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RACIST CRIMES WATCH - Παρατηρητηριο Ρατσιστικων Εγκληματων

18 Οκτωβρίου 2019, 11:39 | Παρατηρητήριο Ρατσιστικών Εγκλημάτων
[Αφορά το άρθρο 137Α “Βασανιστήρια”]

Είναι θετικό πως ενσωματώσατε δύο από τις συστάσεις της Επιτροπής του ΟΗΕ κατά των Βασανιστηρίων με την αντικατάσταση του όρου «μεθοδευμένη» με τον όρο «εσκεμμένη» και την προσθήκη πως υπάρχουν βασανιστήρια και όταν η επιλογή του παθόντος έχει γίνει λόγω συγκεκριμένων χαρακτηριστικών, όπως του φύλου, της θρησκείας κλπ.

Θα ήταν πάντως καλύτερα για το πρώτο να μπει η ορολογία από την επίσημη μετάφραση της Σύμβασης «ο όρος «βασανιστήρια» σημαίνει κάθε πράξη με την οποία, σωματικός ή ψυχικός πόνος ή έντονη οδύνη επιβάλλονται με πρόθεση σ’ ένα πρόσωπο»

Η Επιτροπή του ΟΗΕ κατά των Βασανιστηρίων όμως ζήτησε από την Ελλάδα να μην υπάρχει παραγραφή για τα αδικήματα αυτά. Αυτό πρέπει να συμπεριληφθεί ώστε να συμμορφωθεί η χώρα με την ανάλογη σύσταση.

Ζήτησε επίσης να αναφέρεται ρητά «εφ’ όσον ένας τέτοιας πόνος ή οδύνη επιβάλλονται από δημόσιο…

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

ΔΕΛΤΙΟ ΤΥΠΟΥ

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.

09/08/2019: UN Committee against Torture on Greece’s (non) implementation of Convention against Torture

Στιγμιότυπο οθόνης (7)

cat on greece 2019-01

cat on greece 2019-02cat on greece 2019-03cat on greece 2019-04cat on greece 2019-05cat on greece 2019-06cat on greece 2019-07cat on greece 2019-08cat on greece 2019-09cat on greece 2019-10cat on greece 2019-11cat on greece 2019-12

Source here
Document available also in word format here: cat on greece 2019.

Second post-review submission on Greece’s compliance with the UN Convention against Torture

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



Second post-review submission on Greece’s compliance with the UN Convention against Torture

 31 July 2019

Greek Helsinki Monitor regrets that, in the joint report submitted on 22 June 2019 to the Committee, it had correctly predicted what turned out to be indeed a troublesome outcome of the trial for the killing of 15-year old Alexis Gregoropoulos in December 2008. We wrote therein: It may not be surprising in view of all those developments that the police officers involved will effectively walk free” [full text appended below]. On 29 July 2019, the accomplice police officer was acquitted of the charges and was set free, while the police officer who shot Alexis Gregoropoulos was found guilty again for homicide with direct intent, as in the first instance trial, but this time his sentence was reduced from life imprisonment to imprisonment for 13 years, because of the acceptance of the mitigating circumstance that he had led a lawful life until the killing. As that police officer had already served almost 11 years and had worked for 5 years in prison, he was considered to have served his sentence and was released from prison on 30 July 2019.

In the old Penal Code, homicide with direct intent (Article 299) was punished only with life imprisonment. In the new Penal Code it is punished with life imprisonment or imprisonment for 10-15 years. The addition was necessary as the life imprisonment only sentence meant that the court had no possibility to decide on a sentence once it had convicted an individual for homicide with direct intent, which was considered to be unconstitutional and in violation of international treaties.

Concerning however the most crucial in this case extenuating circumstances (Article 84), in the old Penal Code one of them was that “the sentence is reduced (…) in cases where the court considers that there exist extenuating circumstances (…) (a) the perpetrator lived, until the time that the crime was committed, an honest, individual, family, professional and social life in general” [emphasis added]. In the new Penal Code this was replaced with “the sentence is reduced (…) in cases where extenuating circumstances apply (…): a)that the perpetrator lived lawfully, until the time that the crime was committed, a circumstance that does not exclude the existence of a previous conviction only for a minor misdemeanor” [emphasis added].

