Annual Report: Greece 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Greece 2010

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Head of state Karolos Papoulias
Head of government George A. Papandreou (replaced Kostas Karamanlis in October)
Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes
Population 11.2 million
Life expectancy 79.1 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 5/4 per 1,000
Adult literacy 97.1 per cent

Reports continued throughout the year of incidents of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials. A new Presidential Decree left asylum-seekers without an effective right of appeal. There were reports of arbitrary expulsions of irregular migrants and possible asylum-seekers from Evros. Up to 100 people were reportedly left homeless, without access to services, following the forced eviction of a large number of irregular migrants and asylum-seekers from a campsite in Patras. Detention conditions in various immigration detention centres and prisons remained a cause of concern. Attacks by armed opposition groups resulted in injuries.

Background

Armed opposition groups launched a number of armed attacks, including on a police station. They also carried out bomb attacks: some on banks, one on the home of a member of parliament and another on the home of a Member of the European Parliament. One police officer was killed and seven others were injured, three seriously.

Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants

There was concern about the frequent failure by police authorities at the country's points of entry to register individual asylum claims, thereby denying people access to the asylum procedure. In June, a new Presidential Decree (81/2009) introduced detrimental changes to the asylum determination procedure. Among other changes, the new decree abolished the Appeals Board and thus deprives asylum-seekers from an effective right of appeal against decisions at first instance. What remained was judicial review of cases by the Council of State, which is limited to examination of the lawfulness of the decision. In July, UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, announced its decision not to participate in asylum procedures unless substantial changes were made. At the end of the year the new government announced plans to reform the asylum determination procedure, reestablish a new independent Asylum Service and create screening centres for irregular migrants at the country's points of entry. Committees of Experts were set up to prepare proposals on these issues.

Several individuals were forcibly returned to countries where they risked serious human rights abuses.

  • In July, 18 Kurdish asylum-seekers of Turkish nationality, including four unaccompanied minors, were forcibly returned to Turkey. Police responsible for their detention in Chania, Crete, had refused to file asylum applications for the four minors or to forward the 14 adults' applications to the competent authorities.

Between June and August, the authorities transferred many irregular migrants and possible asylum-seekers from immigration detention centres on the Greek islands to the border region of Evros. There were reports by local and international NGOs of arbitrary expulsions of individuals from these groups.

In June, Law 3772/2009 allowed for the administrative expulsion of "aliens", even where the individual has been charged with offences punishable by a minimum of three months' imprisonment. Asylum-seekers and refugees were not excluded from the scope of the provision. The same law increased the period of administrative detention from three to six months with a possible extension of a further 12 months under certain circumstances, making a possible maximum of 18 months.