Migration and Struggle in Greece

Posts Tagged ‘asylum’

Political refugees from Iran hunger strike in Athens

Posted by clandestina on 21 October 2009


We are political refugees from Iran, protected by the special status from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. We cannot return to Iran because we face the danger of imprisonment nor can we go legally to another country.

Although we are re recognised as political refugees, the Greek state refuses to give us our legal rights and at the same time gets funds from the European Union without using this money to support the refugees.

We demand the international regulations to be implemented and the Greek state give us all the required papers (white card, travel documents).

We request the help and the support of individuals and organisations in Greece and all other european countries.

We go on a hunger strike on Monday 19 October, in Propylaia, Athens protesting peacefully until the satisfaction of our demands.

source:athens indymedia

Posted in Action & Struggle Reports, Calls to Action, Campaigns, Appeals & Petitions, Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases, Undeclared War news | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

BBC journalist on Samos, immigrants in Greece and the UK

Posted by clandestina on 15 October 2009

original article at

Greece’s immigrants in limbo

by Gavin Hewitt

Thursday, 15 October 2009

at BBC

photo appeared on the original article

photo appeared on the original article

On a hill above the town of Samos in eastern Greece are a series of long buildings with grey walls and red roofs. They could be a barracks but this is a detention centre for immigrants. It was built to hold 300 people. Today, 473 are held there. Fifty-three are women and 10 are under the age of 18. They live behind barbed wire and wait. They stay for between one and three months, their frustration gnawing away at them. These are people who have made long, often dangerous journeys to reach the shores of Europe.

Within minutes of us starting to film through the wire a young man in a red football shirt detached himself from a group and shouted out to us. Clinging to the wire fence he said he was from Somalia but looked as if he had come from West Africa. He demands to know why he is being locked up. “Why?” he pleads with me. In a refugee centre in town someone has written on a wall: “They don’t let us come. They don’t let us stay. They don’t let us go.”

A few claim asylum but that is no longer a popular option. It can tie up a migrant for months. In Greece only 0.1% of asylum seekers are successful compared to 76% in Finland.

The common story is that after a month or so they are transferred to a detention centre elsewhere in Greece. They are eventually freed and told they must leave the country within a month. The vast majority head west to other European destinations.

The UK remains the favourite country. In London they can find their own community which will provide them with work often in the underground economy. It is an abiding belief that the British will eventually allow them to stay. There is another factor that drives them west: Money. Those from Afghanistan are often in the hands of powerful and dangerous traffickers. Some in the camp here in Samos say that it costs the equivalent of £16,000 to get from Afghanistan to Britain.

Often their families back home have sold houses to pay the people smugglers. Some will have to pay the networks from whatever they earn in London or other European cities. Without work they and their families are at risk from the traffickers. They owe a debt and will not be deterred by officials or laws. One lawyer looked at this camp and said there could be £4m of business right there.

The Greeks know that they are, in effect, just passing on the problem but, in their view, they are overwhelmed. They want the rest of Europe to start taking a share of those who arrive on Greek shores. That is unlikely to happen soon. It is difficult for any country to take a quota of immigrants determined by others. In any event some fear that a quota system would only encourage others to head to Europe.

Immigration is a major issue for the European Union. The current plan is called the Stockholm programme and the aim is to have it approved by the end of the year. The

intention is to beef up border patrols by giving more money to Frontex, the relatively new body that operates planes and ships.

Certainly here in Greece there is little evidence that Frontex patrols have a deterrent effect. The traffickers tell the migrants that if a Frontex boat appears to jump in the water and they’ll have to rescue you.

Measures are being considered to make it harder to grant mass amnesties for illegal migrants but that leaves open the question of what should be done with them. The EU is also working on what it calls a “Return Directive”. It is expected to become law by December 2010 and is supposed to make it easier to send home illegal immigrants but the law only applies once a decision has been taken to deport an immigrant.

The UK has opted out of this. If it is intended to deter migrants it is unlikely to be successful. Detainees will have the right to appeal against deportation, to see legal advisers, family members and get medical attention.

