United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1993 - Greece, 30 January 1994, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa7d0.html [accessed 25 November 2015]
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.
Greece is a constitutional republic and parliamentary democracy. In free and fair national parliamentary elections in October, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) won a comfortable majority, and its leader, Andreas Papandreou, became Prime Minister. The defeated New Democracy Party of former Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis assumed the role of the opposition. President Constantine Karamanlis, the largely ceremonial Head of State, was chosen by Parliament in April 1990. The police and security services are subject to a broad variety of legal and constitutional restraints. The Greek Parliament, a vigorous free press, the judiciary, committees and deputies of the European Parliament, and Greek and international human rights organizations monitor their activities. These institutions and groups brought to light cases of improper activities and pressed the Government to put a stop to such activities. The National Intelligence Service in an internal report (which was leaked to the press in August) pointed to non-Greek Orthodox persons and organizations as potentially dangerous to Greece and monitored their activities and maintained dossiers on them. The Mitsotakis Government stated that the report had been immediately withdrawn and that it did not represent its position (see Section 2.c.). The Greek economy has a very large state sector with a strong tradition of patronage. To promote further economic development, Greece relies heavily on the European Community (EC) for subsidies and loans. Political polarization and opposition from labor unions and other groups hamper government efforts to reduce the budget deficit and strengthen the private sector. The Constitution protects, and the authorities generally respect, fundamental human rights. There continued to be reports, investigated and mostly denied by the Government, of Greek border guards and military personnel abusing Albanian illegal aliens, resulting in the deaths of at least four Albanians. A bilateral dispute with Albania in June and July led to mass roundups of Albanians working in Greece most but not all of them illegally and their summary expulsion to Albania. Other human rights problems in 1993 included prosecution of persons who dissented on sensitive foreign policy and minority issues or who "insulted authority," restrictions on religious practice, discrimination against Gypsies, and continued use of Article 19 of the Citizenship Code to revoke the citizenship of Greek citizens who are not ethnic Greeks, despite assurance by senior government officials in 1991 that Article 19 would be repealed.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
Neither government forces nor legal opposition groups engaged in political killing. In contrast to previous years, no lethal terrorist attacks occurred in 1993. However, during 1993 there were allegations that Greek border guards and military personnel killed several Albanians who had illegally entered Greece. The Army is conducting an investigation to determine whether to court-martial a soldier who fatally shot an Albanian immigrant on February 27. In another case three Albanians reportedly fell over a cliff to their deaths when a Greek border patrol fired at them during a night chase through rugged terrain. As a result of the investigation into the case of accused drug dealer Suleyman Akyar, who was reportedly beaten to death in January 1991 while in official custody, the prosecutor proposed that three police officers be charged with using excessive force leading to death, a felony. The three police officers were subsequently exonerated, however, and the official cause of death was ruled to be pneumonia. A German citizen, Ramon Joachim Schulz, died in a prison in Crete in August under questionable circumstances. The official cause of death was listed as a heart attack, but there was strong evidence that he had suffered a severe beating while in detention. The Ministry of Justice opened a further investigation into the case at the request of the German Government.
