06/12/2017: ECtHR Grand Chamber hearing in a Sharia case with GHM written submission

Grand Chamber hearing in a case concerning the application
of Islamic religious (Sharia) law to an inheritance dispute

The European Court of Human Rights is holding a Grand Chamber hearing today Wednesday 6 December 2017 at 9.15 a.m. in the case of Molla Sali v. Greece (application no. 20452/14). The case concerns the application by the Greek courts of Islamic religious (Sharia) law to a dispute concerning inheritance rights over the estate of the late husband of Ms Molla Sali, a Greek national belonging to the country’s Muslim minority. (…)

The following organisations were granted leave to intervene in the written proceedings as third parties: Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), Christian Concern and Hellenic League for Human Rights.

The ECtHR press release is available here.

GHM‘s written submission follows.




Greek lawyer latest to be assaulted by far right


On November 1, Evgenia Kouniaki stepped off an electric bus and headed towards the courthouse when she saw a mob of black-clad Golden Dawn members running in her direction.

Within moments, the men were pounding a fellow passenger with a club. When the Greek lawyer attempted to intervene and yell at the assailants, one punched her in the face several times.

She had been confronted by members of the neo-fascist party twice before, but on this occasion was sent into a state of shock as she was beaten.

Nearby, the party was on trial over allegations of being a criminal organisation.

The group had been passing out flyers to commemorate the deaths of two party members, who were allegedly killed by anti-fascists in 2013.

“I’m sure that I was attacked because I told them to stop … and I’m sure the fascist members of Golden Dawn recognised me from the court,” said Kouniaki, who is part of a legal team for a group of Egyptian fishermen attacked by a Golden Dawn squad in Perama, an area near Athens, in 2012.

Sitting in her office in Exarchia, a central Athens neighbourhood, Kouniaki recalled the attack.

“I saw they were trying to enter the [bus] to find a man … after a while, they started to enter, and I started to yell ‘stop, stop’,” she told Al Jazeera.

Although Kouniaki was puzzled by the attack – she did not hear the man provoke the far-rightists and he did not subsequently speak out in the media – she has since concluded that they “wanted to send a message”.

After the incident ended, the men walked off, passing the police without being stopped.

Kouniaki recognised her attackers as members of Golden Dawn’s Piraeus branch; she has since filed a complaint.

By the time of publication, the Greek police had not replied to Al Jazeera’s request for a comment.

In a statement published the following day, Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos said he “strongly condemn[s] every act of violence” without referencing the attack on Kouniaki.

It was the latest in a string of similar attacks in Greece, which have sparked fears of a resurgence in far-right violence.

Golden Dawn currently has 16 seats in the Hellenic Parliament and three in the European Parliament. While it is not the only far-right group, it has a reputation for carrying out vigilante attacks.


On November 26, a group of Greek football fans attacked Pakistani immigrants as they celebrated the birth of Prophet Muhammad in central Athens’ Omonia Square. Police fired tear gas and sound grenades to disperse the crowd.

Golden Dawn has 16 seats in Greece’s parliament [Aggelos Barai/SOOC/Al Jazeera]

Earlier this month, a far-right group targeted the house of Amir, an 11-year-old Afghan boy who had been blocked from carrying a Greek flag during a school parade in October.

A neo-Nazi vigilante organisation calling itself Crypteia, a reference to a group of ancient Spartans infamous for attacking slaves, claimed responsibility for the attack on the boy’s home.

Crypteia is believed to be a splinter group that broke away from the Golden Dawn, which has toned down its street-level violence in recent years owing to the ongoing trial of 69 of its members accused of operating a criminal organisation.

After smashing windows and throwing rocks and beer bottles at the home, they left behind a note that read: “Go back to your village. Leave.”

Last month, a group of men surrounded and attacked a pair of Pakistani migrant labourers in a field in Aspropyrgos, an industrial area near the Greek capital of Athens.

Vakas Hussein and Ashfak Mahmoud, the victims of that attack, were subsequently hospitalised for stab wounds and injuries sustained from blows with iron rods to their heads and bodies.

