A total of 308 reported incidents of abusive targeting of young people and other vulnerable groups by officers of the law due to their national, ethnic or racial origin are noted in the Greek Ombudsman’s 2021 report that was released on Thursday.
The independent authority, which also operates as the National Authority for the Investigation of Arbitrary Abuse Cases for 2021, noted that the majority of these incidents was not thoroughly followed through.
Most of the disciplinary incidents were recommended to be filed away, while in cases where the ombudsman recommended further sanctions, penalties proposed for police officers were trivial.
As required by law, orders to conduct internal disciplinary investigations following the reported incidents of abuse were forwarded to the ombudsman by the Hellenic Police and the Hellenic Coast Guard, as well as by Frontex and the Council of State, said the ombudsman’s office. However, no cases were reported by prisons, it added.
The report added that the number of public accusations of abusive behavior by security officers went up by 41% in 2021 compared to the previous year. A 62% of all cases concerned physical harm or abuse of personal liberty, while 14% concerned racist motives or discrimination.
In addition, police mainly abused young people, often under-aged ones. Overall, there was a drop in physical harm or threats to life (-8%, -2%, respectively) from last year, but an increase in racist- or discrimination-driven behavior (+4%), illegal use of a gun (+3%), torture (+2%) and abuse related to gender orientation (+1%).
Failure to see these cases through legally violates directives set by the European Court of Human Rights, said the ombudsman.
Finally, the report mentions that 21 cases of illegal pushbacks were reported to the authority in 2021. In these cases, victims were often not interviewed properly, a portion of photographic or other evidence goes amiss, and some of the incidents are presented as having occured in non-Greek territory.