In the old Penal Code valid until 30 June 2019, the court had the discretion to consider and hence to possibly reject that extenuating circumstances applied. In the case of the trial for the killing of Alexis Gregoropoulos the first instance court considered and rejected a motion by the defense for the recognition of the extenuating circumstance of a prior honest, individual, family, professional and social life for the two perpetrators. Under the new Penal Code valid from 1 July 2019, the court has no longer such discretion but is bound by law to merely ascertain that there existed a prior lawful life, i.e. the absence of any conviction at all or the absence of any serious conviction when there was a prior conviction for a minor misdemeanor. In the case of the police officer convicted on appeal for the homicide with direct intent of Alexis Gregoropoulos the court was bound to merely ascertain that he had no prior convictions and thus to grant him the extenuating circumstance of prior lawful life.

Had the judgment been issued before 30 June 2019, that same court would have probably confirmed the rejection by the court of first instance of a motion by the defense for the recognition of the extenuating circumstance of a prior honest, individual, family, professional and social life. Greek case law shows that it is rare for an appeals court to overturn a rejection of an extenuating circumstance by a first instance court.

Hence, before 30 June 2019, the police officer convicted on appeal for the homicide with direct intent would have been sentenced again to life imprisonment and that would have been an irrevocable judgment. On the contrary, on 29 July 2019, once the court ascertained the existence of the extenuating circumstance of a prior lawful life, it could impose only a reduced sentence of imprisonment for 10-15 years, and chose to impose a sentence of 13 years.

The new extenuating circumstance of a prior lawful life to be ascertained by the courts is generally a positive development as it removes from the discretion of the court the evaluation of a possible extenuating circumstance of a prior honest, individual, family, professional and social life, which, as indicated by the Greek case law, was easier to be invoked in cases of “mainstream” individuals convicted for crimes, than in cases of minority or “marginal” individuals convicted for the same crimes. However, in the new Penal Code it should have been considered that all civil servants, both police officers and others, have by definition a lawful life prior to committing a crime, as it is required by law.

Hence, it is necessary that the Committee recommends to Greece that, for all crimes punished by Article 137A as well as for all violent crimes punished by other articles, including human trafficking, when they are committed by civil servants while they perform their functions, extenuating circumstances should not apply. The Committee should additionally perhaps recall that civil servants have an increased duty to uphold the law and when they commit such crimes they in effect compromise the state they work for, which in turn is the only liable to pay compensations to victims of such acts, compensations decided by administrative courts, whereas the actual perpetrators are exempted from paying such compensations.  


Appendix: Excerpt from the joint report to UN CAT submitted on 22 June 2019

The case of the killing of Alexis Gregoropoulos by police officers

As for the case of the killing of 15-year old Alexis Gregoropoulos in December 2008, the police officer who shot him was sentence to life and his accomplice to 10 years in prison, on 11 October 2010. The judgment of the trial on appeal was to be delivered on 19 June 2019, more than 10 years after the killing. In the meantime, the prosecutor has recommended the lowering of the charges for the perpetrator from homicide with direct intent to homicide with possible intent and the acquittal of his accomplice. Probably because the court was aware of the CAT’s interest in the case, on 19 June 2019 instead of issuing the verdict and imposing sentences, the case was adjourned for … 29 July 2019, in the middle of the court’s summer holiday season but after Greece’s review by CAT. In addition, by that time the new Penal Code will be enforced which anyway offers the possibility of more lenient judgments and sentencing. It may not be surprising in view of all those developments that the police officers involved will effectively walk free. The accomplice after serving 30 months in prison was released in October 2012 with restraining orders. Should the perpetrator’s life sentence be reduced to up to 15 years (the new maximum sentence), he will be set free with restraining orders too. GHM will in any case immediately inform the Committee on or after 29 July 2019.