Speaking to Greek media, Mahmoud later recalled his attackers shouting racist taunts and threatening to set them ablaze. Speaking to Greece’s 24/7 News at the time, he said: “They said they would burn me alive.”


In March, a gang of Golden Dawn members brutally beat Alexis Lazaras, a 24-year-old university student, near the party headquarters in an Athens suburb.

Members of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party have campaigned against Muslim refugees in Greece [Aggelos Barai/SOOC/Al Jazeera]

The attack is suspected to be retribution for an anti-fascist action that saw masked anarchists smash the windows of the party’s main headquarters earlier that day, though there has been no indication that Lazaras had any connection to that incident.

On November 8, a criminal court in Athens delivered a guilty verdict to Golden Dawn member Christos Zervos for causing serious bodily injury over the attack on Lazaras. His sentence was suspended pending appeal.

Far-right attacks on refugees and migrants on Greek islands, such as Chios and Samos, have also become part and parcel of life for asylum seekers since the mass influx of refugees to Europe started in 2015.

Seraphim Seferiades, a politics professor at the Panteion University in Athens, explained that the recent uptick should raise red flags.

He argued that the government, currently led by the leftist Syriza party, has failed to provide an alternative to growing xenophobia and disillusionment with the status quo.

“As long as there is no alternative from the left, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Golden Dawn sought to fill the void. We’ve been seeing it all over Europe,” he said.

Syriza came to power in January 2015 after campaigning on a left-wing programme, but it has drawn criticism for reneging on promises to end austerity and to support refugees and migrants uprooted by war and economic devastation.

Seferiades said Syriza’s about-face “has created a gap, and any demagogue who comes along and is backed up by considerable resources could fill that role”.


Thanasis Kampagiannis, a lawyer in the Golden Dawn trial, has monitored the far-right organisation and others like it for years. “Golden Dawn is a neo-Nazi organisation, and it models itself off Hitler’s battalions,” he told Al Jazeera.

In October 2012, the United Nations refugee agency said that 87 racist attacks had been recorded between January and September of that year. Often wearing Golden Dawn insignia, the attackers targeted refugees and undocumented migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and elsewhere.

Yet, the party was put on trial after one of its members killed anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas in September 2013. Since then, the number of racist and far-right attacks in Greece has sharply decreased.

“The number of attacks decreasing is beyond doubt… and this shows that the racist attacks we experienced in 2012 and 2013 were organised by Golden Dawn,” he argued.

“But this doesn’t mean we don’t still have fascist attacks, and this mainly has to do with the fact that Golden Dawn is not capable of reform. It cannot stop [carrying out attacks], even if it needs to decrease its violence.”

Back in her office, Kouniaki said she expected violence from Golden Dawn but was nonetheless stunned by the attack.

“I was shocked because the reality is that I didn’t believe it could happen outside of the court where they are on trial,” she said.

She was first threatened by Golden Dawn supporters in 2010 in Agios Panteleimonas, an area in Athens. After she arrived in the neighbourhood to find a group of Afghan refugees sitting bloodied on the road after being attacked, a throng of party supporters hurled threats in her direction.

Two years later, while making her way home after a political rally, she encountered a group of men she suspects were Golden Dawn members beating a Bangladeshi immigrant at a metro station. When she tried to intervene, they dragged her off and threw her to the pavement.

For her part, Kouniaki said she will not be deterred by violence or threats.

“This is what Golden Dawn wants in society: People to fear expressing their ideas and to not stand with immigrants and refugees … But it is a political duty.”

SOURCE: Al-Jazeera News

Μαρία Γιαννακάκη και άλλοι περιφρονούν δικαστικές αποφάσεις ΟΗΕ για αποζημίωση Ρομά θυμάτων αστυνομικής βίας και έξωσης

Η Μαρία Γιαννακάκη απαξίωσε να απαντήσει στην ακόλουθη επιστολή (που προτοκλλήθκε από τη γραμματεία της με Αριθμό Πρωτοκόλλου 318-24/04/2017 και η Ελλάδα συνεχίζει να περιφρονεί την υποχρέωσή της να αποζημιώσει τους Ρομά θύματα αστυνομικής βίας και έξωσης σε εκτέλεση καταδικαστικών αποφάσεων του ΟΗΕ.

Τ.Θ. 60820, 15304 Γλυκά Νερά, Τηλ. 2103472259 Fax: 2106018760
email: panayotedimitras@gmail.com ιστοσελίδα: https://greekhelsinki.wordpress.com

Κυρία Μαρία Γιαννακάκη
Γενική Γραμματέα Ανθρώπινων Δικαιωμάτων

 Θέμα: Χορήγηση αποζημίωσης για αποφάσεις Επιτροπής Ανθρώπινων Δικαιωμάτων ΟΗΕ

23 Απριλίου 2017

Κυρία Γενική Γραμματέα

Σας αποστέλλουμε συνημμένα τις τρεις αποφάσεις («Διαπιστώσεις») της Επιτροπής Ανθρώπινων Δικαιωμάτων ΟΗΕ στις προσφυγές Ρομά Κατσαρής κατά Ελλάδας, Καλαμιώτης κατά Ελλάδας και οικογένεια Γεωργόπουλου κατά Ελλάδας. Μετά τη διαπίστωση παραβιάσεων του Συμφώνου η Επιτροπή ζήτησε από την Ελλάδα να χορηγήσει «ικανοποιητική αποζημίωση» στα ζημιωθέντα άτομα, καθώς, όπως γνωρίζετε, αντίθετα με το ΕΔΔΑ, δεν έχει συμβατική αρμοδιότητα να καθορίζει το ύψος αυτών των αποζημιώσεων. Ζήτησε επίσης «να δημοσιεύσει τις Διαπιστώσεις».

Δυστυχώς, οι προηγούμενες κυβερνήσεις, προβάλλοντας απαράδεκτους προσχηματικούς λόγους, αρνούνταν να συμφωνήσουν στη χορήγηση αποζημιώσεων οι οποίες είχαμε προτείνει να είναι ανάλογες με εκείνες που έχει περιλάβει το ΕΔΔΑ σε αντίστοιχες αποφάσεις. Παράλληλα, οι Διαπιστώσεις για τις προσφυγές αυτές (όπως και για άλλες στο ίδιο όργανο) δεν υπάρχουν πουθενά δημοσιευμένες.

Γνωρίζοντας τις ευαισθησίες σας στα θέματα της εκτέλεσης των διεθνών (ημι-)δικαστικών αποφάσεων καθώς στα δικαιώματα των Ρομά (τους δύο από τους οποίους –Κατσαρή και Καλαμιώτη- κατοίκους του καταυλισμού Χαλανδρίου έχετε άλλωστε άμεσα υποστηρίξει και ενώπιον της δικαιοσύνης), παρακαλούμε να κάνετε τις απαραίτητες ενέργειες ώστε να χορηγηθούν «ικανοποιητικές αποζημιώσεις» για το ύψος των οποίων είμαστε σίγουροι πως εύκολα θα συμφωνήσουμε. Επίσης, παρακαλούμε να φροντίσετε για άμεση δημοσίευση των Διαπιστώσεων από το Νομικό Συμβούλιο του Κράτους (όπως έκανε στο παρελθόν αλλά στη συνέχεια σταμάτησε να το κάνει) ή/και από τον ιστότοπο του Υπουργείου Δικαιοσύνης.

Προκειμένου να ενημερώσουμε την Επιτροπή Ανθρώπινων Δικαιωμάτων ΟΗΕ παρακαλούμε να έχουμε την απάντησή σας μέχρι τις 30 Μαΐου 2017.

Με τιμή


Παναγιώτης Δημητράς
Εκπρόσωπος ΕΠΣΕ

HRC Views_Katsaris_30-7-2012_greek


georgopoulos v greece views 2010 greek

24/11/2017: Presentation to the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on the execution of Bekir-Ousta and others group of cases against Greece and of House of Macedonian Civilization and others against Greece

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

Presentation to the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on the execution of
Bekir-Ousta and others group of cases against Greece (Application No. 35151/05)
and of
House of Macedonian Civilization and others against Greece (Application No. 1295/10)

24 November 2017

DPY-_vzXcAAS3HAGreek Helsinki Monitor‘s Panayote Dimitras (in the middle) making the presentation, with Kevin Steeves on his right and Piers Gardner and Vitalia Lebid on his left


1. Summary

Greece’s failure to execute the ECtHR judgments finding violations of the freedom of association of three ethnic Turkish and one ethnic Macedonian associations reflects the fact that Greece is the only European country whose administrative and judicial authorities do not recognize (or even simply acknowledge) the existence of the ethno-national (Turkish and Macedonian) minorities. If these associations, or other Turkish or Macedonian associations, (re-)register as a measure of execution of these judgments, this will be tantamount to a recognition (or acknowledgment) of the existence of these two ethno-national (Turkish and Macedonian) minorities, and hence of reversal of Greek policy.

2. Greek courts deny the existence of ethno-national Turkish and Macedonian minorities

Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) has documented this interpretation of the Greek courts’ stance, by submitting in 2017 to the Committee of Ministers (CM) two recent judgments of domestic courts rejecting registration of a new ethnic Turkish association, the Cultural Association of Turkish Women in the Prefecture of Xanthi, and of the, twice successful before the ECtHR, House of Macedonian Civilization. Their registration was rejected expressly because, according to the domestic courts, there is no “structured Turkish minority” and no Macedonian nation, no Macedonian culture, no Macedonian language, and no Macedonian minority.”

Additionally, in the September 2017 judgment for the House of Macedonian Civilization, the domestic court argued that the ECtHR judgments do not penetrate the Greek legal order and hence cannot annul the domestic court judgments. It added that the previous domestic judgments were issued not only because the aims of the association were a threat to public order and security but also “to protect the rights and freedoms of others, protected by Article 8 ECHR,” which rights, the Florina court claimed, were not taken into consideration by the ECtHR. The Florina court finally stated that the situation concerns a sensitive issue of cultural identity and is thus similar to the ban to wear the burqua that the ECtHR upheld in S.A.S. v. France.

The CM is requested to note that the Greek Government did not comment on the 16 September 2017 GHM submission on these cases and has to date not commented on the subsequent 5 November 2017 GHM submission, where the aforementioned arguments were first made by GHM.

3. The true value of the recently introduced “amendments” allowing the reopening of the cases

Great emphasis was put by Greece on the amendments allowing the reopening of the cases adjudicated by the ECtHR adopted by Parliament on 13 October 2017. In fact, of greater importance for that examination is the debate that preceded the adoption and the addition to those amendments of clauses that practically exclude the reopening of the cases on the associations of the ethno-national (Turksih and Macedonian) minorities after successful ECtHR judgments.

The CM is requested to compare the texts of the amendments finally adopted by the Greek Parliament on 13 October 2017 as submitted on 23 October 2017 to the CM by the Greek Government with the amendments initially tabled before the Greek Parliament but withdrawn because of widespread opposition as submitted on 11 September 2017 to the CM by the Greek Government. In the initial amendments, the admissibility of an application of revocation or amendment following an ECtHR judgment was binding for the domestic courts, which then had to examine the merits of the application. In the finally adopted legislative provisions, the admissibility of an application of revocation or amendment following an ECtHR judgment to be issued in the future is no longer binding but is “subject to the terms and restrictions provided in the relevant provisions of ECHR concerning the protection of national security, public order, the prevention of crime, the protection of health or morals and the protection of rights and freedoms of others.” Additionally, for ECtHR judgments issued in the past, such application has to also satisfy “the restrictions of article 11 par. 2. of the ECHR and the other provisions of ECHR, as well as international conventions.” [sic – they mean international treaties (συνθήκες) and imply the Treaty of Lausanne].

