνες, πρέπει να υπάρξει ένα ορατό τέλος σε όλα αυτά. Προτρέπουμε την Ελλάδα να σταματήσει την αυθαίρετη κράτηση μεταναστών, να τοποθετεί παιδιά σε ικανοποιητικά καταλύματα, να λάβει μέτρα για ένα μακροπρόθεσμο και βιώσιμο σχέδιο υποδοχής, και για τη διασφάλιση της διαθεσιμότητας βασικών υπηρεσιών, που συμπεριλαμβάνουν στέγη, ιατροφαρμακευτική περίθαλψη και μόρφωση.»

Υπόβαθρο: Η Δήλωση ΕΕ-Τουρκίας

  • Στις18 Μαρτίου 2016, η ΕΕ και η Τουρκία υπέγραψαν τη Δήλωση ΕΕ-Τουρκίας, που ουσιαστικά επιτρέπει στην Ελλάδα να επιστρέφει στην Τουρκία νεοαφικνυόμενους ‘παράτυπους μετανάστες’ από τη Συρία με αντάλλαγμα Ευρωπαϊκή βοήθεια. Η ελληνική πολιτική περιορισμού τέθηκε σε ισχύ για την εκτέλεση της συμφωνίας, απαγορεύοντας τη μετακίνηση αυτών από τα νησιά προς την ηπειρωτική Ελλάδα μέχρι να τύχουν επεξεργασίας οι αιτήσεις χορήγησης ασύλου τους.
  • Η νομιμότητα αυτού του γεωγραφικού περιορισμού έχει αμφισβητηθεί ευρέως, και τον Απρίλιο 2018, ελληνικό δικαστήριο απεφάνθη κατά της πολιτικής αυτής. Ωστόσο, η εκτέλεση της απόφασης εμποδίστηκε άμεσα από την ελληνική κυβέρνηση, που μετέτρεψε την Οδηγία ΕΕ 2013/33 σε νόμο, συνεχίζοντας έτσι την πολιτική περιορισμού στα νησιά.

 Επαφές μέσων ενημέρωσης

Ο Παναγιώτης Δημητράς, Εκπρόσωπος του Ελληνικού Παρατηρητηρίου των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ)
E: panayotedimitras@gmail.com
Μ: +30 6932746619

Γιολάντα Ζακμέ (Iolanda Jaquemet), Διευθύντρια Επικοινωνίας, Παγκόσμια Οργάνωση κατά των βασανιστηρίων (OMCT)
E: ij@omct.org
Μ: +41 79 539 41 06

Μάρτα Βελάντερ (Marta Welander), Εκτελεστική Διευθύντρια, Refugee Rights Europe
Ε: Marta.Welander@RefugeeRights.org.uk
Μ: +447880230979

Δελτίο τύπου στα αγγλικά εδώ

Παράρτημα: Κύρια αποσπάσματα από τις «Συμπερασματικές παρατηρήσεις επί της έβδομης έκθεσης για την Ελλάδα», Επιτροπή του ΟΗΕ κατά των βασανιστηρίων

Μη Επαναπροώθηση – το συμβαλλόμενο Κράτος πρέπει:

  1. Να διασφαλίζει ότι στην πράξη κανείς δεν μπορεί να απελαύνεται, επιστρέφεται ή εκδίδεται σε άλλο Κράτος για το οποίο ευλόγως πιστεύεται πως αυτός ή αυτή διατρέχει προσωπικό και προβλεπόμενο κίνδυνο να υποστεί βασανιστήρια και κακομεταχείριση.
  2. Να βελτιώνει τις προσπάθειες διασφάλισης της ποινικής λογοδοσίας για τους δράστες πράξεων που έθεσαν τη ζωή και την ασφάλεια μεταναστών και αιτούντων άσυλο σε κίνδυνο και να διασφαλίζει ότι τα θύματα, οι μάρτυρες και οι προσφεύγοντες προστατεύονται από κακομεταχείριση ή εκφοβισμό που μπορεί να προκύψει ως αποτέλεσμα των μηνύσεων ή καταγγελιών τους.
  3. Να εγγυάται πως όλοι αυτού που ζητούν άσυλο έχουν την ευκαιρία να περάσουν από ατομική εξέταση, με αυτόματη αναστολή αποφάσεων απέλασης, και ότι προστατεύονται από επαναπροώθηση και συλλογική επιστροφή.

