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Greece criticized over treatment of migrants in U.S. State Department Human Rights report

The US State Department’s annual report on human rights violations around the world published on Tuesday has criticized Greece over unsafe and unhealthy conditions for migrants and asylum-seekers detained in pre-removal facilities or residing at the country’s six reception and identification centers, including gender-based violence against refugee women and children in reception camps.

The report, the first to be published under the Joe Biden administration, also refers to allegations of forced return (refoulement/pushbacks) of refugees, acts of corruption, violence targeting members of national/racial/ethnic minority groups, including some by police.

Alleged crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex persons are also listed in the report.

“The government regularly took steps to investigate, prosecute, and punish officials who committed human rights abuses, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government,” the report says.

“There were, however, complaints from nongovernmental organizations and international organizations regarding the lack of government investigation of and accountability for allegations of forced returns of asylum seekers,” it adds.

Some excerpt from the lengthy report

Members of security forces committed some abuses.

The government regularly took steps to investigate, prosecute, and punish officials who committed human rights abuses, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government. There were, however, complaints from nongovernmental organizations and international organizations regarding the lack of government investigation of and accountability for allegations of forced returns of asylum seekers.

In April a report published by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (CPT) referenced cases of mistreatment by police, especially of foreign nationals and persons from the Roma community, a problem that is a frequent practice throughout the country. CPT also reported receiving a high number of credible allegations of excessive use of excessive force, of unduly tight handcuffing upon apprehension, and of physical and psychological mistreatment of criminal suspects during or in the context of police interviews. Some allegations involved the application of a plastic bag over the suspect’s head during police interviews, reportedly with the aim of obtaining a confession and a signed statement. None of the persons who alleged mistreatment was allowed to make a phone call or to contact a lawyer during their initial questioning by the police.

Prison and detention center conditions included severe overcrowding, insufficient security, lack of access to health care, inadequate access to food and sanitation, and inadequate supplies of resources. Prisoners alleged police mistreatment and physical and verbal abuse (see section 2.f., Protection of Refugees).

According to government statistics published in November, prisons exceeded capacity. Nationwide, prisons can accommodate 10,055 individuals; as of November 16, they held 11,468 inmates. Facilities in Volos, central Greece, in Komotini, Evros, and in Tripoli, Peloponnese, exceeded capacity by 219, 220, and 194 percent respectively. An April 9 CPT report referenced instances of women being placed in the same detention area with unrelated adult men, with cell doors left open during the day, thus allowing men to mix with women without adequate supervision. According to the CPT, for most prisoners, work inside prison was largely notional with a lack of organized recreational sports or vocational activities.

Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

Both the constitution and the law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention and give any person the right to challenge the lawfulness of an arrest or detention in court. The government generally observed these requirements. The ombudsman, through the National Preventive Mechanism for the Investigation of Arbitrary Incidents, received 208 complaints in 2019, most of which related to police. The CPT noted that the system for investigating allegations of mistreatment was not effective, as only a few cases resulted in disciplinary sanctions or criminal sentences.

NGOs reported incidents of security forces committing racially and hate-motivated violence

Denial of Fair Public Trial

The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence and impartiality. Observers reported the judiciary was at times inefficient and sometimes subject to influence. Authorities respected court orders. Observers continued to track the case of Andreas Georgiou, who was the head of the Hellenic Statistical Authority during the Greek financial crisis.

The report includes sections of Press Freedom and other issues.

Full report here.

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  1. The US state department lecturing others about human rights abuse ?????? Really?????

  2. Rich coming from an administration that incentivises families to send children on a trek alone where many are abused and die. The US border is in chaos it is a super spreader event Biden has enabled while locking down his own population. Bit like Jack the Ripper condemning knife crime.

    • False equivalencies. Surprised anyone lets you handle a computer without adult supervision.

      Where has Biden locked anything down here? That’s not the way our republic works.

      We have been open for months. And the vaccine rollout is going very well here. Yours either don’t work effectively or were not purchased in time. That must be upsetting for you.

      On Thursday in New York City alone we start getting all 30 year olds and up vaccinated. Then in two weeks every adult who wants one. Yourselves?

      ps. what did anything of your tantrum have to do with a report on a very serious issue that EU policy makers have repeatedly failed at?

  3. What about their borders? How’s that going? Didn’t Biden build the cages to keep the children locked up in?

  4. Europe got flooded with refugees because of America’s disastrous foreign policy in the ME. Europe should indeed improve the conditions under which the refugees live and send the bill to America. And perhaps they can first look at the humanitarian situation at their own border.

    • The US did not get involved in Syria and instead look what happened. Your assessment is way off. Look at the deal Merkel made with Turkey to understand why these poor people and Greece itself is in this situation now. And maybe a Middle East country for once can take responsibility for their own humanitarian disasters?

      Europeans blaming the US for everything is nothing new. You are an insecure sensitive bunch. The “whaboutism” is a response first developed by the Soviets many years ago, you proudly carry on the torch of incompetence and ignorance in foreign affairs.

      Maybe the US should send you a bill for protecting your whole continent from the USSR for 75 years and singlehandedly building Germany’s economy into a powerhouse after they obliterated the continents whole infrastructure and decimated the very peaceful and productive minority group they once had there?

      There is no reason to get all hurt about this report and start with the broad stroke insults, which are never based in facts or any clear analysis. Reports like these come out globally and also asses issues on the north American border. Perhaps read them.

      And look to EU leaders who have not helped Greece deal with this very real and sad humanitarian crisis and demand they actually take action and provide a solution for once. I know, action and solutions: I these are wild concepts to many Europeans. But try it.

      • I stopped reading after you wrote “The US did not get involved in Syria”.

        Sure pall, America did not get involved in Syria. They are just there securing the oil, lol.

        I actually did read over your drivel. US should send Europe the bill over 75 years of protection against the USSR? Actually, Europe did. As it and the rest of the world support the US economy and US lifestyles by using the dollar in 75% of oil trade in in 60% in international trade. And no country should get in in their right mind to abandon that or it will feel the jack boot of US military intervention.

        Perhaps Europe should send the US the bill for the damages caused by the fact that Wall Street and US corporations supported the rise of Hitler and invested in the Nazi economy well into WWII…

  5. That doesn’t mean that the things mentioned aren’t happening on the ground here. These people are human beings, not statistics.

    • Agree. it is amazing that instead of looking at this as a positive way to shine light on a very real problem created by countries these poor folks come from and the EU’s mismanagement in dealing with the crisis, these commenters just get bitterly defensive because the report comes from the US: The world’s favorite sugar daddy and scapegoat.

      I hope Merkel specifically takes some responsibility here for her failed policies and does something, instead of spending all her time undermining US global security concerns by making bilateral deals with China to export more VW’s.

      • Truth is that the whole world knows…that biden is not, and never will be the lawful POTUS!