Annual Report: Greece 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Greece 2013

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Asylum-seekers and irregular migrants, including unaccompanied children, were routinely detained and for long periods. In April, a new legislative provision was introduced allowing for the detention of irregular migrants and asylum-seekers on grounds such as suspicion of carrying infectious diseases such as HIV. The police crackdown on migrants that started in August raised concerns about discrimination against people because of their perceived ethnicity and that it would fuel xenophobia.

In October, an amendment to the legislation on asylum determination procedures allowed for police to extend the maximum three- or six-month period that an asylum-seeker can be held by a further 12 months. Substandard detention conditions in various immigration detention centres and police stations where asylum-seekers and irregular migrants were held continued. Conditions at the Elliniko detention facilities in Athens were inhuman and degrading. Between August and the end of the year, many asylum-seekers and irregular migrants, including many Syrian nationals fleeing the conflict there, were reported to be held in very poor conditions in police stations or were left without shelter.

Discrimination

Hate crime

The number of racially motivated attacks escalated dramatically during the year. In October, the Racist Violence Recording Network reported that more than half of the 87 recorded incidents were connected with extremist right-wing groups that had acted in an organized and planned manner. A presidential decree providing for specialized police units in Athens and Thessaloniki to investigate racially motivated crime was signed in December. However, the decree fell short of providing protection for victims with no papers from arrest and deportation for the duration of criminal proceedings.

  • In August, a series of violent attacks was reported against migrants and asylum-seekers and unofficial places of worship in Athens and other cities. On 13 August, an Iraqi national was fatally stabbed. A criminal investigation was ordered but no perpetrator was identified.
  • On 24 September, an Athens court postponed the trial for the seventh time of three Greek nationals including a parliamentary candidate of Golden Dawn. They were accused of beating three Afghani asylum-seekers and stabbing one of them in 2011. It was one of the very few cases of racially motivated violence brought to trial.
  • In October, Parliament lifted the immunity of two Golden Dawn MPs linked with two attacks against market stalls belonging to migrants in the cities of Rafina and Messolongi on 9 September. In November, charges were brought against the MP linked with the incident in Messolongi.
  • On 3 November, migrants and asylum-seekers and their shops and houses in the neighbourhood of Aghios Panteleimon, Athens, were attacked, reportedly by extreme right-wing groups.

People with HIV

In May, the authorities arrested and reportedly forcibly tested for HIV over 100 alleged sex-workers. Serious concerns were expressed over the stigmatization of 29 of the arrested after their personal details including their HIV status and photographs were published by police and charges were brought against them for intentionally causing serious bodily harm. At the end of the year, 12 of them remained in prison, awaiting trial.

Roma

According to the NGO Greek Helsinki Monitor, Romani children continued to be segregated or excluded from education while Romani families were evicted or threatened with eviction from their settlements without alternative and adequate accommodation being provided.

  • In December, the European Court of Human Rights found that the Greek authorities' failure to integrate Romani children in Aspropyrgos into ordinary education amounted to discrimination (Sampani and others v. Greece). This was the second time that Greece was found to have violated the European Convention on Human Rights by segregating Romani children in primary education in Aspropyrgos.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people

In November, LGBTI activists reported that incidents of homophobic violence had escalated in Athens. Victims reported that their attackers were members of extreme right-wing groups allegedly including individuals belonging to the Golden Dawn party.