Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2006 - Greece
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Publication Date||14 March 2007|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2006 - Greece, 14 March 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48747cebb.html [accessed 30 October 2014]|
|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.|
Ongoing harassment of GHM
Defamation campaign and judicial proceedings against GHM20
On January 20, 2006, during an interview with Radio Omega, Mr. Anastassios Kanellopoulos, head of the Appeals Prosecutor's office, announced the opening of a preliminary investigation following the protests of Patras residents who alleged that six Roma families were dumping litter in a river in the Makrigianni district. Mr. Kanellopoulos indicated that he would identify those responsible for such acts and their accomplices, and implicitly suggested that such persons might include members of the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), an organisation known for its work on behalf of the Roma people. Several weeks earlier, GHM had requested that the Prosecutor open an investigation into a series of illegal evictions, assaults and acts of discrimination against the Roma people.
On June 26, 2006, Mr. Kanellopoulos stated before the heads of the neighbourhood associations in favour of the evictions, that a criminal investigation was underway against everyone who had supported and defended the rights of the six Roma families. He specifically mentioned GHM and two judges who had quashed several decisions ordering the eviction of the Roma from Makrigianni and Riganokampos in 2005.
On July 5, 2006, Mr. Kanellopoulos, referring to the case pending before the court, claimed that "GHM had incited the Roma people to breach the law".
In late 2006, GHM had still not been summoned nor questioned in relation to these two pending cases and the investigations announced by the Prosecutor remained pending.
On September 27, 2006, GHM lodged a complaint against Mr. Lambros Sofoulakis, president of the Patras Court, and Mr. Anastassios Kanellopoulos for "defamation", "abuse of power", and "racist remarks against the Roma people" that had been reported by the press. An investigation was opened and Mr. Yannis Halilopoulos, president of the Greek Gypsy Union as well as representatives of the human rights department of the Socialist Party (Panellínio Sosialistikó Kínima – PASOK) and of the coalition of the Left and Progressive Parties (Synaspismos) were interrogated.
As of the end of 2006, the investigation remained pending.
Defamation against Messrs. Theodore Alexandridis and Panayote Dimitras21
On March 2, 2006, Mr. Theodore Alexandridis, GHM legal counsel, filed a complaint against Mr. Spyros Demartinos, the mayor of Patras and a member of Parliament, who had accused him, during a press conference on December 22, 2005, of "preventing a Roma from destroying his shelter" and of discouraging Roma people from introducing requests for allowances and benefits.
After a preliminary investigation, the Athens Prosecutor's office referred the case to the court and scheduled a hearing for October 30, 2006. However, as the accused appealed the referral, the hearing was cancelled and the trial suspended.
As of the end of 2006, the charges remained pending.
In August 2006, Mr. Spyros Demartinos further criticised Mr. Panayote Dimitras, GHM spokesman, and accused him of "preventing Roma people from finding adequate housing", implying that Mr. Dimitras was trying to make a profit from the fact that the Roma peoples were poorly housed.
On August 13, 2006, GHM had issued a press release indicating that, according to the official data sent to the European Committee of Social Rights in November 2004, only 44 out of the 344 applications for housing allowances had been acceded to and only a minority of the Roma in Patras had benefited from such allowances.
On September 8, 2006, Mr. Demartinos accused GHM and Mr. Dimitras of inciting Roma peoples to going back to living in camps.
On November 8, 2006, Mr. Dimitras was accused by the Prefect of Achaia of "repeatedly ridiculing the country by criticising the authorities' attitude towards the Roma people" during a meeting on the housing of asylum-seekers.
Finally, the Prosecutor decided to examine the two complaints lodged by and against Mr. Alexandridis in late 2005. Indeed, on October 13, 2005, Mr. Alexandridis had filed a complaint with the police against the parents of pupils who had assaulted him and several Roma children during a protest against those children's expulsion from their school in Aspropyrgos, near Athens. The president of the Parents' Association had subsequently filed a complaint against Mr. Alexandridis for "libel" and "defamation". As of the the end of 2006, no date had been set for the hearing of these charges.
Threats against Mr. Yannis Halilopoulos22
On August 25, 2006, the authorities threatened to arrest Mr. Yannis Halilopoulos, president of the Greek Gypsy Union, while he was filming the eviction of Roma people from Patras.
Furthermore, on September 26, 2006, the municipal authorities prevented Mr. Halilopoulos from attending a meeting between the mayor and deputy-mayor of Patras and the representative of the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner on the grounds that he was not an official representative of the Roma communities.
[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]
20. See Open Letter to the Greek authorities, March 2, 2006.
21. See Annual Report 2005.
22. See GHM.