Σύστημα ασύλου – το συμβαλλόμενο Κράτος πρέπει:

  1. Να ενισχύει τη δυνατότητα ουσιαστικής εκτίμησης από την Υπηρεσία Ασύλου όλων των ατομικών αιτήσεων για άσυλο ή διεθνή προστασία.
  2. Να εγγυάται πως οι ταχείες συνοριακές διαδικασίες σύμφωνα με τη Ανακοίνωση ΕΕ-Τουρκίας του Μαρτίου 2016 και άλλες συμφωνίες επανεισδοχής υπόκεινται σε διεξοδική εκτίμηση για κάθε περίπτωση ξεχωριστά των κινδύνων παραβίασης της αρχής της μη επαναπροώθησης, διασφαλίζοντας την τήρηση όλων των εγγυήσεων που σχετίζονται με τις διαδικασίες ασύλου και απέλασης.
  3. Να διασφαλίζει ότι τυχόν μέτρα που περιορίζουν την ελευθερία κινήσεων των αιτούντων άσυλο συνάδουν με τις υποχρεώσεις σύμφωνα με τη Σύμβαση και άλλες διεθνείς συνθήκες για τα δικαιώματα του ανθρώπου.
  4. Να διαμορφώνει ξεκάθαρες κατευθυντήριες οδηγίες και σχετική εκπαίδευση σε αυτές για την αναγνώριση θυμάτων βασανιστηρίων και άλλων που χρήζουν διεθνούς προστασίας μεταξύ αιτούντων άσυλο και μεταναστών.

Κράτηση μετανάστευσης – το συμβαλλόμενο Κράτος πρέπει:

  1. Να μη προβαίνει σε κράτηση ατόμων που αιτούνται άσυλο και παράτυπων μεταναστών ή μεταναστών χωρίς τα απαραίτητα έγγραφα για παρατεταμένες περιόδους, να χρησιμοποιεί την κράτηση ως μέτρο έσχατης λύσης και για το βραχύτερο δυνατό διάστημα, και να συνεχίζει την εφαρμογή μη περιοριστικών της ελευθερίας μέτρων, σύμφωνα με τα διεθνή πρότυπα.
  2. Να εγγυάται πως οι κρατούμενοι που αιτούνται άσυλο έχουν πρόσβαση σε δικηγόρο, συμπεριλαμβανομένου του δικαιώματος της νομικής βοήθειας.
  3. Να εγγυάται το δικαστικό έλεγχο ή άλλους ουσιαστικούς και αποτελεσματικούς ελέγχους προσφυγών κατά της νομιμότητας της διοικητικής κράτησης μεταναστών.
  4. Να λαμβάνει τα απαραίτητα μέτρα για τη διασφάλιση των κατάλληλων συνθηκών υποδοχής για αιτούντες άσυλο και για μετανάστες.
  5. Να ενισχύει τις προσπάθειές του για τη διασφάλιση ικανοποιητικών συνθηκών διαβίωσης σε όλα τα μεταναστευτικά κέντρα.
  6. Να διασφαλίζει ότι οι αιτούντες άσυλο και οι μετανάστες που κρατούνται λαμβάνουν ικανοποιητική ιατροφαρμακευτική φροντίδα και φροντίδα ψυχικής υγείας, που συμπεριλαμβάνει ιατρική εξέταση κατά την εισαγωγή και τακτικές επανεξετάσεις.
  7. Να δημιουργήσει αποτελεσματικό και ανεξάρτητο μηχανισμό εποπτείας της Υπηρεσίας Υποδοχής και Ταυτοποίησης, όπου τα άτομα που κρατούνται σε μεταναστευτικά κέντρα να μπορούν να υποβάλλουν καταγγελίες.
  8. Να διασφαλίζει πως όλοι οι ισχυρισμοί περί βασανιστηρίων και κακομεταχείρισης από υπαλλήλους επιβολής του νόμου διερευνώνται αμέσως, πλήρως και αντικειμενικά, πως οι δράστες διώκονται, και αν κριθούν ένοχοι τιμωρούνται, και εξασφαλίζεται αποκατάσταση για τα θύματα.

