Migration and Struggle in Greece

Posts Tagged ‘deportation’

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

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Greek government’s immigration plans – the summer of oppression gears up – military dungeons across the Aegean

Posted by clandestina on 12 June 2009


Four days after the European elections that saw far right parties rising in prominence across Europe, the Greek government announced measures aimed at curbing illegal immigration. Greek daily “Ta Nea” reports(translation from Greek):

Felony offenses for slavers and the creation of financial immigrant reception centers for 12 months are two of the immediate measures announced by the government to address the problem of illegal immigration. Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos pointed out the european dimension of the issue, saying that no country can face the problem on it’s own. He also said that the Greek prime minister will broach the issue at the upcoming EU Summit, next week, and press for readmission treaties to be signed with third countries, as well as for signatories, like Turkey, to accede to treaties.In a previous article, “Ta Nea” quoted sources within the government and provided more details about the plan (translation from Greek):

The Defence Ministry sent a list of 11 military camps that could be used as concentration facilities for illegal immigrants arrested by police. The camps have been decomissioned but their facilities are in particularly good condition, the army department of infrastructure assured the police. Sources within the Interior Ministry told “Ta Nea” that the camps available are strewn across various parts of Greece. Greek police didn’t insist in creating just one big camp in Attica, fearing that it could be easily accessible to anti-statists attempting to cause unrest.

The government’s proposals attracted strong opposition criticism. George Papandreou, the leader of Socialist PASOK, described the measures as “sketchy and inadequate” and proposed instead an eight-point plan foreseeing the boosting of border controls and a drive to upgrade parts of the capital that have turned into ghettos for migrants. The Communist Party accused the government of seeking to imprison migrants in “concentration camps.”

The government is accused by the opposition of pandering to the nationalist LA.O.S. party, which doubled it’s seats in the European Parliament, after ethnic tensions flared in recent months in downtown Athens. The center-right Greek government of Kostas Karamanlis, besieged by scandals and the dire condition of the Greek economy, came second at the European elections behind the socialists, losing for the first time in 15 years.

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday chaired an inner cabinet meeting devoted to illegal immigration and the positions that Greece will adopt at the upcoming European Union summit. Reporting on the results of the meeting, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said that illegal migration was the issue expected to dominate the next meeting of the European Council.

According to Pavlopoulos, the main focus at the moment was to convert the EU’s FRONTEX organisation into a European coast guard and to promote re-entry agreements. He underlined that each country separately would be unable to deal with the problem and that this required a common EU effort and policy.

The minister pointed out that the issue of migration had also been discussed by EU interior ministers on the Thursday before the elections, adding that Greece, along with other countries, had since 2005 been at the forefront of efforts for a common European policy on migration, efforts that had led to the European pact for immigration and asylum.

He again called on the EU to exert pressure on third countries to sign re-entry agreements for illegal migrants, stressing that Turkey must finally observe Community rules.

Referring to the problems caused by immigrants but also drug addicts in the centre of Athens, Pavlopoulos said the transfer of the headquarters of the drug rehabilitation agency OKANA to a new location decided by the health ministry would be speeded up, and announced plans to build a mosque in the city and a Moslem cemetery at Schisto. A coordinating committee will be set up in order to ensure the immediate implementation of the measures, he added.

Deputy interior minister for public order issues, Christos Markoyiannakis, said the government intended to introduce harsher penalties for immigrant smugglers, who would henceforth be charged with criminal offences rather than misdemeanours. In addition, the government intends to build organised centres where any illegal immigrants that are apprehended will be able to stay for up to 12 months.

Pavlopoulos said a sharp increase in illegal immigration had been worsened because Turkey, with which Greece shares a border, was not adequately enforcing an agreement to take back migrants facing deportation from Greece.

In 2008, Greek authorities arrested more than 146,000 illegal immigrants, a 30 percent increase from the previous year and a 54 percent jump from 2006, according to figures from the Interior Ministry.

The measures announced Thursday follow the surge in support for a rightist party in European Parliament elections last Sunday, as well a violence protest on May 22 by Muslim immigrants in central Athens, protesting the alleged defacement of a Quran by a Greek policeman.