Amnesty International (AI) reported the disappearance of two ethnic Greeks with Albanian citizenship who were detained by police in Zagora on March 4 and never seen again.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Constitution specifically forbids torture, and a 1984 law makes the use of torture an offense punishable by a sentence of from 3 years to life imprisonment. This law has never been invoked. Although reports of police abuse declined in 1993, defense attorneys and other sources continued to report that the police beat detainees in the initial arrest and investigative phase in order to extract information and confession, and then held detainees in harsh conditions in holding cells. Allegations persisted that police and military personnel beat and otherwise abused illegal Albanian aliens in the process of deporting them, including credible reports of such beatings during the mass expulsions in July (see Section 2.d.). AI issued a report in 1992 describing incidents occurring in 1990 and 1991 in which police and prison guards allegedly tortured or ill-treated individuals or groups of people in their custody. An appendix, summarizing cases raised with the Greek authorities since 1986, included 54 alleged victims in 1991. According to the report, methods of ill-treatment included punching, kicking, and beating with sticks, clubs, or truncheons. Beating on the soles of the feet was also reported. The Government conducted its own internal reviews and reported in 1993 that police and guards in most instances had been exonerated. Although concluding that most AI allegations were groundless, the Minister of Public Order, in public statements in 1992 about terrorism, acknowledged shortcomings in police discipline and promised corrective action. In further conversations about the AI report in September 1993, senior police officials stressed that they had instituted training programs to ensure that proper procedures are followed and that the human rights of detainees are respected. They said that the Ministry had ordered police commanders to carry out serious investigations of reports of abuse, to inspect regularly conditions in police holding cells, and to punish officers who break the law. In March a five-member delegation of the Council of Europe's (COE) Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, assisted by four professional consultants and COE staff, visited over 20 prisons, police stations, and hospitals. The Committee's confidential report to the Government was in preparation at year's end. The Ministry of Justice acknowledged that conditions in many prisons are deplorable. Most prisons are severely overcrowded, particularly the Korydallos prison near Athens, and medical care is inadequate. There were relatively few reports of physical abuse in Greek prisons. According to one credible report, two Albanian prisoners who attempted to escape from a prison on the island of Kos were beaten severely after their recapture. An official of the Ministry of Justice said the case was under investigation. Prison conditions for conscientious objectors, in both civilian and military prisons, have given rise to special concern in recent years. The then minister of national defense acknowledged in a press interview in July that living conditions in the Avlona military prison, where most conscientious objectors formerly were held, were "objectionable and inadmissible." Investigations and visits by deputies of the European Parliament and other groups resulted in much adverse publicity. To begin correcting the situation, the Government transferred about 200 prisoners to the military prison at Sindos, which houses only conscientious objectors and where conditions are far better. However, Sindos prison has a maximum capacity of only 300 prisoners, whereas the number of imprisoned conscientious objectors normally ranges between 350 and 400. As of October, about 35 conscientious objectors were still being held at Avlona, and over 90 were in Kassandra agricultural prison, which consists of a central unit and several outlying stations. A Belgian human rights group which visited parts of the Kassandra prison reported in 1992 that in one station the dormitory was a stable; it was cold and virtually unheated in winter with holes throughout the building. The group also reported abominable sanitary conditions, poor food, and limited and belated medical care of poor quality. The Ministry of Justice acknowledged that conditions at Kassandra prison remain unsatisfactory but claimed that many conscientious objectors sought a transfer to Kassandra despite its bad conditions in order to be able to work and thereby reduce the length of their sentences. The Ministry said it was instituting a similar system of reduced sentences in exchange for work at the Sindos prison, although the Jehovah's Witnesses reported in October that work was available at Sindos for only 65 of the 200 conscientious objectors imprisoned there. About 75 conscientious objectors are also held at the Kassevetia Volos agricultural prison. The same Belgian human rights group described conditions at this prison as far better. The conscientious objectors at Kassevetia Volos themselves described food and sanitary conditions, as well as medical facilities, as satisfactory.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
The Constitution requires judicial warrants for all arrests except during the actual commission of a crime. The legal system protects against arbitrary arrest orders. Police must bring a person arrested on the basis of a warrant or while committing a crime before an examining magistrate within 24 hours. The magistrate must issue a detention warrant or order the release of the detainee within 3 days, unless special circumstances require a 2-day extension of this time limit. Defendants brought to court before the end of the day following the commission of a charged offense may be tried immediately, under a "speedy procedure." Although legal safeguards, including representation by counsel, apply in speedy procedure cases, the short period of time may inhibit the defendant's ability to present an adequate defense. Defendants may ask for a delay to provide time to prepare their defense, but the court is not obliged to grant it. The effective maximum duration of pretrial detention is 18 months for felonies and 9 months for misdemeanors. A panel of judges may grant release pending trial, with or without bail. A person convicted of a misdemeanor and sentenced to 2 years or less may, at the court's discretion, pay a fine in lieu of being imprisoned. Despite these legal safeguards, both AI and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (LCHR) reported that actual practice frequently deviates from prescribed norms. For example, lawyers informed AI that the police frequently interrogated suspects as witnesses, because witnesses do not have the right to legal representation during police questioning. Statements made to the police in these circumstances may be used against these persons in court if they are later charged and brought to trial. AI and the LCHR also reported that detainees are frequently not informed of their rights and that access to a lawyer is denied until after interrogation, which allegedly in some cases included torture or ill-treatment and the signing of a statement. Exile is unconstitutional. However, Greek citizens not of ethnic Greek origin who travel outside the country may be deprived of their citizenship and refused readmittance to the country under Article 19 of the Citizenship Code (see Section 2.d.).