It is a directive that will provide a lot of work for lawyers. It is the view of the UK that it could make returning illegal immigrants more difficult because detainees will have more power to challenge deportation.

When economies were growing fast and there were gaps in the labour markets some countries were relatively relaxed about these arrivals but with 22 million people out of work across the EU the mood is changing. There were 238,000 asylum applications last year and just over a third were approved. As to the number of illegal immigrants no one knows. There may be a decline in those trying to get to Malta or Italy from Africa. This is partly because of an agreement with Libya to restrict the crossings. But the numbers have edged up in Greece and Southern Spain.

The reality is that in the midst of a severe recession the migrants have not been deterred. Many fear for their lives if they return home owning money. Currently there is no common European approach to this problem. There are moves and initiatives but, for the time being, Europe is like a trip wire. It makes live difficult for the migrants but it does not seriously put them off coming and neither does it help them settle.

Posted in Publications, Long Reports, Analyses, Reviews & Research, Undeclared War news | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Toddler behind bars

Posted by clandestina on 11 October 2009

Toddler behind bars

Issue No. 13358
Three-year-old Rozita and her mother, Zahra, have spent nearly a year in prison
ROZITA has spent one-third of her life in prison. She’s three years old.

Her parents, undocumented migrants from Afghanistan, were arrested in Greece and sentenced for forgery and immigration violations. They had illegally entered the country last year and were caught trying to leave on forged passports.

A court in Kilkis, a town in central Macedonia, sentenced the couple to six months in prison and fined them 3,000 euros. The sentence was indefinitely suspended on the grounds they would be deported.

This was in December 2008. They are still awaiting deportation.

They are still behind bars. To be deported, they need passports, which they do not have. This is why Rozita and her mother, Zahra, remain locked up.

Rozita is with her mother in a women’s prison in Thiva, about 50km outside Athens. The father is being held in a separate facility. Over the past 10 months, mother and daughter have been shuttled around the country: from a jail in Kilkis to a detention facility in Thessaloniki and the Korydalos prison in Athens.


According to Electra Koutra, an Athens lawyer and founder of the non-governmental organisation Hellenic Action for Human Rights, the family was unlawfully denied a lawyer and interpreter when they first appeared before the Kilkis court.

A second judicial blow came last week when a court in Thiva rejected a petition to release Rozita and her mother on the grounds they are seeking asylum in Greece and do not pose a threat to public order. The court rejected their petition and ruled they must remain in prison until deported.

“Not only is it inhuman to keep a child locked up, but it’s also a gross violation of human rights,” Koutra tells the Athens News. “The little girl came down with scabies and is always getting sick. She had to be taken to hospital twice.”

If mother and daughter are not immediately released, Koutra warns the case will be taken to the European Court of Human Rights.

According to Asan Sukuri, president of the local Afghan association Noor, Zahra’s life is in danger if she is returned to Afghanistan because she belongs to the Hazara ethnic minority group. He also said she is from a region that is under Taliban control.

Sukuri says he told the Thiva court that if the mother and daughter were released they would be hosted by relatives legally residing in Greece and that his association would help them find employment while their application for asylum is being processed. The court denied his proposal.

“Zahra cries all the time when we speak on the telephone,” Sukuri told the Athens News on September 29. “She cries and tells me that she cannot stand the situation any more. She has been in prison for almost a year. Something needs to be done.”

Asylum in Greece

Greece has one of the lowest refugee recognition rates in the European Union. Last year, Greece granted refugee status to 379 people out of nearly 20,000 applications reviewed.

By law, authorities must process all claims for asylum immediately. Asylum seekers should be fingerprinted and issued a so-called pink card (rose karta).

Holders of this card are entitled to free medical treatment and the right to employment. Authorities, by law, have three months to examine the asylum claim and render a decision. This is seldom the case.

New legislation passed in July has severely undermined the appeals procedure, according to local and international human rights groups like Amnesty International and the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

The new rules force rejected asylum seekers to take their case to the Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court. This requires them to hire a lawyer – something which few can afford.

Greece has faced a barrage of Europe-wide criticism since November 2007 when the German non-governmental organisation Pro Asyl published a shocking report accusing the Greek coastguard of “systematically abusing newly-arrived refugees”.