Earlier this week, police clashed with rival groups of demonstrators near the center of the capital, when local residents tried to block mostly Asian immigrants from entering a public playground.

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Iceland Will Continue to Send Refugees to Greece

Posted by clandestina on 12 June 2009


Iceland Will Continue to Send Refugees to Greece

The Althingi parliament’s general committee has written an opinion on the Ministry of Justice’s report on the position of asylum seekers in Greece and the Dublin Regulation, concluding that the conditions there are improving and that Iceland could therefore continue to send refugees there, just as the other Nordic countries.

However, the committee recommended that each case be evaluated individually, Fréttabladid reports.

“[The opinion] states that we are dealing with these matters in a sensible and well-balanced manner as the other Nordic counties are doing,” said chairwoman of the general committee Steinunn Valdís Óskarsdóttir.

The Ministry of Justice’s report, which was undertaken at the request of Minister of Justice Ragna Árnadóttir, had concluded that there were “serious flaws” in the treatment of asylum seekers in Greece.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is against refugees being sent back there in authority of the Dublin Regulation.

“Judging by what I have seen from the conditions in Greece, I’m surprised that people are going to go this way,” said Arnar Thór Jónsson, the lawyer representing six asylum seekers in Iceland who are at risk of being deported to Greece where they claim their lives are in danger. Most of them have been in Iceland for more than six months.

“And considering how long my clients have been in this country and how long this case has taken, it would be a matter of responsibility to send them back to Greece,” Jónsson stated. “It is not at all certain that the Greek feel that they are responsible for them.”

Click here to read more about the stories of these asylum seekers.

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55 Pakistanis deported from Greece

Posted by clandestina on 12 June 2009


55 Greece deportees received by FIA staff

By: Amraiz Khan | Published: June 12, 2009

LAHORE – The Greece government on Thursday deported 55 Pakistanis to their homeland on a chartered plan after it found them guilty of entering to Greece on fake travel documents or trespassing illegally through lan route, said an FIA official.

He said when the flight landed at the Allama Iqbal International Airport, it was a completely different scene from  usual ones when a normal flight arrives, as the youngsters between ages of 20 to 30 with poor health and  physical condition were received by the FIA immigration staff at the airport.

All the 55 persons were handed over  to the Immigration staff, out of whom only nine belonged to Lahore while rest of the accused were handed over to  the FIA Passport Cell Gujranwala for further investigation. They belong to the districts of Gujranwala, Mandi  Bahauddin, Gujrat, Narowal and Jhelum.

A FIA officer said during preliminary inquiry it was revealed that almost all the accused used land route to manage their entry into Greece and for this purpose they adopted the Quetta-Iran-Turkey route.

Muhammad Iqbal, one of the deported person, said he paid Rs 0.7 million to a travel agent form Gujranwala. He transported him to Greece through Karachi-Iran-Turkey detour. While telling his story, he said it was very hard to  travel through land, as they had to travel on foot for hours with poor food and water arrangements.

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The camps for refugees on the Greek borders are ready and waiting the green light by the EU to start operating

Posted by clandestina on 10 June 2009

This is a translation of an Eleftherotypia article.   BOLD FONTS are ours….


Immigration war in the Aegean

by Giorgos Marnellos

The political managers of the Ministry of Interior have focused on the EU summit in one week from now, which will establish the guidelines along which the issue of illegal immigration, while preparing themselves for a hectic summer ball game in the Aegean and the Evros regions; in this game the ball to be thrown bback and forth is thousands of people.

It is almost certain that Libya and Turkey are among the countries which will be urged to implement the bilateral readmission agreements, which they have signed with Italy and Greece respectively. In particular, Turkey may need to assume formal responsibilities towatrds the EU and find itself in the position of receiving back thousands of immigrants who pass to Greece from the Evros border and the Aegean islands.

According to info available to the «Eleftherotypia», there have already been established under cooperation of the Ministries of Interior and National Defense a number of camps in the border line and the islands, which meet the basic requirements for the decent temporary stay of illegal immigrants before they are formally/legally or illegally returned back to Turkey. It has been estmated that these camps should have the possibility to approximately host three thousand people. immigrants will be taken there by different means immediately after their rescue or arrest in the border line with Turkey and they will remain there … until their cases are settled. Officials say that this period should not exceed 40 days for the camps to be able to temporarily accept the next wave of immigrants.

The Vice-Chairman of the European Commission Jacques Barrot will have the opportunity to see the situation for himself, since he is to tour the Aegean and the Evros region in the last two days of June.

Not in Aspropyrgos

Meanwhile, the idea of concentrating non-legal immigrants in the old NATO base in Aspropyrgos, which had never seriously preoccupied officials, is now formally abandoned. For practical reasons it has been decided to concentrate immigrants to be deported into camps or regional centers, and only those tp be expelled by air to remain at centers in the area of Attica. For example, currently the deportation of 240 Pakistanis has been scheduled.

Apart from the immigration war in the Aegean, the Police intends to use the opportunity of the slack summer months to evacuate the city of Athens from illegal immigrants. The transfer of the OKANA facilities [methadone services for heroine users] away from the district is also beleived to discourage foreign and domestic networks to pillage the area around it.

The center will be cleansed this summer, state officials claim, who take into account the commitments they have towards investors who have purchased properties occupied by immigrants at derisory prices.

However, according to ministry circles, the Deputy Interior Minister Ch. Markogiannakis will exchaust all possiblities for cooperation between political parties before the ministry goes on with the harsh public safety plans. So far, however, there has been reluctance vis-a-vis the ministry’s call of one month ago.  In the EU summit front it will be made clear whether Minister Pavlopoulos’ policy can have practical effects on the treatment of immigration flows in the Aegean .

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Pogrom against Somalis and Sudanese in Patras

Posted by clandestina on 22 May 2009

Around 60 Somalis and Sudanese imigrants were virually hunted and captured (=arrested) by the police in Patras.  They were then detained at the police headquarteres of the nearby town of Patras.  Now in the detention room there are 80 immigrants, despite the fact that the space there is hardly enough for 30.  The detainees were yesterday visited by members of the Movement for the Advocacy of Migrant and Refugee Rights.  10 migrants have applied for political asylum, but communication is dificult since there is no interpretator.   There is some info suggesting that the immigrants will be either tranferred to Athens or deported.  There is a protest gathering today outside Pyrgos police at 13.00.  

info: Athens Indymedia Article, Patras Indymedia Article, tvxs article.

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Greek authorities detained 146,000 migrants in 2008

Posted by clandestina on 27 April 2009

"detention" in Samos

"detention" in Samos

Article retrieved from, originally appeared here.


Athens – Authorities in Greece detained 146,000 illegal immigrants, most of whome came from Turkey, altogether in 2008, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday. In addition, 2,211 people traffickers were arrested and brought before the courts.

The issue of illegal immigration is a priority for Greece, according to the Foreign Ministry in Athens. 

Foreign Minister Dora Bakogianni earlier announced that the government wanted to see the issue of illegal migration on the agenda at the next European Union summit. 

One out of every ten people living in Greece is a non-EU national. The overall number of immigrants is estimated at around 1.2 million, including 800,000 – mainly Albanians – with residence permits. 

Greece’s immigrant problem centres around some 400,000 unregistered migrants, the majority being from Asia and North African-born refugees who wait at the western Greek ports of Patras, Corfu and Igoumenitsa to travel to Italy and then on to Western Europe. 

According to aid agencies, such migrants remain without legal protection and are left to “vegetate.”

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Hands off the political refugee Aslan Tayfun Özkök!

Posted by clandestina on 23 April 2009


solidarity poster

solidarity poster

The turkish leftist fighter Aslan Tayfun Özkök is threatened directly with deportation to turkey by the greek state. We call everyone to support him in order to stop his deportation.

Aslan Tayfun Özkök has fought for many years against the oppressive regime of Turkey. During the 1980s junta he was imprisoned for many years and tortured due to his political beliefs. And also he was adjudicated for a law life sentence by the government of 1980s junta. He had been living outside Turkey for some time now until he was imporisoned again for about 8 months in Cyprus. Immediately after his detention he applied for political asylum which was however rejected by the cypriot state resulting in his deportation to greece. on march 25th he was arrested at the airport by the greek officials and after waiting for 5 days to go through trial he was imprisoned.

