April 5, 2014

Global Detention Project: Greek detention profile


Greece has been ground zero in Europe’s efforts to halt irregular migration for several years. At the same time, the country’s economic crisis has exasperated social divisions leading to increasing violence and hostility directed at foreigners.

With massive financial and operational assistance provided by the European Union, Greece has confronted migratory pressures by emphasizing interdiction, detention, and removal. A 2013 Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) report summarized: “Greece has focused on reinforcing its external borders and started a policy which relies too heavily on detention. Despite the Greek authorities’ determination to improve the asylum system and detention conditions, which in many instances remain deplorable, much still needs to be done” (PACE 2013).

March 27, 2014

Call for the immediate withdrawal of an unacceptable amendment. The protection of racist violence victims must be ensured

Athens, 26 March 2013. 35 organizations constituting the Racist Violence Recording Network are expressing their unequivocal opposition to the promoted amendment to Article 19 of the Immigration Code, which, if adopted, shall be a shield of protection for all perjuring government officials who are involved in incidents of racist violence and shall virtually set aside any possibility of protection for the victims.

November 27, 2013

Press Release: Two coast guards convicted of torturing asylum seeker upon entry into Greece

On 25. November 2013 the Five-Member Naval Court of Piraeus found two out of three accused coast guards guilty for having committed acts of torture against an asylum seeker, including restricting the victim's breathing so as to simulate drowning and suffocation ('wet and dry submarino'), carrying out mock execution, as well as other serious attacks on human dignity, immediately after the victim's entry into Greece and during his transfer with other asylum-seekers to the Port of Chios. The above-mentioned incident was first documented in the report entitled “The truth may be bitter but it must be told – The Situation of Refugees in the Aegean and the Practices of the Greek Coast Guard” by the Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants and the NGO Pro-Asyl, which was published in 2007 and has attracted extensive publicity ever since.

The two defendants received suspended jail sentences of 6- and 3-years as well as long-term deprival of their political rights. In addition, one of the convicted coast guards faces demotion once the decision becomes final.

November 26, 2013



Atene, 26/11/2013

Ieri 25/11, il Tribunale Marritimo del Pireo in seduta collegiale ha condannato due delle tre guardie costiere imputate di aver torturato un rifugiato, tramite il blocco del respiro fino ai limiti dell'asfissia (il "waterboarding", con e senza acqua), e attraverso finte esecuzioni sommarie, oltre ad altre pesanti offese della dignità umana. Il tutto è avvenuto subito dopo il suo rientro in Grecia, durante il trasferimento del gruppo dei rifugiati al porto dell'isola di Chios. Il crimine venne documentato dal "Gruppo di Avvocati per i Diritti dei Rifugiati e dei Migranti" e dall'ONG "Pro Asyl" nel rapporto del 2007 "The truth must be bitter but must be told - The situation of refugees in the Aegean Sea and the practices of the Greek Coastguard", che ebbe grande risonanza.

I due imputati sono stati condannati a 6 anni e 3 anni di reclusione con effetto sospensivo, oltre all'inflizione della perdita dei diritti politici per molti anni. Al primo di questi personaggi è stata comminata la deposizione dal suo grado, dopo la comunicazione della sentenza irrevocabile.

November 9, 2013

Pushed Back – systematic human rights violations against refugees in the aegean sea and at the greek turkish land border


On the Greek-Turkish land border refugees are systematically refouled with brutal, shocking and systematic violations of human rights: ‘When they left us in the Turkish waters they made waves again and six of us – all men – fell into the sea. The Greeks saw that, but they didn’t help, they just left.’ PRO ASYL documents these systematic pushback in the report “Pushed Back – systematic human rights violations against refugees in the aegean sea and the greek-turkish land border”. With few exceptions, all documented pushback took place in the area of ​​operations of Frontex. PRO ASYL raises the question of the involvement of Frontex on the human rights violations and calls: Frontex must end its operations in Greece.

Download Report (in English)
Summary (in German)

August 18, 2013

Immigration detention centres - “Warehouses” of souls and bodies

A year after the start of operation Xenios Zeus, the uprising in Amygdaleza detention centre reminded us of the approximately 4,000 to 5,000 people held in various detention centres – warehouses all over the country we had forgotten about.

In crisis-stricken Greece operation ‘Xenios Zeus’ has been used by the Greek government as a means of rounding up a redundant and unemployed segment of the migrant labour force from the center of Athens under the pretext of controlling the legality of their residence.

These people have been transferred to new detention centers (Amygdaleza, Corinth, Xanthi, Komotini, etc.) set up specifically for this purpose but which hardly differ from extant facilities (police stations, former warehouses, etc.) that were the subject of a Public Statement by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture of the Council of Europe in March 2011 and have given rise to a multitude of convictions by the European Court of Human Rights on grounds of the inhuman and degrading treatment of the detainees.

June 28, 2013

World Organisation Against Torture: Police harassment of lawyer Electra Koutra

GRE 001 / 0613 / OBS 050
Arbitrary arrest / Police harassment
June 13, 2013

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Greece.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) about the police harassment of Ms. Electra Koutra, President of the Hellenic Action for Human Rights (HAHUR) and GHM legal counsel, in the framework of police profiling operation against transgender persons in Thessaloniki.

According to the information received, in the night of June 4 to June 5, 2013, around midnight, Ms. Electra Koutra was arbitrarily detained at the Democratias Square police station in Thessaloniki, where she had gone in her capacity of lawyer for the Greek Transgendered Support Association (GTSA) to defend a transgender person who was abusively detained for the third time in four days, following an extensive police operation leading to the arbitrary arrest of many transgender persons on the eve of the Thessaloniki LGBT Pride, on June 14 and 15, 2013.