Posted in Calls to Action, Campaigns, Appeals & Petitions, Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Interviews and Testimonies, Publications, Long Reports, Analyses, Reviews & Research, Undeclared War news | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Group of migrants in Calais started a hunger strike

Posted by clandestina on 30 September 2009




As of 12am French time today a group of migrants in Calais started a highly visible hunger strike in a public place. The migrants, from regions including Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan, Palestine, and Egypt, say they will continue the strike until Western countries co-operate to offer them asylum. They are also demanding that no migrant in Calais is readmitted to Greece, Italy or Malta.

The migrants face constant harassment from police. Every day some amongst their number are arrested, taken to the police station only to be released in four to six hours. Occasionally they are held for as long as two days. Repression intensified recently with the destruction of the jungle where many migrants lived, the trigger-happy use of tear gas including on pregnant women, destruction of personal belongings and the targeting of migrants observing fasting during Ramadan by arresting them at nightfall and throwing away their food. If the police try to separate the hunger strikers or arrest them on spurious grounds, they say they will continue the hunger strike while under arrest and move again to a public space to continue the action when freed.

No Borders activists are already supporting the hunger strikers by standing alongside them, but the migrants are calling for support from all over the world. Messages of support can be left at and the hunger strikers welcome anyone who wants to join the hunger strike in solidarity whether in Calais or elsewhere.

Benjamin, 38, an asylum seeker from Iran, says: “The police tell us we cannot be here but we have nowhere to go. The world is ignoring us so we are making our suffering public by going on hunger strike in full view. Tourists moving through the port and exercising their freedom of movement will be forced to see our lack of freedom until Western governments work together to offer us somewhere to build a new life safely.”

With migrants facing increasing repression and winter approaching, the situation is urgent. But they say Western countries should not abrogate their responsibilities by readmitting migrants to the first European country they were fingerprinted in.  Many migrants who are readmitted to Italy, Greece and Malta say the situation is much worse there than living clandestinely in Calais and that they are oppressed there. In Greece, readmitted migrants are often locked up for three months and increasingly for six months. On release, migrants still have nowhere to go and continue to be targeted by police who beat them and sometimes rip up their papers. Readmission is not the solution according to the hunger strikers – countries including the UK, Canada, USA and Sweden should take a proportion of the hunger strikers.


For further information, or to arrange an interview with one of the hunger strikers, call 0033634810710. HYPERLINK “”

Posted in Action & Struggle Reports, Calls to Action, Campaigns, Appeals & Petitions, Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

UNHCR objects to Greece’s new asylum regulations

Posted by clandestina on 20 July 2009


UNHCR objects to Greece’s new asylum regulations


ATHENS, Greece — The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Friday (July 17th) it is suspending its participation in advisory committees examining asylum requests in Greece to protest newly adopted rules on granting asylum. The agency said the new regulations will compromise the efficiency and fairness of the procedure to determine refugee status in Greece, as required by international and European legislation. New processing rules would only make the application system more protracted, it warned. Last year, Greece granted asylum to 379 people out of nearly 20,000 requests, one of the lowest acceptance rates in the EU. (Kathimerini, AFP, AP – 18/07/09)

Posted in Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases, Undeclared War news | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

EU, Libya, Turkey: the states’ trade in refugee lives continues.

Posted by clandestina on 18 July 2009


EU wants Turkey, Libya to help fight illegal immigration

By Christian Spillmann (AFP)

STOCKHOLM — The European Union will soon undertake tricky political talks with Turkey and Libya as they look for their help in cracking down on people-smuggling rings to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into Europe.

But some of the demands Ankara and Tripoli are making in exchange for their help could prove complicated.

EU Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot, in Stockholm for a meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers on Thursday and Friday, told reporters he was preparing visits to the two countries.

“I plan to travel to Libya after the summer break and to Turkey in September or October,” Barrot said, adding that he expected “an official invitation” from Turkey’s interior minister soon.

More than 67,000 people crossed the Mediterranean in 2008 to try to enter Europe illegally, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and some of those have died at sea.