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The judicial system is characterized by three levels of courts, appointed judges, an examining magistrate system, trial by judicial panel, and the right of appeal by both prosecution and defense. The Constitution provides for the independence of the judiciary, but there are credible charges that judges sometimes allow political criteria, including the desire to obtain promotion, to influence their judgments. The Constitution provides for public trials, and trial court sessions are open to the public, unless the court decides that privacy is required to protect victims and witnesses or national security matters. The latter provision is not abused. The defendant enjoys the presumption of innocence, the standard of proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the right to present evidence and witnesses, the right of access to the prosecution's evidence, the right to cross-examine witnesses, and the right to counsel. Lawyers are provided to defendants who are not able to afford legal counsel. The antiterrorism law, enacted in 1990, which also covers murder, kidnaping, and some other crimes, foreshortens trial procedures and provides for mandatory life sentences for these crimes. The new Government announced its intention to repeal this law. Parliament voted to repeal it on December 9. There are no political prisoners in Greece. As noted above, however, there are at any given time from 350 to 400 persons imprisoned for refusing, mainly on religious grounds, to perform military service as Greek law requires (see Section 2.c.).
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The Constitution prohibits invasion of privacy and searches without warrants, and the law permits monitoring personal communications only under strict judicial controls. Judicial warrants showing probable cause are required for home searches, and there are limits on conducting such searches at night. However, the variety of persons and groups subjected to government surveillance in 1993 raised questions about safeguards. Targets included human rights monitors, non-Orthodox religious groups, and members of minority groups who meet with members of the diplomatic community. In one case, the security forces interrogated the family of a controversial academic who writes independently on such topics. In September, however, prosecutors indicted several persons, including a retired general who had served as national security advisor to the president of the New Democracy Party (the president of the party was also Prime Minister of Greece for part of the period in question) on charges of wiretapping political opponents from 1989 to 1991. A Greek human rights monitor charged that a newspaper article, based apparently on a leaked police report of surveillance carried out against him and a visiting international human rights delegation, contained information that could only have been obtained by monitoring his telephone calls.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
Freedom of speech and press is provided for in the Constitution and generally respected in practice, but there are significant exceptions. Some legal restrictions on free speech remain in force and have been invoked the last 2 years in five cases (see details below) concerning the politically sensitive topics of relations with the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia and the question of ethnic minorities within Greece. On these so-called national issues, under the previous government, the authorities gave clear evidence of their intolerance of political dissent; the charges the prosecutors brought in court were based on what the defendants said or wrote, not on violent acts or other criminal behavior. In the main, however, Greece enjoys a tradition of outspoken public discourse and a vigorous free press. Satirical and opposition newspapers do not hesitate to launch scathing and vituperative attacks on the highest state authorities. The new Prime Minister, in his initial policy statement in Parliament, announced his Government's intention, as a matter of immediate priority, to repeal the laws that restrict freedom of speech and press. The law that Parliament approved on December 9 repealed the antiterrorism law and the provision in the Criminal Code that forbade "insulting authority," and it definitively ended prosecutions of "offenses committed by or through the press." As a result of these changes, a number of trials concerning restrictions on freedom of speech initiated under the previous government were terminated. The Constitution allows for seizure (though not prior restraint), by order of the public prosecutor, of