During the parliamentary debate, it had become clear that, except for the senior government partner SYRIZA, no other party was willing to vote for the initially tabled amendments unless the restrictions mentioned above were added. Then all major non-extremist political parties voted in favour of the amendments with the notable and historical first ever dissent from the party lines by all four “Muslim” (i.e. Turkish) minority MPs who voted against the amendments because they considered them ostensible pretexts.

The CM is aware that the restrictions introduced by the Greek legislator had been taken into consideration by the ECtHR when the latter issued the five judgments for the three Turkish and, twice, for the one Macedonian associations. The ECtHR had then rejected these restrictions which were included in the Greek Government’s observations. Now the Greek Government and the Greek Parliament introduced them in the legislation on the possible re-examination of these cases so that domestic courts, in addition to their persistent refusal to register Turkish and Macedonian minority associations, are empowered with a legal provision to consider inadmissible such applications for revocation.

The CM is therefore requested to reject the Greek Government’s conclusion: “Il s’agit d’une évolution importante de la législation interne qui répond aux demandes du Comité des Ministres (CM/Del/Dec(2017)1294/H46-12 et CM/Del/Dec(2017)1280/H46-13), dans la mesure où elle permet la réouverture devant les juridictions helléniques et l’examen à la lumière des constats de la CEDH des demandes d’enregistrement des associations des requérants.”

The CM is urged to conclude that, on the contrary, this development of the legislation does not respond to the demands of the CM as it effectively does not allow the re-examination by the Greek courts of the applications for registration of the applicants’ associations. The CM is also requested to recall that the Greek Government has failed to execute for 20 years the House of Macedonian Civilization judgments and for 10 years the three Turkish associations judgments in the Bekir Ousta group of cases. The CM is also requested to recall that 2 years ago the ECtHR decided not to examine new applications by the three Turkish associations as long as the CM is examining the (non-)execution of the corresponding 2008 judgments. Finally, the CM should take into consideration that during that 20-year period, several UN Treaty Bodies and Council of Europe institutions like the Commissioner for Human Rights and Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have issued recommendations asking Greece to register these minority associations and/or recognize the corresponding ethnic Turkish and Macedonian minorities: Greece has opted to ignore all these recommendations.

4. Concluding recommendations

The CM is requested to consider that the Greek Government may be in effect violating Article 18 ECHR, after the introduction in domestic legislation of restrictions included in Article 11 ECHR that the ECtHR has ruled that they cannot apply in the cases of the minority associations, with the sole purpose to prevent the execution of the judgments. The abusive introduction in domestic legislation of these restrictions for reasons of state or to safeguard ethnic majority political tendencies against ethnic minority actors amounts to a destruction of the fundamental freedom of association. Since the CM does not have the competence to examine such claim and in view of the decades-long obstinacy of Greece not to execute these judgments, coupled only by its adamant refusal to recognize the existence of ethnic minorities in its territory, a unique case among Council of Europe member states, the CM is requested to: 

  1. join the examination of the Bekir Ousta group of cases with the House of Macedonian Civilization case, 
  1. ask Greece to provide explanations for the domestic court decisions not to register the new Cultural Association of Turkish Women in the Prefecture of Xanthi and, for a third time [!!], the House of Macedonian Civilization, 
  1. ask Greece to provide explanations for the amendments adopted with restrictions that appear to provide a legal basis to reject the reopening of the cases of the minority associations, 
  1. urge Greece to change the procedure for registration of associations so as not to depend on judgments by domestic courts that appear reluctant to register ethnic Turkish and Macedonian associations, and 
  1. serve formal notice on Greece of its intention, at a future meeting in 2018, to issue an interim resolution that Greece has failed to fulfil its obligation under Article 46§1 by non-registering these five minority associations, which is an indication of violation of Article 18 ECHR, in which resolution the CM will recommend appropriate actions.