Turkey, an EU membership candidate, is considered the main transit country for illegal immigrants from Asia. They arrive on the Turkish coast, and from there make their way to the Greek islands, the gateway to the European Union.

Immigrants from Africa meanwhile tend to converge on Libya, where they set sail for the European Union via Malta or the Italian island of Lampedusa.

The fight against illegal immigration “can only be fought by resolving two issues: ties with Turkey and Libya,” French Immigration Minister Eric Besson told AFP.

“When it comes to Turkey, their willingness to cooperate with the EU needs to be tested,” he added. “The first comments by Turkey’s interior minister have been encouraging. But now we have to see the concrete details.”

“When it comes to Libya, one can see clearly that they can stop illegal immigration when they want to.”

The 27-member bloc wants Turkey and Libya to crack down on the organised people-smuggling rings and to agree to take back the illegal immigrants who departed from their coasts, Barrot said.

It also wants Libya, which has not signed the Geneva Convention on human rights, to agree to protect persecuted people and make it easier for people to seek asylum there.

Barrot said he hoped to visit Libya together with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres.

“I know his administration is not very keen (on the trip), but he understands the problems,” he said.

The UN refugee agency has harshly criticised bilateral agreements signed between Italy and Libya to turn back would-be refugees.

The Italian navy intercepted a boat carrying 82 migrants on July 1 near Lampedusa.

The UNHCR has alleged that some of the migrants were injured during transfer to a Libyan vessel, that some of their belongings were never returned to them and that their possible refugee status was never checked.

Barrot refused to comment on the allegations, which Italy has decried as “false.”

He is determined to curb the influx of illegal immigrants, which threatens to destabilise some countries in Europe — such as Greece — and hampers EU efforts to handle legitimate asylum requests.

“If we don’t link migration to development and diplomacy we won’t succeed,” he warned.

Yet a number of obstacles remain before Turkey and Libya agree to cooperate with the EU.

“Turkey is ready to sign readmission agreements” to take back immigrants who left from its territory,” Barrot said.

“But it says it is merely a transit country and wants similar agreements signed with Pakistan and Afghanistan” to enable Ankara to send back the immigrants who came from those countries, he added.

The issues with Libya are even more complex.

“They are demanding impossible things,” he said, explaining that Tripoli has put “enormous” financial demands on the EU in exchange for its help.

“We proposed 20 million euros, but they are asking for 200 to 300 million,” sources in Barrot’s entourage said.

Tripoli says it needs the funds to monitor its border with Niger and Chad

Posted in Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Publications, Long Reports, Analyses, Reviews & Research, Undeclared War news | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

UNHCR: Greece’s new immigration policies based on “dangerous generalizations”

Posted by clandestina on 10 July 2009

Q&A: Greece’s new immigration policies based on “dangerous generalizations”

