April 22, 2015

Denouncement – refugee transferred by the Greek Police to the consulate of her country of origin in breach of Geneva Convention

O.A., citizen of Turkey, applied on 16.04.2015 for asylum due to the persecution she has faced and is in danger of facing by the Turkish authorities for reasons of her political beliefs.

Since then she is being held at the detention facilities in Elliniko and the Greek authorities, instead of proceeding with the examination of her asylum application, releasing her and informing her about the applicable procedure, transferred her today surprisingly to the Turkish consulate in order to deport her.

We denounce the transfer of the above asylum applicant to the consulate of her country of origin as an act that constitutes blatant violation of the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

These actions encroach gravely on the rights of refugees, breach the principle of non-refoulement and expose their lives to danger.

March 23, 2015

Some legal comments to the debate about the administrative detention of migrants in Greece

(Text in Italian follows)

The persistent practice among consecutive Greek governments to subject migrants and asylum-seekers, who enter or live in the Greek territory to systematic, indiscriminate and prolonged detention consistutes a flagrant violation of international, european and national law: administrative detention can only be used as an exceptional and last resort measure and only for the shortest time possible. Unfortunately, the Greek governments have thus treated it as the rule, rather than the exception. Over the past years, administrative detention has been Greece's main policy tool to deal with its migration and asylum issues.

This unsuccessful policy has caused the Greek authorities to infringe fundamental and inviolable detainee rights, to deny the right to international protection and to fulfill many other related international obligation; detainees are treated in an inhuman and degrading manner and are deprived of their liberty for prolonged periods of time without a fair trial. In 2015 alone, three migrants already lost their lives due to the deplorable conditions inside the detention centers and the sub-standard treatment they were subjected to. Others have been detained for around two years without ever having been convicted of a criminal offence.

December 3, 2014

Screening of the documentary ‘Captain Thomas Sankara’, Wednesday 10 December

The Group of Lawyers for the rights of Migrants and Refugees 
invites you to the screening 
of the award-winning documentary film ‘Captain Thomas Sankara’ 
made by Swiss filmmaker Christophe Cupelin.

The screening will take place 
on Wednesday 10/12/2014 at 8:30pm. 
at“ Ktirio 11” is 11 ,Rethymnou and Ioulianou str.
(opposite ‘Radisson Blu Park Hotel’ in Athens)

The documentary will be shown in French language with English subtitles.

November 5, 2014

Case of torture by Coast Guards off Chios in 2007: Appeal Court on 6-11-2014 ‏

Οn 6 November 2014 the Supreme Military Court of Athens (Petrou Ralli str. 1, at 9:00 am) is going to examine the appeal by the two coast guards found guilty at first instance 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 submarine’), 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 had attracted extensive publicity.

October 18, 2014

Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on Greece

Strasbourg, 16.10.2014 – The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has published today the report on its eleventh visit to Greece, which took place in April 2013, together with the response of the Greek authorities.

The visit took place two years after the CPT had issued a public statement in which it had expressed serious concerns regarding the lack of effective action to tackle systemic deficiencies concerning the conditions of detention of irregular migrants and the situation in the prisons. Regrettably, the findings of the 2013 visit demonstrate clearly that the situation has not improved. Further, the problem of ill-treatment by the police appears to be growing and there is little evidence that allegations of ill-treatment are investigated promptly and thoroughly, leading to some police officers believing they can act with impunity.

October 7, 2014

Change of date for the provision of legal counseling by the Group of Lawyers


The Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Migrants and Refugees 
will provide from now on
free legal counseling to migrants and refugees 

EVERY WEDNESDAY FROM 6 p.m to 8 p.m 
at Ktirio 11, Rethymnou 11 and Ioulianou Street.

August 1, 2014

Briefing on Farmakonisi Boat Wreck



Athens, 31 July 2014


During the early hours of 20.1.2014, off the coast of Farmakonisi island, within Greek waters and close to the border line, a small boat capsized, which carried 27 refugees from Afghanistan and Syria, including 4 women and 9 children. The boat capsized and sank, while it was towed by a vessel of the Greek Coast Guard. The sinking resulted in the death of 11 persons (3 women and 8 children). The corpses of one woman and two children were found at sea and the rest of them in the cabin of the vessel, when it was lifted one month after its sinking.

During their immediate contact with the representatives of the UNHCR, which took place the following day on the island of Leros, the 16 refugees who survived reported that their boat had approached the Greek coastline when it came across the Coast Guard and that the towing of the boat by the coast guard was conducted towards Turkey, in two stages at high speeds and resulting in water entering the boat. They also reported that the rope which kept the boat connected with the Coast Guard vessel was cut by the Coast Guard officers, which resulted in the boat being capsized and in the death of 11 women and children and that the necessary rescue actions were not taken. They also complained about further acts of mistreatment against them after they reached the island of Farmakonisi.

The Coast Guard officers, on the contrary, have denied the complaints.

The Prosecutor of the Marine Court has ordered a preliminary investigation on this case, which has been extensively covered by the Press attracting international interest and has been dealt with by the Greek and the European Parliament. Our organisations have closely followed the case, supporting the victims in exercizing their rights.

Archiving of the penal file
After a preliminary investigation led by the Prosecutor of Piraeus' Marine Court, the case was considered to be “manifestly ill-founded in substance” with regard to Articles 306 (exposure to risk), Article 277 (causing a shipwreck), Article 278 (causing a shipwreck by negligence) and Article 308 (bodily harm) of the Penal Code and the file was archived.

This meant that the investigation into the responsibility of the Greek coast guard for causing the boat to sink as well as for inflicting ill-treatment against the victims - as they had been accused of by the survivors - was stopped.

The decision to end the investigation was approved by the Prosecutor of the Military Court of Review, who has under the law the power to order a criminal prosecution.

The decision of Piraeus' Marine Court to close and archive the case and turn a blind eye to the accusations raised by the victims as well as their detailed testimonies concerning the facts of the case, undermines the right to judicial protection and overrides fundamental rights and guarantees that aim at protecting the victim in penal procedures.