World Report 2012 - European Union: Greece
|Publisher||Human Rights Watch|
|Publication Date||22 January 2012|
|Cite as||Human Rights Watch, World Report 2012 - European Union: Greece, 22 January 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4f2007ddc.html [accessed 19 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This 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.|
Critical problems with the asylum system persisted, despite an official increase in the refugee recognition rate to 12.35 percent (including appeals) in the first seven months of the year. Access to asylum and review of claims at first instance remained problematic, with the new asylum service – created in a January law – expected to become fully operational only in 2012. Organizational and technical problems hampered the work of appeals committees established to tackle the backlog, which the government calculated in September at 38,000.
Migrants and asylum seekers, including women and families with children, continued to be detained in inhumane conditions. There was a chorus of criticism of migrant detention conditions in Greece, including in March by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, the CoE Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), and CoE Secretary General Thorbørn Jagland.
Numerous countries expressed concern about the situation of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in Greece during its Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in May and urged Greece to take effective measures, including prosecution against discrimination, racism, and xenophobia.
Racist violence in Athens was a serious problem. The Pakistani Community of Greece documented attacks on 60 Pakistani men in the first three months of 2011. Far-right extremists rampaged through immigrant neighborhoods in May, leaving at least 25 people hospitalized with stab wounds or severe beatings. Two men and one woman were due to stand trial in December for the September assault and serious injury of a 24-year-old asylum seeker.
There were frequent demonstrations and strikes against austerity measures during the year, with fears that cuts to wages, pensions, and social spending are disproportionately affecting the poor, persons with disabilities, the elderly, migrants, and ethnic minorities.
The Athens prosecutor's office opened an investigation in July into allegations of excessive and indiscriminate police use of force, including tear gas, during a June protest. The investigation was ongoing at this writing. A police officer was arrested in October for assaulting a news photographer at an anti-austerity rally the same month.
In March the Ombuds Institute published a damning report on abuses against children with disabilities at the Children's Care Center of Lechaina, including the use of cage beds, tying children to their beds, and routine sedation. As of September the number of staff at the center had increased, but concerns persisted about conditions and treatment.
Roma continued to face systemic discrimination in housing and education. In March the ECtHR agreed to examine a school segregation case brought by 140 Roma children and parents. Greek authorities failed to implement a 2008 ECtHR ruling on school segregation involving the same families.