10 Jul 2009 15:47:04 GMT
Source: UNHCR
ATHENS, Greece, July 10 (UNHCR) – Greece has introduced strict policies aimed at combating irregular immigration and passed legislation that could compromise the effective protection of people applying for asylum for the first time or on appeal. Charis Karanikas of the Ta Nea daily newspaper recently met Giorgios Tsarbopoulos, head of UNHCR’s office in Athens, to talk about the implications of this new legislation and a police crackdown on alleged illegal immigrants.
Excerpts from the interview:
What do you think of the latest measures?
The reasoning behind them is based on dangerous generalizations. We cannot speak only about “illegal” immigrants. Amongst them are many people who are in need of protection and whom the state is obligated to protect.
Should police measures be beefed up?
Yes, as regards the smugglers and the traffickers. But the problem cannot be handled only by police measures. Harsher policing at the border must be coupled with the creation of reception facilities.
What can be done in neighbourhoods inundated by immigrants?
Firstly, all those who are entitled to it under the law should be referred to special accommodation facilities. They include asylum-seekers and unaccompanied minors. Today, hundreds of people who have a right to this are homeless. In general, there is a need for shelter planning, regardless of whether people are legal or illegal.Will the violence seen in the central Athens neighbourhood of Agios Panteleimon, home to many homeless Afghan migrants and asylum-seekers, spread to other areas?I hope not.
How can this be avoided?
By isolating the extreme reactions, which simply serve to shift the problem. And through a dialogue between the government and the political parties, initiatives taken by the municipalities as well as talks with organizations of immigrants and refugees.
Do you agree with transforming military camps into reception centres?
Reception facilities and administrative detention centres for immigrants in view of their deportation are two separate things. It’s not enough to turn some installations into detention centres if you pretend to create proper reception conditions.
Can Greece address this problem alone?
What’s your opinion about the European Union’s stand on the matter?
It is steering clear of establishing binding mechanisms and practices for fairer responsibility sharing among the member states.
How many immigrants arrive in Greece each year?
In 2008, 146,337 people were arrested for “illegally entering and residing” in the country. There are, of course, others who have not been arrested. On the other hand, an unknown number of those who have been arrested were already residing in the country. Therefore the official data needs further analysis.
How many of them end up in existing reception centres?
All those who enter the country without papers are detained for up to three months at the administrative detention centres. Those who request asylum are transferred to open reception centres, which are too few to meet demand.
What are conditions like at these centres?
Most of the detention centres do not meet the basic conditions of human rights. The exceptions include the new centres on the island of Samos and in the Evros region [Filakio], however both are faced with problems of overcrowding.
What about reception conditions?
Reception facilities in border areas should include services and specialized staff in order to ensure the identification of people who are entitled to protection, assessment of their needs, information about their rights and obligations, and facilitation for their access to the asylum procedure.
Do you think the number of people who apply for asylum is less than the number who need it?
Those who deserve asylum are fewer than those who request it. And those who request it are not all refugees who genuinely deserve it.
Why don’t those who need asylum apply for it?
It’s because they don’t get the right information or legal advice, especially in the border areas. It’s also because they don’t manage to submit their application . . . or because they don’t trust Greece’s very problematic asylum system.
What are the main problems with Greece’s asylum system?
The initial processing and decision-making is unreliable, and the refugee recognition rate is almost zero. Not all asylum claims are registered swiftly, while many asylum-seekers lose their right to appeal. The procedure for adjudicating the claims is extremely slow.
What are the most common complaints you get from immigrants and refugees?
Delays in the adjudication of their asylum applications; lack of shelter and social care; informal push-backs or returns to Turkey across the Evros River [in north-east Greece], cases of ill-treatment.
And what do you do about them?
It depends. We address formal letters to the authorities; we try to solve the problem in an ad hoc way if possible; and we often refer individual cases to non-governmental organizations which provide legal and social support.

Posted in Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Interviews and Testimonies, Publications, Long Reports, Analyses, Reviews & Research | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The asylum crisis and the rise of racist violence in Greece – by Hellenic League for Human Rights & European Association for the Defense of Human Rights

Posted by clandestina on 5 July 2009

Statement asylum and racist violence in Greece EN – pdf

The asylum crisis and the rise of racist violence in Greece

Open letter to the Prime Minister of Greece, Mr. Karamanlis

and to the Minister of Interior, Mr. Pavlopoulos

HLHR – AEDH joint statement

Brussels-Athens 3rd June 2009

The Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR) and the European League for Human Rights (AEDH) express their deep concern about the emergency of the asylum system and the rise of xenophobia and racist violence in Greece. HLHR and AEDH propose policy solutions and immediate remedy action in order to avoid escalation of phenomena of violation of human rights with a highly negative impact on victims and society.

HLHR and AEDH are concerned about a proposed Greek Presidential Decree which will further deteriorate Greece’s asylum system crisis. The proposed amendments to Presidential Decree 90/2008, which incorporates into Greek law the provisions of the EU Procedures Directive include:

– The abolition of the Appeals’ Board as second stage instance for the substantial examination of an asylum application. This leaves asylum-seekers without the right of appeal for a substantial examination of their application at a second instance. In case of a rejection, which is the outcome of the overwhelming majority of asylum applications in Greece (98,62% in 2008), asylum seekers may only apply for a review by the Council of State which only examines the legality of the procedure but does not exercise a full control of all the legal and factual aspects of the cases.