Ασυνόδευτα παιδιά που είναι μετανάστες και ζητούν άσυλο – το συμβαλλόμενο Κράτος πρέπει:

  1. Να διασφαλίζει ότι τα παιδιά δεν κρατούνται μόνο λόγω της ιδιότητάς τους ως μετανάστες. Η κράτηση χρησιμοποιείται ως μέτρο έσχατης λύσης και για το βραχύτερο δυνατό διάστημα.
  2. Να σταματήσει την πρακτική της κράτησης μεταναστών και ατόμων που αιτούνται άσυλο, ειδικά τα ασυνόδευτα παιδιά, σε κρατητήρια της αστυνομίας και άλλες εγκαταστάσεις κράτησης που δεν είναι κατάλληλες για μακροχρόνια παραμονή.

Σεξουαλική βία και έμφυλη βία κατά μεταναστριών και γυναικών που ζητούν άσυλο – το συμβαλλόμενο Κράτος πρέπει:

  1. Να λαμβάνει αποτελεσματικά μέτρα για να διασφαλίζεται πως όλες οι υποθέσεις έμφυλης βίας – ειδικότερα κατά γυναικών και κοριτσιών μεταναστριών ή αιτουσών άσυλο, ειδικά αυτές στις οποίες εμπλέκονται πράξεις και παραλείψεις από κρατικές αρχές ή άλλους φορείς που δεσμεύουν τη διεθνή ευθύνη του συμβαλλόμενου Κράτους σύμφωνα με τη Σύμβαση – διερευνώνται πλήρως, πως οι φερόμενοι δράστες διώκονται, και, αν κριθούν ένοχοι, τιμωρούνται με τον κατάλληλο τρόπο, και εξασφαλίζεται αποκατάσταση για τα θύματα και τις οικογένειές τους, συμπεριλαμβανομένης της ικανοποιητικής αποζημίωσης.
  2. Να διασφαλίζει πως αστυνομικοί και εισαγγελείς δεν θα αποθαρρύνουν τα φερόμενα θύματα έμφυλης βίας όταν αυτά προβαίνουν σε καταγγελίες. Το συμβαλλόμενο Κράτος πρέπει επίσης να αναθεωρήσει τις πρακτικές της αστυνομίας που μπορεί να αποτρέπουν τις γυναίκες από το να αναζητούν την προστασία των αρχών σε περιπτώσεις που έχουν υποστεί ή κινδυνεύουν να υποστούν έμφυλη βία.
  3. Να παρέχει υποχρεωτική εκπαίδευση για τη δίωξη της έμφυλης βίας σε όλους τους υπαλλήλους του συστήματος απονομής δικαιοσύνης και του προσωπικού επιβολής του νόμου και να συνεχίζει τις εκστρατείες ευαισθητοποίησης για όλες της μορφές βίας κατά των γυναικών.
  4. Να υιοθετεί συγκεκριμένα προστατευτικά μέτρα, συμπεριλαμβανομένης της δημιουργίας μηχανισμού για την αποτροπή και την ανταπόκριση σε σεξουαλική βία και έμφυλη βία κατά μεταναστριών και γυναικών και κοριτσιών που ζητούν άσυλο, ειδικά αυτών που κρατούνται σε κέντρα υποδοχής και άλλες εγκαταστάσεις κράτησης μεταναστών.
  5. Να διασφαλίζει πως οι επιζώντες έμφυλης βίας έχουν πρόσβαση σε καταφύγια και λαμβάνουν την απαραίτητη ιατρική φροντίδα, την ψυχολογική υποστήριξη και τη νομική βοήθεια που χρειάζονται.
  6. Να συλλέξει και να παράσχει στην Επιτροπή στατιστικά στοιχεία, διαχωρισμένα με βάση την ηλικία και την εθνότητα ή εθνικότητα του θύματος, τον αριθμό των καταγγελιών, διερευνήσεων, διώξεων και καταδικαστικών αποφάσεων σε περιπτώσεις έμφυλης βίας, καθώς και τα μέτρα που υιοθετήθηκαν για να διασφαλίζεται ότι τα θύματα έχουν πρόσβαση σε αποτελεσματικά μέσα έννομης προστασίας και αποκατάστασης.

