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Migration and Struggle in Greece

Posts Tagged ‘Amnesty International’

Amnesty International: Further forced evictions leave large numbers homeless

Posted by clandestina on 23 July 2009

source

Amnesty International

Public Statement

AI Index: EUR 25/008/2009

22 July 2009

Greece: Further forced evictions leave large numbers homeless

Amnesty International is again calling on the Greek authorities to ensure that individuals made homeless following forced evictions are provided with suitable alternative accommodation, in line with the country’s international obligations.

According to reports, the latest incident started early in the morning of 20 July 2009 and was completed on 21 July 2009. The Greek police evicted around 100 individuals who had been living in the Old Appeal Court of Athens. No alternative accommodation was reportedly provided to those living in the disused courthouse either before or after the eviction. There are also reports that the remaining migrants living at the courthouse did not receive appropriate notification of the impending eviction by the police.

Around 600 persons, including irregular migrants and potentially asylum-seekers, had lived for the last three years in the disused courthouse in Sokratous street in squalid conditions with no water, electricity or proper sanitation. Over the past two months the Greek authorities had been making attempts to evict them from the building. The 600 inhabitants had refused to move, claiming they had no alternative accommodation. At the time of their eviction the number of those remaining there had been reduced to around 100 people, following a series of sweep operations by the police in the centre of Athens which led to many of those living in the courthouse being arrested for having no proof of their legal right to remain in Greece.

According to reports the police arrested only a few of those evicted, as most had left the building the night before and dispersed around the centre of Athens. Fears have been expressed by local non-governmental organisations that many of those evicted were subsequently arrested in sweep operations conducted by the police in the centre of Athens on 20 and 21 July and that those with no documents confirming their legal right to stay are likely to be detained and deported.

On 9 May 2009, five migrants were injured after members of a far-right group tried to storm the courthouse. Some human rights activists were also lightly injured during the attack. There were reports that although the police were present, they did not take action to prevent the attacks or protect those under the attack.

These events follow the eviction of around 300 migrants and asylum-seekers from their makeshift homes in Patras on 12 July 2009. At that time Amnesty International expressed concern that around 100 individuals were left homeless as a result, living in fields close to Patras without shelter, or access to water, sanitation and medical assistance. Among those left unprotected were said to be a small number of unaccompanied minors.

International law prohibits forced evictions. No one should be evicted without adequate notice, prior consultation, due process of law including access to legal remedies, and provision of adequate alternative accommodation. Forced evictions violate a range of international and regional human rights treaties and standards, which protect the right to adequate housing, most notably the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Greece is a party.

Evictions may only be carried out as a last resort, once all other feasible alternatives have been explored, and only when all appropriate procedural protections are in place. All persons, irrespective of their legal status, must be guaranteed protection against forced evictions.

For further information about Amnesty International’s concerns about the asylum system and the treatment of asylum seekers and migrants in Greece see:

Greece: Amnesty International condemns forced evictions in Patras,AI Index: EUR 25/007/2009

Through the Demand Dignity campaign, launched in May 2009, Amnesty International is calling on governments globally to take all necessary measures, including the adoption of laws and policies that comply with international human rights law, to prohibit and prevent forced evictions.

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Greece: Amnesty International condemns forced evictions in Patras

Posted by clandestina on 17 July 2009

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

PUBLIC STATEMENT

16 July 2009

AI Index: EUR 25/007/2009

Greece: Amnesty International condemns forced evictions in Patras

Amnesty International is calling on the Greek government to ensure that around 100 people who became homeless after being forcibly evicted from their makeshift homes in Patras on 12 July 2009 are provided with immediate emergency relief, including shelter, water and access to medical assistance. The government should also ensure that all victims of the forced eviction are guaranteed the right to an effective remedy and receive adequate alternative accommodation and compensation.

In the context of its long standing concerns that the treatment of irregular migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees in Greece violates international standards, Amnesty International is also urging the authorities to provide access to fair and satisfactory asylum procedures to the individuals evicted from the campsite and those arrested during and following the operation who wish to apply for asylum including full procedural safeguards.