– Decision authority on asylum applications is left to the regional and local Police Directors throughout Greece, without an effective role of non-police bodies and NGOs. Existing Appeals’ Boards, maintained for the pending appeals, will become an advisory body with no decision making power.

In the past years the Greek authorities have abstained from protecting promptly and efficiently the rights of asylum seekers, women, children and elderly. The percentage of granting asylum status have been among the lowest in Europe (1,38% in 2008 for asylum and humanitarian status grants) and admittedly Greek state has been reluctant in providing effective protection of unaccompanied minors against detention and expulsion despite urgent recommendations by national and international bodies [1].

In the same time, large numbers of asylum seekers seek every weekend to submit an asylum application in the Athens police headquarters. During such process and after clashes with the police, 3 asylum seekers have died under undetermined conditions in the last 6 months.

Areas of the historic centre of Athens are inhabited, rented or occupied, by undocumented migrants and asylum seekers under precarious or inhumane conditions, while xenophobic public discourse about ‘ghettos’ and criminality of migrants is on the rise [2].

Day-by-day racist Islamophobic incidents and violence by organised far-right groups against asylum seekers occur in the centre and suburbs of Athens, without effective intervention by the Police in protection of the victims, while official statistics have not ever recorded any racist crime in Greece.  Boat-prisons and military detention camps in the outskirts of Athens are discussed or announced as policy for sweeping asylum seekers and undocumented migrants out of the city centre.

HLHR and AEDH urge the Greek authorities:

  • To refrain from any action or legislative initiative that would entail further violation of human rights of undocumented migrants, therefore to preserve second instance substantial examination of asylum applications, to refrain from mass rejections and guarantee effective and transparent first instance decisions for granting asylum status to those entitled to international and humanitarian protection.
  • To design policies, which would be guided by a human rights-based approach and would guarantee efficient results for both the undocumented migrants and Greek society.
  • To involve fully and as soon as possible civil society, competent NGOs and academic centres and most of all, migrant associations and organisations in migration policy planning and implementation.
  • To proceed with full integration and granting rights to migrants, who live for many years in Greece, in order to achieve political participation through public representation, and counterbalance xenophobia in local communities and at a national level.
  • To provide effective protection of vulnerable groups, such as women, children and elderly by protecting from expulsion where needed and by providing to unaccompanied minors effective representation, tutorship and social care and protection specific to their needs.
  • To reform and to implement an efficient asylum system by endorsing recommendations by the competent international, intergovernmental and national civil society bodies and organisations.
  • To proceed as an EU-border member State to the necessary steps for the activation of the European Directive 55/2001 about mass influx of displaced persons for those ethnic and vulnerable groups needing humanitarian protection for fleeing their countries under war and turmoil. This could cover those persons that according the Greek state are not entitled to asylum status but yet they need provisional protection.
  • To provide a reasonable path to regularisation of status for those migrants already employed into the widespread Greek informal economy.
  • To provide effective protection and assistance to racism, discrimination and hate crime victims by activating and efficiently implementing existing anti-racist and anti-discrimination law provisions.
  • To refrain from any comments, political action or discourse that could further boost and provide fertile ground for dangerous, rapidly escalating and social cohesion threatening xenophobic trends and violence.

[1] According to the comments of Greek authorities to the report by Thomas Hammarberg Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, CommDH(2009)6 (4.2.2009) ‘the Aliens Law has not included an individual provision for the exclusion from arrest and detention for deportation of unaccompanied minors who violate the migration legislation. Besides, the prospect of an opposite provision would increase the problem of the “children of traffic lights” and child labour in general.’ (Appendix, p.23). The Greek Ombudsman has proposed the abolition of detention and expulsion of unaccompanied minors since October 2005.