Εμπορία ανθρώπων – το συμβαλλόμενο Κράτος πρέπει:

  1. Να εντείνει τις προσπάθειές του για την αποτροπή και την καταπολέμηση της εμπορίας ανθρώπων, συμπεριλαμβανομένης της θέσπισης αποτελεσματικών διαδικασιών για την αναγνώριση και την παραπομπή θυμάτων μεταξύ ευαίσθητων ομάδων, όπως αιτούντες άσυλο και μετανάστες, που συμπεριλαμβάνουν ασυνόδευτους ανηλίκους.
  2. Να ενισχύει τις προσπάθειες διερεύνησης ισχυρισμών εμπορίας ανθρώπων, συμπεριλαμβανομένων παλαιών υποθέσεων εμπορίας για τους σκοπούς εργασιακής εκμετάλλευσης, να διώκει τους δράστες και να διασφαλίζει ότι τα θύματα εμπορίας λαμβάνουν αποζημίωση.
  3. Να διασφαλίζει σε όλα τα θύματα εμπορίας την ικανοποιητική πρόσβαση και υποστήριξη σε ειδικά ασφαλή καταφύγια και συμβουλευτικές υπηρεσίες.

UN reproaches Greece following new evidence of ill-treatment of asylum seekers – report summarising the evidence from the frontlines released today

report cover

PRESS RELEASE, 21 August 2019

UN reproaches Greece following new evidence of ill-treatment of asylum seekers – report summarising the evidence from the frontlines released today

In the wake of the announcement by the Turkish government that the EU-Turkey deal on migration would be suspended, a collective of local, national and international civil society organisations have released today a new report highlighting the human consequences of the EU-Turkey deal and the related Greek containment policy.

Officially released today, the evidence found in the report was previously submitted in June to the United Nations Committee Against Torture by Refugee Rights Europe, Greek Helsinki Monitor and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), ahead of its review of Greece, making a strong case for the need for redress of ill-treatment of refugees in Greece.

As a result of the policy, the conditions for asylum seekers trapped on the Greek islands have rapidly deteriorated. Conditions in the camps on the islands fail to meet humane standards – with overcrowding, failing sanitation services and a lack of support for individuals suffering from severe mental and physical health problems. The length of time spent on the islands as a result of the containment policy, and slow processing of applications, means that individuals are forced to remain in harmful conditions.

The new report released today by Refugee Rights Europe and partners is a rigorously researched account based on first-hand evidence, testimonies and observations documented by 12 civil society organisations operating on the Greek islands and the mainland in 2019, combined with in-depth research conducted by Refugee Rights Europe in Chios, Lesvos and the Greek mainland in 2016-2018. The issues raised in the report have been taken up by the UN Committee Against Torture, that recently made a number of strong recommendations for Greece to address within a year’s time (see Annex).

Amongst the key issues are the alarmingly poor conditions in detention, with inadequate sanitation facilities and a lack of access to medical care and legal safeguards. The report also indicates the prevalence of ill-treatment by the police in detention centres, ranging from beatings, standing on people’s backs and heads and aggressive behavior.

In addition, evidence points to an alarming rate of gender-based violence against refugee and asylum-seeking women and girls occurring in Greece, and in particular on the islands. There is often a lack of special protections and safeguards in place, while post-rape emergency care is critically lacking on many of the islands.

Overall, the UN Committee Against Torture requests that Greece addresses the specific recommendations on: non-refoulement; detention of unaccompanied migrant and asylum-seeking children; sexual and gender-based violence against refugee and asylum-seeking women; and, human rights defenders and humanitarian workers and volunteers.

Alice Lucas, Advocacy and Policy Manager at Refugee Rights Europe, said: “The new Greek government, which ascended into power this July, is faced with an opportunity to seek new solutions which can help transform the lived realities of thousands fleeing war, persecution and protracted crises. Alongside our partners, we’re calling for an urgent end to the containment policy and immediate measures to improve the conditions for those trapped on the islands, accompanied by increased resources to receive asylum seekers on the mainland.”

Panayote Dimitras, Spokesperson at Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), said: “Our report shines a light on the wide-ranging rights violations and ill-treatment facing refugees in Greece. We welcome the recent observations of the UN Committee Against Torture in which many of our concerns are acknowledged – including the use of excessive force, the lack of recourse to legal aid whilst in detention, the high prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence and the unlawful detention of minors.”

Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General, said: “When arbitrary detention and beatings of refugees become a pattern, when families and unaccompanied children are held in substandard conditions without access to healthcare, when even those ready to return to their country of origin remain detained for months, there must be an end in sight. We urge Greece to end the arbitrary detention of migrants, to place children in adequate accommodation, to take steps for a long term and sustainable reception plan, and to ensure the availability of essential services, including social housing, health care and education.”

Background: The EU-Turkey Statement

  • On 18th March 2016, the EU and Turkey signed the EU-Turkey Statement, essentially allowing Greece to return to Turkey any new so-called ‘irregular migrants’ from Syria in exchange for European aid. The Greek containment policy was put in to effect to implement the deal, prohibiting movement from the islands to mainland Greece until their asylum claims have been processed.
  • The legality of this geographical restriction has been widely questioned, and in April 2018 a Greek court ruled against the policy. However, the ruling was swiftly blocked by the Greek Government, which transposed EU Directive 2013/33 into Greek law, thus, in effect, continuing the containment policy on the islands.

Media contacts

Panayote Dimitras, Spokesperson, Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM)
E: panayotedimitras@gmail.com
M: +30 6932746619

Iolanda Jaquemet, Director of Communications, World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
E: ij@omct.org
M: +41 79 539 41 06

Marta Welander, Executive Director, Refugee Rights Europe
E: Marta.Welander@RefugeeRights.org.uk
M: +447880230979

Press release in Greek here

Annex: Key excepts from the ‘Concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of Greece’, United Nations Committee Against Torture

Non-refoulement – the State party should:

  1. Ensure that in practice no one may be expelled, returned or extradited to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he or she would run a personal and foreseeable risk of being subjected to torture and ill-treatment;
  2. Enhance efforts to ensure the criminal accountability for perpetrators of acts that put the lives and safety of migrants and asylum seekers at risk, and ensure that victims, witnesses and claimants are protected against ill-treatment or intimidation that may arise as a consequence of their complaints;
  3. Guarantee that all asylum seekers have the opportunity for an individual review, with automatic suspensive effect against expulsion decisions, and are protected from refoulement and collective return.

Asylum system – The State party should:

  1. Reinforce the capacity of the Asylum Service to substantively assess all individual applications for asylum or international protection;
  2. Guarantee that the accelerated border procedures under the EU-Turkey Statement of March 2016 and other readmission agreements are subject to a thorough assessment on a case-by-case basis of the risks of violations of the principle of non-refoulement, ensuring respect for all safeguards with regard to asylum and deportation procedures;
  3. Ensure that any measures restricting the freedom of movement of asylum seekers are consistent with its obligations under the Convention and other international human rights treaties;
  4. Formulate clear guidelines and related training on the identification of torture victims and others in need of international protection among asylum seekers and migrants.

Immigration detention – The State party should:

  1. Refrain from detaining asylum seekers and irregular or undocumented migrants for prolonged periods, use detention as a measure of last resort and for the shortest period possible and continue the application of non-custodial measures, in conformity with international standards;
  2. Guarantee that detained asylum seekers and migrants have access to counsel, including legal aid services;
  3. Guarantee judicial review or other meaningful and effective avenues to challenge the legality of administrative immigration detention;
  4. Take the necessary measures to ensure appropriate reception conditions for asylum seekers and migrants;
  5. Strengthen its efforts to ensure adequate living conditions in all immigration centres;
  6. Ensure that asylum seekers and migrants held in detention are provided with adequate medical and mental health care, including a medical examination upon admission and routine assessments;
  7. Establish an effective and independent oversight mechanism of the Reception and Identification Service to which individuals held in immigration detention can bring complains;
  8. Ensure that all allegations of torture and ill-treatment by law-enforcement officials are promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigated by the authorities, that the perpetrators are prosecuted, and if found guilty, punished and that victims are provided with redress.

Unaccompanied migrant and asylum-seeking children – The State party should:

  1. Ensure that children are not detained solely because of their immigration status. Detention should be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest period possible;
  2. End the practice of detaining migrants and asylum seekers, especially unaccompanied children, in police holding cells and other detention facilities that are not suitable for long stays.

Sexual and gender-based violence against refugee and asylum-seeking women – The  State party should:

  1. Take effective measures to ensure that all cases of gender-based violence – in particular against refugee, asylum-seeking and migrant women and girls, and especially those involving actions or omissions by State authorities or other entities that engage the international responsibility of the State party under the Convention– are thoroughly investigated, that the alleged perpetrators are prosecuted and, if convicted, punished appropriately, and that the victims or their families receive redress, including adequate compensation;
  2. Ensure that police officers and prosecutors refrain from turning away alleged victims of gender-based violence. The State party should also consider revising police practices that may deter women from seeking protection from the authorities in cases where they have been subjected to or are at risk of gender-based violence;
  3. Provide mandatory training on prosecution of gender-based violence to all justice officials and law enforcement personnel and continue awareness-raising campaigns on all forms of violence against women;
  4. Adopt specific protective measures, including the establishment of a mechanism to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence against refugee, asylum-seeking and migrant women and girls, especially those held in RICs- ‘hotspots’, reception centres and other immigration detention facilities;
  5. Ensure that survivors of gender based-violence are able to access shelters and receive the necessary medical care, psychological support and legal assistance they require;
  6. Compile and provide to the Committee statistical data, disaggregated by the age and the ethnicity or nationality of the victim, on the number of complaints, investigations, prosecutions, convictions and sentences recorded in cases of gender-based violence, as well as on the measures adopted to ensure that victims have access to effective remedies and reparation.

Human trafficking – The State party should:

  1. Intensify its efforts to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings, including by putting in place effective procedures for the identification and referral of victims among vulnerable groups, such as asylum seekers and migrants, including unaccompanied minors
  2. Enhance the efforts to investigate claims of human trafficking, including past cases of trafficking for purposes of labour exploitation, and prosecute perpetrators and ensure that victims of trafficking obtain compensation
  3. Ensure access to adequate protection and support for all victims of trafficking, especially secure shelters and counselling services.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders: Cyprus: Police abuse and arbitrary detention against Mr. Doros Polykarpou


Cyprus: Police abuse and arbitrary detention against Mr. Doros Polykarpou

CYP 001 / 0819 / OBS 067

Police Abuse / Arbitrary detention /

Judicial harassment


August 20, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Cyprus.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), about the police abuse including the arbitrary detention against Mr. Doros Polykarpou, Executive Director of KISA, a migrant support NGO in Cyprus.