Amnesty International also calls the authorities to ensure that the deportation procedures initiated against the irregular migrants arrested during and following the eviction operation are in accordance with due process of law and include procedural safeguards, including the ability to challenge individually the decision to deport; access to competent interpretation services and legal counsel; and access to a review, ideally a judicial review, of a negative decision.

The campsite in Patras has been occupied for some 13 years, most recently by approximately 300 people of Afghani origin including asylum-seekers and irregular migrants. A significant number of these individuals were minors, many of whom were unaccompanied. In breach of international law, people were forcibly evicted from their homes without adequate notice, any prior consultation with the community, due process of law including access to legal remedies, and provision of adequate alternative accommodation for many of those who were evicted. Forced evictions violate a range of international and regional human rights standards to which Greece is a party, including the right to adequate housing. Evictions may only be carried out as a last resort, once all other feasible alternatives have been explored, and only when all appropriate procedural protections are in place. All persons, irrespective of their legal status, must be guaranteed protection against forced evictions.

The afternoon before the evictions officers from the Patras police force are said to have orally informed some of the individuals living at the campsite that their homes would be demolished the following day, but no official notice of the order was given. The makeshift dwellings were demolished from 5.30am on 12 July in an operation carried out by the county administration, the planning authorities and the police. According to reports many people were not provided with adequate time to remove all their belongings and that day the authorities also refused to show the order of demolition to lawyers representing a non-governmental organization working for the rights of refugees and migrants in the city of Patras. Thus, many people lost their belongings as a result of the demolition and also of a fire that broke out during the demolition.

Around 200 people were present at the time of the evictions, as some of those affected including unaccompanied minors were said to have left the campsite the night before. According to information from the Achaias Police Directorate, in the context of the demolition operation conducted on 12 July 2009, the police documented 45 unaccompanied minors of Afghani origin who were later sent to the special reception centre for minors in the town of Konitsa. Seventeen more minors of Afghani origin subsequently presented themselves at the Patras police station in the days following the eviction, and will be transferred to minors’ reception centres in the north of Greece;

The Police Directorate also documented several asylum-seekers of Afghani origin holding documentation proving they had applied for asylum. This number included 23 people who stated that they were homeless and who were subsequently provided with accommodation in local hotels; 15 people of Afghani origin with no papers who were arrested and detained as irregular migrants; and 14 more migrants from various African countries with no papers who were arrested and detained during the same day in different police operations. For all of those arrested, deportation procedures have been initiated.

Currently, however, there are reported to be some 80 to 100 individuals evicted from the campsite who are homeless and living in fields close to Patras without shelter or access to water, sanitation and medical assistance. Among those left unprotected are said to be a small number of unaccompanied minors. Under international human rights standards, Greece is obligated to ensure that evictions do not result in individuals becoming homeless or vulnerable to violations of other human rights.

Early last year, Amnesty International had expressed concern over the welfare of a large number of individuals then living at the Patras campsite when they were threatened with eviction following a decision by the planning authorities to demolish their makeshift homes in December 2007. The evictions did not take place at that time as the planning authorities accepted an appeal lodged against the order of demolition.

The current operation comes against the backdrop of a series of moves by the Greek police across the country in the past few months which have seen many irregular migrants arrested, detained and deported back to their countries of origin. In recent months the Patras police have reportedly carried out three such operations at the site where the demolition took place, arresting between 40 and 50 people each time. As a result the number of those living at the site is said to have fallen from a rough estimate of 500 people in May this year to the 300 individuals said to have been living there prior to the evictions.

Amnesty International is requesting additional information on the eviction from the Greek government including on what measures the government will take to ensure that all those who were forcibly evicted are guaranteed their right to an effective remedy, including adequate alternative accommodation and compensation for all losses. Amnesty International is also urging the Greek authorities to ensure that the reported 80 to 100 people left without shelter are provided with emergency relief, including shelter, access to water and medical assistance. Specific measures should be taken to identify and protect the unaccompanied minors said to be among this number.

Furthermore, Amnesty International reiterates its position that the Greek authorities should only ever detain migrants as a measure of last resort, after justifying in each individual case that it is a necessary and proportionate measure that conforms with international law. Alternative non-custodial measures should be the preferred solution and should always be considered before resorting to detention. Recognized refugees and migrants with a regular status should never have their rights to liberty or freedom of movement restricted for immigration purposes.