[2] According the Greek National Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia – RAXEN NFP (HLHR-KEMO) The increasing trend of racist violence and Islamophobic incidents have been alarming since the election of a far-right political party in the Parliament in autumn 2007. The Greek RAXEN NFP is leaded by HLHR

Pierre Barge, President AEDH

Miltos PavlouDirector, HLHR-KEMO RAXEN NFP

Dimitris Christopoulos, President HLHR

Fax : 0030-210-6990258,,

Pierre BARGE, président
AEDH, Association Européenne pour la
défense des Droits de l’Homme,
Membre associé de la FIDH
33, rue de la Caserne
B- 1000 Bruxelles
Tél : +32(0)25112100
Fax : +32(0)25113200 ;

Miltos Pavlou, Director HLHR-KEMO RAXEN NFP
Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR)
HLHR-KEMO-National Focal Point on Racism and Xenophobia
Bohali 63, Athens 11524
Tel : 0030-210-6990258

Posted in Calls to Action, Campaigns, Appeals & Petitions, Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases, Publications, Long Reports, Analyses, Reviews & Research | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted by clandestina on 13 June 2009




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:

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

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

Posted in Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases, Publications, Long Reports, Analyses, Reviews & Research | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Greece to set up internment camps for immigrants…

Posted by clandestina on 13 June 2009

We feature here a useful summary and in-text links about the overall situation in Greece by the teacherdudebbq blog.

Originally published here.


Greece to set up internment camps for immigrants

The Greek daily Nea newspaper reported that the government was in the process of setting up internment camps for illegal immigrants throughout the country. Eleven disused army bases have been chosen in order to house those found without legal residency documents.

Stung by their losses in the recent European elections the ruling conservative New Democracy party has taken a sharp turn to the right in order to win back dissatisfied voters who’s defected to the far right LAOS party in last week’s elections.

In addition the police have made hundreds of arrests of suspected illegal immigrants in the centre of Athens in an action which has been interpreted as a “get tough” message by the government of Kostas Karamanlis to the party’s base following months of falling opinion poll results brought on by a series of corruption scandals and unhappiness with Athens’s handling of Greece’s deepening recession.

However, many opposition groups are doubtful whether the proposed measures will be anything other than a publicity exercise. Despite recent crackdowns the government has failed to formulate a coherent policy concerning the integration of the country’s 1 million foreign born inhabitants.

Nothing more reflects Greece’s sometimes schizophrenic attitude to immigration than the plight of those in the port city of Patra, one of the country’s gateway’s to Europe. Everyday hundreds of refugees from Afghanistan and other east Asian countries attempt to smuggle themselves aboard trucks headed for Italy. Most have no legal documents and given the fact that less than 1% who apply for asylum are granted it very little chance of ever obtaining legal travel documents.

Desperate to leave Greece, the state has made it virtually impossible for them to travel, resulting in hundreds of thousands stuck in a bureaucratic limbo in which they are constantly at risk of arrest and deportation by the police. Even those who do escape face the risk of being sent back to Greece under the terms of the EU’s Dublin II regulations which states that immigrants have to apply for asylum in the first European Union country they reach. However, countries such as Holland, Finland and Norway have suspended such agreements citing lapses and abuses of the asylum laws in Greece, especially concerning minors.

Growing concerns over immigration have been exploited by Greece’s far right parties and organisations in order to raise their public profile and gain political leverage in parliament. Giorgos Karatzaferis, leader of the nationalist LAOS party used the recent elections to promote his party’s anti – immigration policies. In addition ultra – nationalists groups such as the neo – Nazi Chrysi Aygi (New Dawn) have stepped up attacks on immigrants in Athens.

The recent clamp downs by the police have also worried Greece’s human rights groups who have often accused the police of illegal treatment of non – ethnic Greek groups. Also organisations such as Amnesty International and Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) have repeatedly condemned the country’s police and prison system of human rights abuses. In addition United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) criticised the country over its treatment of asylum seekers.

Case in point is the capital’s Petrou Ralli police station which has been repeatedly been connected with the suspicious deaths of Asian immigrants in the area. Three have been found dead, dumped in a river bed 500 metres away from the station in the area in the last eight months alone.

This is not the first time that internment camps have been used in the history of modern Greece. During the military junta which ruled from 1967 to 1974 the state set up camps on the Greek islands to imprison and torture political dissidents.

Posted in Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Publications, Long Reports, Analyses, Reviews & Research | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »