Last Updated: Friday, 26 August 2016, 16:36 GMT

World Report 2014 - European Union: Greece

Publisher Human Rights Watch
Publication Date 21 January 2014
Cite as Human Rights Watch, World Report 2014 - European Union: Greece, 21 January 2014, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/52dfdde7f.html [accessed 27 August 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Political uncertainty marked Greece's third year of economic crisis. In May, the UN independent expert on foreign debt and human rights warned that bailout conditions undermine human rights. The sudden closure of the national public broadcaster in June raised media freedom concerns, and resulted in a government reshuffle.

Despite the creation in January of anti-racism police units and some arrests, attacks on migrants and asylum seekers continued, with an NGO network recording 104 incidents by the end of August. Anti-LGBT attacks appeared to increase. The Greek ombudsman warned in September that racist violence and impunity for the perpetrators undermine social cohesion and rule of law. In November, the government tabled a bill to sanction hate speech and incitement to violence, failing to address problems in existing legislation and practice with respect to racist violence. Two people were convicted of racially aggravated crimes in November, the first known time the 2008 statute has been applied.

The fatal stabbing of an anti-fascist activist in Athens in September by an alleged member of Golden Dawn sparked a crackdown on the party and the arrest of the party leader and five parliamentarians on charges of managing a criminal organization. An internal police investigation found in October that 10 Greek police officers were linked to Golden Dawn.

In November, two Golden Dawn members were murdered outside a party's branch in Athens, and a third man was seriously injured. At time of writing, no arrests had been made.

In April, three Greek foremen were arrested after shooting at 100 to 200 Bangladeshi strawberry pickers demanding unpaid wages. The 35 injured were granted humanitarian visas while the foremen and the farm's owner were in pretrial detention at time of writing.

In July, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS expressed concern after the government reintroduced a health regulation used in the past to justify detention and forced HIV testing of alleged sex workers. A separate law allowing police to detain foreigners based on overly broad public health grounds was still in force.

In October, the ECtHR held that the failure by the Greek Supreme Court to condemn a private company's dismissal of an employee, because he was HIV-positive, amounted to a violation of his right to protection from discrimination taken together with his right to a private life.

Increased security along the land border with Turkey rerouted flows of irregular migrants and asylum seekers, including Syrians, to Aegean Sea islands. Sea crossings were marked by at least ten deaths. UNHCR expressed concern over allegations of pushbacks to Turkey, including of people fleeing Syria.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the UN special rapporteur Crépeau, and CoE Commissioner Muižnieks criticized abusive stops and arbitrary detention during an ongoing police operation Xenios Zeus against irregular migrants, and noted substandard conditions of migrants and asylum seekers in often systematic and prolonged detention. The ECtHR condemned Greece over inhuman and degrading treatment in immigration detention in three separate cases. Detainees rioted at the Amgydaleza facility in August.

The new asylum service began processing applications in Athens in June, but access to asylum in the rest of the country, and in detention, remains difficult. Data published in 2013 show Greece had the lowest protection rate at first instance in the EU (0.9 percent in 2012).

In May, the ECtHR ruled for the third time since 2008 that school segregation of Roma pupils in Greece amounted to discrimination. CoE Commissioner Muižnieks expressed concern over persistent reports of ill-treatment of Roma by law enforcement agencies. In the first nine months of 2013, Greek police conducted 1,131 operations in Roma camps throughout the country, raising concerns about ethnic profiling.

In March, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) expressed concern over Greece's response to violence against women noting the lack of statistical data, and urged authorities to ensure that victims have access to immediate means of redress and protection, and that perpetrators are prosecuted and punished.

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