In recent years an “antiterrorist hysteria” has prevailed in the countries of the E.U. which targets political fighters and which seems to have worsened with the recent economic crisis. Because for this refugees are slandered as terrorists so as to easily have their rights hurt. This series of attacks has climaxed with the most recent example of the attempt of the greek state -and of the dominant class- to deport ozkok. This hostile act can be faced only with a common fight on the side of the anti imperialist, antifascist, antimilitary powers to prevent his deportation and any other hostile prctice of this sort.

Reality in the modern turkish regime is that every fight for democracy is condemned as a crime. Objectors are murdered in the streets and in police departments. Tortures continue consistently while fighters, intellectuals and writers are imprisoned in type F prisons. Despite all this, a fake image of democratization is given outside as well as within the country. This image is demolished by the reality that people live as the real face of the fascist state is more and more obvious with the daily murders.

By highlighting the pretext of the supposed democratization of the country, the deportations of kurdish and turkish political refuges continue and act as a political partnership for the crimes of dominant class. For this reason, in the case of a deportation of ozkok- who no longer has any safety in turkey, even for his own life- the greek government is responsible. It must resign from this reactionary position and offer him political asylum.

We ask:
For political asylum to be given to Aslan Tayfun Özkök and to all the political refugees.
For Aslan Tayfun Özkök to be freed immediately!

Bridge of People of Anatolia Culture Center
Devrimci Demokrasi (Office in Greece)
Atilim (Athens)
Kurdistan Culture Center
Turkiye Gercegi Newspaper
The Other Periodical
Group of Immigrants and Refugees (Thesaloniki)
The Road Culture Center
Albanian Forum of Immigrants

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Refugees are not alone – “Broom Operations” are fascism – Stop the pogrom against economic and political refugees in Athens

Posted by clandestina on 14 April 2009

We translate below this article by the Network for Social and Political Rights.  The police have continued their attacks on immigrants the last few days.  Today, Tuesday, various police forces have been abusing immigrants in the center of Αthens, along with the usual chasing of vendors by the municipal police – info in Greek here.

500 policemen employed in the "broom operations" - an army of occupation in the center of Athens

500 policemen employed in the "broom operations" - an army of occupation in the center of Athens


The broom-operations [sudden, mass arrests, detention and/or summary deportation of immigrants – a usual practice of the Greek Police during the first years of immigration influxes, still enforced from time to time with terroristic intentions] launched in recent weeks in Omonia and other parts of Athens are acts of racism and brutality.

Under the doctrine of zero tolerance and collective responsibility, hundreds of refugees aew terrorized, abused and humiliated simply because they are foreigners, just because they are «sans papiers». 

It is clear that the most excluded and weak in the Greek society, the economic and political refugees, are used as consumables for the communication campaign of the government to «strengthen the sense of security» among citizens. It is literally on their bodies that the police attempts to «restore its prestige» and «fight criminality».  

At a time when rights and freedoms are infringed in the name of «security» and racists gain access to public forums, the victims of a hideous xenophobic policy are incriminated for the misery and the «diminishing of neighborhoods» [local communities]. 

The government uses refugees as scapegoats to conceal its responsibilities for the violation of rights, the medieval working conditions and the tragic circumstances of living, for the growing poverty and exclusion across the society. 

  • For the disgrace of the Immigration Department, where the queues for filing asylum applications equals to denial of access to asylum procedures and tramples human dignity, where in recent months three refugees have died during pursuits by the police [see here and here].
  • For the denial of  welfare structures and hostels for the homeless refugees which forces them in absolute poverty and the inhuman conditions at the «hotels» around Omonia. 
  • For the complete bankruptcy of the repressive drug policy that incriminates addicts and leads them to exclusion, prison and death. 
  • For their tolerance to the networks of forced prostitution and exploitation of economic and political refugees, which have been proven to be protected primarily by the police itself.

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