 

 

 

29/07/2019: Post-review submission on Greece’s compliance with the UN Convention against Torture

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



Post-review submission on Greece’s compliance with the UN Convention against Torture

 29 July 2019

  1. Sentences for torture and other violations of human dignity

In her replies, Greece claimed that the sentences for torture were reduced in the new Penal Code from 5-20 years to 5-15 years only because of the horizontal reduction of the maximum sentence (except for the life sentence) from 20 years to 15 years. This was intentionally misleading.

In the Penal Code valid through 30 June 2019, the sentence for crimes under article 137A.1 (i.e. torture) was “imprisonment” without any numeric specification. That meant 5-20 years. In the Penal Code valid since 1 July 2019, there is only one change in the whole text of Article 137A.1: the phrase on sentence is now “imprisonment up to ten years.” That means 5-10 years. Had there not been such change, i.e. had the sentence for torture remained “imprisonment,” it would have meant 5-15 years, as the upper limit of imprisonment is now 15 years (instead of 20 years before). The Committee should recommend to Greece that Article 137A.1 should be amended back to the previous version calling for imprisonment without upper limit (i.e. for 5-15 years).

The Committee is requested to take into consideration that the sentence for aggravated torture (eg with the use of falaga, electroshock, etc.) in the old Article 137B was “imprisonment for at least 10 years” (hence 10-20 years) and the text has remained unchanged in the new Article 137A.2 (hence 10-15 years).

The most troubling element that led the one and only police officer convicted at first instance and on appeal for torture not to spend even one day in prison is the possibility to apply mitigating circumstances (e.g. no serious crime before and/or good behavior after committing torture) for the dramatic reduction of his sentence. If one such circumstance exists, the respective sentences mentioned above are reduced from 5-10 years to 1-6 years and from 10-15 years to 2-8 years. If two such circumstances co-exist, the respective sentences mentioned above are further reduced from 5-10 years to 6 months – 6 years and from 10-15 years to 1-8 years. This is Article 85 in the new Penal Code that is more favorable to the convicted than the previous Article 85 that did not allow for the accumulation of two reductions when there were two mitigating circumstances. In the aforementioned case where the ECtHR eventually found a violation by Greece for the inadequate low sentence (Sidiropoulos and Papakostas against Greece – app. 33349/10) the police officer convicted for the use of electroshock on two (young) persons taken into police station for alleged traffic violations, i.e. convicted for aggravated torture with an in principle sentence of imprisonment for at least ten years, was finally sentenced to 5 years which he was allowed to buy off for 5 euros per imprisonment day to be paid off in 36 instalments. There is only one remedy that the Committee is urged to recommend: for sentences in cases of convictions under Article 137A, Article 82 on mitigating circumstances should not apply in view of the gravity of these crimes.

Obviously the Committee should also ask for the amendment of Article 137A.5 on the definition of torture to make it compatible with the Convention (and the ECtHR case-law) also with the inclusion of rape. GHM also agrees with the recommendation of the Ombudsman that the other violations of human dignity punished under Article 137A.3 with sentences 3-5 years (and hence a short prescription of 5 years) become felonies (i.e. punished with more than 5 years) which will also mean that there will be a 15 –year prescription.

  2. Cassation of judgments for the benefit of the law

Greece, rightly so, presented to the Committee as a positive development the Supreme Court’s cassation of a domestic acquittal of persons accused for trafficking in human beings. In our joint report to the Committee we “advise the Committee to consider the very positive development in the execution of another ECtHR judgment in Chowdury and others v. Greece. The Supreme Court Prosecutor issued a press release on the 30 October 201833 (translated in English by Greek Helsinki Monitor – GHM) explaining that after the ECtHR judgment, a Deputy Prosecutor filed an application for the cassation for the benefit of the law of the judgment of the Mixed Jury Court of Patras, No. 75-128/30-7-2014 which declared innocent the accused of trafficking in human beings, in violation of Article 4(2) of the European Convention, “for wrong interpretation and wrong application of the provision of Article 323A of the Penal Code, and for lack of specific and detailed reasoning”. On 18 June 2019, the Supreme Court Penal Plenary with its Judgment 2/2019 accepted the application and annulled that domestic judgment.” We then stated that Greece should apply consistently the procedure of an application for cassation for the benefit of the law by the Supreme Court Prosecutor as a fundamental remedy to execute ECtHR judgments and Treaty Body Views so as to remove domestic judgments held by the ECtHR or Treaty Bodies to be in violation of the ECHR or the Treaties. We add here that this was not a unique application of that procedure by the Supreme Court. In July 2017, for example, the Supreme Court issued judgment 2/2017 of cassation for the benefit of the law of a first instance court judgment that had acquitted a swindler (Artemis Sorras) confirming his claim that he had 600 billion dollars with which debt of thousands of people could be paid. In the certainly not exhaustive Supreme Court website, one can find additional judgments (5/20025, 10/2005, 1/2008, 9/2008 and 1/2009) leading to cassation for the benefit of the law of lower court judgments or indictment chamber decisions. The Committee is therefore asked to urge Greece to request from the Supreme Court the cassation of judgments or other judicial decisions that caused the impunity which in turn led to the finding of violations for torture or other violations of human dignity or violations for human trafficking by the ECtHR or the Human Rights Committee.

3. Compensation for victims vindicated by the Human Rights Committee

First, it is important to request that the Committee takes note that the Supreme Court ruled that the European Court of Human Rights judgments and by analogy the Human Rights Committee views constitute res judicata. However, in one case that the acts had not become time-barred at the time of the HRCttee views, the case was reopened and led to a trial but the local court rejected the res judicata, dismissed as irrelevant the views, and found the defendant mayor and deputy mayors of Patras innocent of the eviction of the Georgopoulos Roma family.

Secondly, in our joint report, we have provided information about the three cases that led to Human Rights Committee views in favor of Roma who had been ill-treated or forcefully evicted (Kalamiotis, Georgopoulos and Katsaris). Greece was asked to provide them inter alia with adequate compensation through a friendly settlement but Greece refused it. We were shocked to hear the Greek delegation claim before CAT that for such compensation, in addition to seeking it through administrative courts, there is a possibility for friendly settlements through the Legal Council of State that the representative of the authors of the communication had not pursued. This was a slander against Greek Helsinki Monitor that was the representative in all three cases (falsely) accused to have ignored a procedure favorable to the authors.

The Committee should bear with GHM that will present here relevant details and attach a related document. In the “Follow-up progress report on individual Communications, adopted by the Committee at its 112th session (7-31 October 2014)” (where Greece has been graded “C1” for (absence of) remedies and non-repetition in all three cases) it is mentioned that Greece for the cases of Kalamiotis stated that “The author could file an application for compensation with the relevant administrative tribunal, under article 105 of the Introductory Law of the Civil Code.” For the case of Katsaris Greece stated again that “An action for damages before the administrative courts, based on the Committee’s findings, would be the most appropriate remedy for the author in the circumstances.” For the case of Georgopoulos, Greece expressly denied the possibility of a friendly settlement through the Legal Council of State following a formal application by GHM on behalf of the authors, stating that “The means and processes of reparation must be determined under domestic law. In the present case, the Legal Council of the State determined that it lacked jurisdiction to award compensation for the actions of the Municipality of Patras.”

In fact, in the 22 October 2013 submission of Greece [Annex] the signatory as “Representative for the Greek Government” was indeed “Senior Advisor to the Legal Council of StateIoannis Bakopoulos who stated that “In all three cases the adequate compensation could be sought from the authors by addressing the competent administrative Tribunal through an action for compensation according to the provision of article 105 of the Introductory Law of the Civil Code.”

GHM had also stated specifically in its 6 January 2014 reply to Greece’s comments on the follow-up procedure that “the Authors suggest again that the Human Rights Committee urges the State party to follow the example of the compensation agreement between the State party and the author during the implementation of the Human Rights Committee’s Views in the case Bodrozic v. Serbia and Montenegro, Communication Nº 1180/2003 and seek compensation agreements with the authors in the three cases for which provision of compensation is still pending.”

Finally, on 23 April 2017, GHM wrote to then General Secretary for Human Rights Maria Yannakaki (letter with protocol number of her office 318/24-4-2017) asking her to mediate so that the Greek government pays adequate compensation to the Roma authors in these three cases. She never replied…

This is why GHM was appalled to hear during the Committee’s review Greece claiming that GHM had ignored the possibility of friendly settlements via the Legal Council of State when it had indeed expressly sought them only to be rejected by the Legal Council of State which referred GHM to the administrative courts.

Hence, the Committee is requested again to ask Greece to provide effective remedy including adequate compensation to Roma people victims of violence and discrimination, according to HRCttee Views on Katsaris, Kalamiotis and Georgopoulos and others cases though the friendly settlement procedure Greece has stated to be available.

4. Apologies to the vindicated victims of torture and other violations of human dignity

As we wrote in the joint report, the CoE Committee of Ministers last examined the Makaratzis group of cases in December 2018 and issued a decision in which it “welcomed the authorities’ intention to request the heads of the services involved in torture and other forms of ill-treatment to issue written apologies to the applicants; invited the authorities to inform the Committee by 1 September 2019 of any further development.” A month before that deadline, GHM that represents the large majority of the applicants can ascertain that no such apology has been received by any of them. In the report by the Greek Ombudsman as National Mechanism for the Investigation of Arbitrary Incidents published in June 2019 and submitted to your Committee by GHM it is stated that With regard to the old pending, and already statute-barred cases, the Mechanism is working to propose as a general measure of compliance to the Government that a written expression of apology be issued by the head of the administration of the competent department, that could work both as a moral compensation for the victim and as a practical commitment by the administration that there will be no repetition of similar irregularities in the disciplinary process in the future.”  We therefore urge the Committee to ask Greece to promptly issue written expressions of apology to those who have been vindicated by ECtHR judgments and HRCttee views.                

  1. On Aghia Varvara missing Albanian Roma street children

Greece claimed that they had returned to the Albanian government 18 of the 502 missing “Aghia Varvara” Albanian Roma street children. As the local-court-recognized civil claimant in the related criminal investigation, GHM would like to ascertain that such information is most likely false. First, because it was never included, let alone documented, in any report by Greece. Secondly because in the information on this case that the Albanian authorities have provided to two Albanian NGOs cooperating with GHM there is absolutely no reference to such action from the Greek authorities. This is why the Committee is requested to ask Greek authorities to promptly create an effective mechanism to investigate these cases in order to establish the whereabouts of the missing children, in cooperation with the Ombudsmen of both countries and relevant civil society organizations; and to acknowledge the failures that led to impunity and the disappearances of a very large number of at the time children and offer a public apology to the victims’ families.

6. Alleged judgments on trials on torture

Greece claimed in its oral presentation to the Committee that there have been five convictions in trials for torture. GHM suspects that they concern inter alia one conviction to eight years at first instance in 2015 for torture of a person with mental disabilities which is pending on appeal with the police officers convicted set free in the meantime. Also, they could concern convictions for (severe) bodily harm but not for torture even if, as in one very recent case, the youth bullied by those convicted eventually committed suicide. The Committee should ask Greece to provide and make public relevant documentation.

7. Restraints in psychiatric institutions

Greece claimed that restraints in psychiatric institutions are illegal; yet they are reported from time to time, even by CPT quoted in our joint report. As recently as on 22 July 2019, it was reported in Peloponnisos that in the notorious Child Care Center (KEPEP) of Lehaina institution a child’s legs were strapped to his wheelchair. The Committee should ask Greece to stop all uses of restraints under any circumstances.

8. Criminalization of solidarity with migrants and refugees

The Committee is requested to take into consideration, as relevant also for Greece, the 26 July 2019 joint appeal of 101 NGOs: “The EU must stop the criminalization of solidarity with migrants and refugees.” The most crucial paragraph in that statement reads: “Independent judges have found no sound evidence for convictions in most of these cases. This suggests that prosecutions are often being politically used to deter solidarity and create a hostile environment for migrants. Policing solidarity further involves suspicion, intimidation, harassment and disciplining against civil society, with long-term consequences for the rule of law, democratic accountability, social cohesion, freedom of association and fundamental rights in the EU. These misguided investigations fuel the negative image of migrants as criminals and perpetuate the perception of chaos at Europe’s borders.”