For further information about Amnesty International’s concerns about the asylum system and the treatment of asylum seekers and migrants in Greece see:

Greece: Proposed ch…, AI Index: EUR 25/005/2009

Greece: Amnesty Int…, AI Index: EUR 25/006/2009

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Amnesty International: Lives in danger as European governments deny refugees protection

Posted by clandestina on 22 June 2009

SOURCE

Lives in danger as European governments deny refugees protection

19 June 2009

Governments in Europe are putting lives at risk by denying refugees protection, Amnesty International warned on Saturday.

“Refugees are risking their lives to find safety only to be turned away when they reach Europe,” said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.

“Governments must stop putting lives in danger and start meeting their international obligations to protect these vulnerable people.”

Amnesty International’s call for government action comes on World Refugee Day, which is held on 20 June every year. World Refugee Day sees thousands of organizations in hundreds of countries coming together to focus global attention on the plight of refugees and the causes of their exile.

Countries at Europe’s border are showing a flagrant disregard for their international obligations towards refugees:

  • Italy is intercepting refugees in international waters and physically transporting them, without assessing their protection needs, to Libya, where migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees are at risk of ill-treatment and forcible return to countries where they risk serious human rights abuses.
  • Greece pushes back people at its land border and sea borders with Turkey without first assessing their asylum claims. For those that do enter the country there are many legal obstacles for refugees to gain protection.
  • Spain’s bilateral agreements with several countries in Africa are used to justify the arbitrary arrest, detention and deportation of asylum-seekers and migrants in these countries.
  • Turkey continues not to recognise people from outside Europe as refugees, meaning thousands of people are denied the protection they need.

On World Refugee Day, Amnesty International warned EU states that their actions are undermining the protection of refugees not only in their own countries but also across the world, by sending a dangerous message on the treatment of refugees.

The organization said that all countries must meet their obligations towards refugees and asylum-seekers not only within their own borders but wherever they exercise effective control.

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Greece: Amnesty International reiterates its serious concerns about detention conditions for asylum seekers

Posted by clandestina on 13 June 2009

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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

PUBLIC STATEMENT

12 June 2009

AI Index: EUR 25/006/2009

Greece: Amnesty International reiterates its serious concerns about detention conditions for asylum seekers following ruling of the European Court of Human Rights

Amnesty International reiterates it serious concerns about the detention conditions for asylum seekers in Greece and the failings of the asylum procedures following the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on the case of S.D. v. Greece(Application No. 53541/07) on 11 June 2009.

The applicant, a Turkish national who was a journalist applied for asylum in Greece on 12 July 2007. He was arrested, detained for two months in the holding facilities of Soufli and Petrou Ralli while deportation proceedings were initiated against him by the authorities. He alleged that his treatment by the authorities violated his rights to be free from torture and inhuman and degrading treatment, his right to liberty and to challenge the legality of his detention guaranteed under Articles 3 and 5 § § 1 and 4 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR).

In its ruling issued yesterday, the European Court of Human Rights concluded that the conditions of the applicant’s detention, including the lack of medical assistance, the lack of his ability to exercise, and the impossibility of establishing contact with the outside world, combined with the excessive length of his detention as an asylum seeker in such conditions, amounted to degrading treatment. The Court noted that the applicant’s allegations about the detention conditions in the Soufli holdin facility were corroborated by the findings of several international institutions and non-governmental organisations; these allegations were not expressly contradicted by the Government. The Court also concluded that the conditions of the Petrou Rali holding facility, as they are described by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, were in its view unacceptable.

In relation to the applicant’s claim that his detention was unlawful, the Court noted that his asylum application was not registered until his third attempt to do so on 17 May 2007 and that when arresting and detaining him the authorities had failed to take his status as an asylum seeker into account. The Court held that pending the outcome of his application for international protection, the applicant could not be deported and that his detention, with the view to expelling him, had no legal basis in Greek law, at least after the date that his asylum application was officially registered. Thus, the Court held that the applicant’s detention was unlawful in violation of Article 5 § 1 of the ECHR, guaranteeing the right to liberty.