According to the information received, on August 2, 2019, Mr. Doros Polykarpou was arrested by the police in front of the KISA office. At approximately 10:30am, Mr. Polykarpou heard a police officer shouting at a 16-year-old boy who was driving a motorcycle. The scene happened outside of KISA premises. When Mr. Polykarpou approached the young man to ask if he needed any help, the police officer ordered him to leave immediately and when he refused, saying it was a public place and he had every right to stay and watch what was happening, the police officer said Mr. Polykarpou was being arrested for obstructing the work of the police. The police officer also threatened to arrest all other KISA staff who were present, in spite of assurances of Mr. Polykarpou that there was no intention to hinder the work of the police.

The police officer then alerted his colleagues, who arrived on the spot, and arrested Mr. Polykarpou. The latter was taken to Lycavitos police station, and charged with “obstruction of police work” and “attempt to escape”[1]. He was subsequently released. KISA filed a complaint over Mr. Polykarpou’s treatment, adding that the organisation had previously filed a complaint against the same police officer for the illegal and violent arrest of a migrant in Solomou Square on June 1, 2019, followed by a racial profiling as well as the violation of all his procedural rights.

The Observatory expresses its concern due to the fact that this attack against Mr. Polykarpou is not an isolated incident but is part of a broader trend of acts of intimidation and retaliation against KISA for its work supporting migrants’ rights and defending human rights. Such incident is the sixth similar attack against members of KISA since 2010. All the five previous cases of criminalisation ended up by an acquittal in the court[2].

The Observatory expresses its deep concern for the situation of Mr. Doros Polykarpou and urges the authorities to put an end to any kind of harassment against him and against all human rights defenders in Cyprus.

The Observatory recalls that Cyprus has an international obligation to protect human rights defenders, with a specific emphasis on preventing abuse of power by law enforcement officers. In certain cases where police officers repeatedly commit the crime of abuse of power with no adequate punishment, an environment of impunity is created, with dire consequences for the rule of law and human rights.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Cyprus asking them to:

  1. Put an end to any kind of harassment – including at the judicial level – against Mr. Doros Polykarpou and all human rights defenders in Cyprus and ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals in all circumstances;
  2. Comply with all the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular with its Articles 12(2) and 18(2);
  3. Ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international human rights instruments ratified by Cyprus.


  • President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades Email: info@presidency.gov.cy Fax: +357 22 663799
  • Minister of Justice Mr. George L. SavvidesEmail: registry@mjpo.gov.cy Fax: +357 22518356
  • Police Service of Cyprus, Chief of Police Kypros Michaelides, Email: police@police.gov.cy Fax: +4122808598
  • Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the EU, Ambassador Nicholas Emiliou, Email: cy.perm.rep@mfa.gov.cy Fax: +32 2 7354552
  • Permanent Mission of Cyprus to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Ambassador George Kasoulides, Email: pm.geneva@mfa.gov.cy Fax:+41227910084
  • Embassy of Cyprus in Brussels, Belgium, Ambassador Antonis Grivas   Εmail: cyprusembassybe@mfa.gov.cy Fax +322650 06 20

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Cyprus in your respective countries.


Geneva-Paris, August 20, 2019

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

[1] “Obstructing police work”: imprisonment not exceeding one month, or to a fine not exceeding one hundred fifty pounds, or both. “Attempt to escape lawful arrest”: imprisonment up to five years.

[2] The previous charges included: Illegal fundraising, disobeying court order and receiving stolen goods, resisting arrest and causing bodily harm to police officer, using megaphone, disturbance of public order, conspiracy for committing an offence, intervention in the court procedures, rioting, threatening to commit violence. All the charges were later dropped by the court. See for instance Observatory Press Release, May 7, 2012; Observatory Joint Press Release, June 5, 2012 and Observatory Joint Open Letter to the Authorities, November 23, 2012.

Justicia: Arrest of KISA Director reflects wider European trend of criminalising support for migrants

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Arrest of KISA Director reflects wider European trend of criminalising support for migrants

admin – August 16, 2019 – migration, freedom of association, rule of law, civil society, Justicia


Earlier this month, the Executive Director of KISA – Action for Equality, Support, Anti-racism, a member of the JUSTICIA network coordinated by Fair Trials, was arrested for allegedly “obstructing police work” and “attempting to escape lawful arrest,” after offering assistance to a young man, a foreign national, who was being questioned aggressively by the police outside of KISA’s offices in Nicosia, Cyprus. This is the sixth arrest of KISA’s Executive Director over the past two decades, and it is part of a broader crackdown on NGOs assisting refugees and migrants in the context of rule of law backsliding and shrinking space for civil society in the European Union.