The Court considered that people like the applicant, who could not be expelled pending the decision of their asylum application and who could not challenge lawfulness of their detention before a court found themselves in a legal vacuum. The Court concluded that the lack of possibility for the applicant to obtain a decision regarding his detention constituted a violation of Article 5 § 4 ECHR, which guarantees the right of all detained individuals to take proceedings before a court to challenge the legality of their detention.

The Court’s ruling is consistent with long-standing concerns of Amnesty international about the treatment of asylum seekers and migrants in Greece. Amnesty International has documented appalling unhygienic and overcrowded conditions of detention under which some migrants and asylum-seekers continue to be held in Greece. The organization has expressed its concerns that such conditions may amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in violation of international human rights law.

Amnesty International has also expressed its concern about weaknesses of the asylum system in Greece, including the failure of the authorities to offer people access to the asylum process, the blanket rejection of asylum applications at first instance and the arbitrariness of the detention of migrants and asylum seekers.

The organisation is also concerned that, under the current legal regime, asylum applications must be filed immediately upon entry into the country, without specific provisions ensuring access to the procedure for people detained on arrival.

Amnesty International is opposed to the detention of asylum-seekers except for in the most exceptional circumstances as prescribed by international law. It should only ever be used as a last resort after consideration of alternative non-custodial measures and must be necessary and proportionate to the objective to be achieved. Any asylum-seeker held in detention must be brought promptly before a judicial authority and be provided with an effective opportunity to challenge the lawfulness of the decision to detain.

Amnesty International calls on Greece to fulfil its obligations under international human rights law by improving the conditions in the detention facilities for asylum seekers and migrants to an acceptable standard, and to implement the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of S.D. v Greece, which becomes final in three months, unless it is referred to the Court’s Grand Chamber for review.

Public Document

For more information please call Amnesty International’s press office in London, UK, on +44 207413 5566 or email: press@amnesty.org

International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK

http://www.amnesty.org

For further information about Amnesty International’s concerns about the treatment of asylum seekers and migrants in Greece, see:

Greece: Out of the Spotlight: The rights of foreigners and minorities are still a grey area,Index Number: EUR 25/016/2005

Greece: Call to protect the rights of the most vulnerable AI Index: EUR 25/008/2006 (Public)

Amnesty International Report 2008, The State of the World’s Human Rights

Amnesty International Report 2009, The State of the World’s Human Rights

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Amnesty International says “the Proposed changes to asylum procedures in Greece flagrantly violate international law”

Posted by clandestina on 20 May 2009

Here is the document at Amnesty International website.  Here are the similar complaints by the UNHR.

clandesstinenglish

 

Greece: Proposed changes to asylum procedures flagrantly violate international law

 

Amnesty International is deeply concerned about a proposed Greek Presidential Decree that would introduce extensive amendments to Presidential Decree 90/2008, which incorporates into Greek law the provisions of the EU Procedures Directive. This Directive regulates the minimum standards for asylum procedures across the EU.

The proposed decree would abolish the second stage of asylum procedures in Greece, leaving asylum-seekers with no recourse to a substantial appeal. If the changes are adopted, asylum-seekers whose applications have been rejected at the first stage would only have access to a review by the Council of State, which does not cover the substance of the request, but only examines procedural aspects.

Amnesty International believes that the proposed changes, if implemented, would deprive asylum-seekers of their right to an effective remedy, which is guaranteed under Article 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 39 of the EU Procedures Directive. The lack of an effective remedy to negative asylum decisions would lead to violations of Greece’s obligations not to return anyone to a country where they would be at risk of serious human rights violations under the UN Refugee Convention and other international human rights treaties.

Amnesty International have said that incorrect decisions on asylum applications would effectively be left unchallenged and people at risk of persecution in other countries may have their asylum claims rejected and returned to countries where they face serious human rights abuses. If these changes are introduced, it would cast severe doubts over Greece’s commitment to human rights.

Further, Amnesty International believes that there will continue to be serious concerns regarding the fairness of the first stage of asylum procedures. Under the proposed changes asylum decisions will be taken by local police directors instead of national level. Amnesty International has repeatedly pointed out that the examination of asylum applications by police officers, who also undertake immigration control tasks, undermines the fairness of the asylum procedure.

Public Document

For more information please call Amnesty International’s press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email: press@amnesty.org

International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK

http://www.amnesty.org

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