“KISA is of the view that this case, the sixth, is part of the criminalisation [process] and [an] attempt to intimidate and retaliate against it for its work in supporting migrant women and protecting human rights,” reads KISA’s statement on the arrest.

After being interrogated by the police, KISA’s Executive Director was accused of “obstructing police work,” an offense which carries a maximum fine of 150 pounds or jail time of one month, or both, and of “attempting to escape lawful arrest and custody,” which carries a prison sentence of up to five years.

Other charges brought against the Director since 2002 have included: illegal fundraising (for an urgent surgery of a migrant domestic worker); the use of megaphones without a licence during a solidarity event; trespassing (to investigate the death of a migrant man at the hands of the police); and rioting during the 13th Rainbow Festival, which was attacked by extreme-right groups. In five out of six cases, charges brought against him were either dropped by the Attorney General or led to acquittal.

In the last case, however, the Director of KISA was fined for “disturbing the peace” when he visited a police station in Nicosia and attempted to urge the police to take action to protect a migrant woman who had been a victim of violence and harassment.

Following the latest arrest of the Executive Director, the police officer also threatened to arrest all other KISA staff, if they published photographs or other material from the scene of the incident. The officer in question had been on KISA’s radar for a while, having received numerous complaints from non-nationals regarding his violent and disrespectful behaviour in breach of their human rights, including fair trial rights. KISA has filed a complaint with the local police watchdog to investigate the conduct of officer in question, but also asked for a broader examination into police abuses.

According to KISA’s press release, the Cypriot government is stifling the work of civil society groups by depriving them of resources and funding. Although the Cypriot police did not issue a press release about the latest arrest of KISA’s Executive Director, local media coverage portrayed his actions and the work of KISA in a negative, defamatory light. Both risk further shrinking civil society space in Cyprus, which could have long-term consequences for the rule of law, freedom of association and fundamental rights in the country.

The number of individuals criminalised for humanitarian activities in the EU has grown tenfold in the past three years, contributing to a general climate of mistrust and suspicion towards civil society. Such prosecutions are often politically motivated so as to defame individuals or civil society actors, to deter solidarity and create a hostile environment for migrants.

Last June, Members of European Parliament in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee highlighted in a non-legislative resolution that EU laws are having “unintended consequences” for EU citizens, because they fail to properly distinguish between human smuggling and humanitarian work. They called on EU member states to include an exemption in their national laws for individuals and civil society organisations who assist migrants for humanitarian reasons and to ensure that they are not prosecuted for doing so.

In July 2019, several members of our JUSTICIA network signed a joint statement together with other European and national human rights organisations on the growing number of cases of criminal investigation and prosecution against individuals who provide humanitarian assistance, which Member States are unwilling or unable to provide, despite being obliged to do so according to international and EU law.

Justicia members

Ένας θρασύδειλος συκοφάντης του ΕΠΣΕ

Ένας θρασύδειλος συκοφάντης. Συκοφαντεί ότι δουλεύουμε για οργανισμό που δεν υπάρχει. Του λέμε να τα πει σε ΟΗΕ-ΕΔΔΑ-ΜΚΟ που συνομιλούν μαζί μας. Ζητά λινκ για να τον αποστομώσουμε. Τα βάζουμε και φυσικά ούτε μια συγγνώμη. Στο τέλος εδώ προσθέτουμε τι δείχνουν τα λινκς στα οποία τον παραπέμψαμε (και η προσφυγή στο ΕΔΔΑ Τ.Ι. κ.α. κατά Ελλάδας είχε υποβληθεί από το ΕΠΣΕ). 

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