publications that insult the President, offend religious beliefs, contain obscene articles, advocate violent overthrow of the political system, or disclose military and defense information. Seizures are rare, however, and did not occur in 1993. However, several Penal Code restrictions have been used to restrict free speech and press. Article 141 of the Penal Code forbids "exposing the friendly relations of the Greek State with foreign states to danger of disturbance"; Article 181, repealed in December, forbade "insulting authority." Article 191 of the Code prohibits "spreading false information and rumors liable to create concern and fear among citizens and cause disturbances in the country's international relations and inciting citizens to rivalry and division, leading to disturbance of the peace." People were arrested for distributing leaflets or booklets denouncing government policy on Macedonia and asserting the existence and mistreatment in Greece of Macedonian and other minorities. In January 1992, a court sentenced six members of an organization to 6 1/2 months' imprisonment for putting up posters which read: "No to Patriots. Recognize Slav-Macedonia." They appealed their conviction, and the appeals court set a date to hear the case in December 1995. In April 1992, police in Athens arrested four students for distributing a leaflet entitled, "The Neighboring Peoples Are Not Our Enemies. No to Nationalism and War." The leaflet opposed the Government's domestic policy regarding Greece's ethnic minorities. A court sentenced them in May to a fine and 19 months in jail. The charges were dropped due to the lifting, as noted above, of restrictions on freedom of speech and press. In May 1992, police arrested five members of a Trotskyite group for distributing a book about "working class" perspectives on Balkan issues, denouncing the rise of Greek nationalism and asserting the existence of a Macedonian minority in Greece. A court acquitted them on May 7, 1993, after a week-long trial. The public prosecutor's office appealed the unanimous verdict, but the charges may be dropped due to the new law that ends prosecution of offenses "committed by or through the press." This is the only known case of the prosecution appealing an acquittal on such charges. In December 1992, a court convicted a 17-year-old high school student on charges of attempting to incite citizens to divisions among themselves, disturbing the peace, and carrying a weapon. He distributed a leaflet that decried excessive nationalism on the Macedonian issue and referred to Alexander the Great as a "war criminal." The court sentenced him to a year in jail. An international human rights organization noted that he was accused of carrying an iron bar but stated that "it was not found, and no evidence was produced in court to corroborate the weapons charge." The student remains free pending appeal which is scheduled for November 1995. In March 1993, a court convicted two minoritiy activists from Greek Macedonia for saying that they "feel Macedonian" and for claiming the existence of a Macedonian minority of 1 million in Greece. This claim conflicts with official government policy, which denies the existence of any minorities other than the Muslim minority recognized in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. The court sentenced them to 5 months in prison and a small fine. Both were free on appeal when the charges were dropped due to the changes in law discussed above. Police in September 1992 charged a leader of the Athens bus drivers' union with "insulting authority" because of remarks he made that questioned the independence of the Greek courts. The charges were dropped when Article 181 was repealed. In October 1992, three journalists with the newspaper O Locos were sentenced to jail terms of from 8 to 18 months, which could be satisfied by paying a fine, for insulting authority by suggesting that the Supreme Court improperly accepted guidance from the Government. The journalists remained free on appeal; the prosecution of this case was terminated when Article 181 was repealed. On April 2, the publisher of the left-of-center Athens daily Ethnos and one of the paper's journalists were convicted of insulting authority for a column written by the journalist and published in the newspaper which stated that not all Thracians had pure Greek blood. (Western Thrace is home to a substantial ethnic Turkish population.) They were sentenced to 7 months' imprisonment but are free pending appeal. Charges are expected to be dropped due to the repeal of Article 181. The antiterrorism law includes a section authorizing the Supreme Court prosecutor to prohibit publicizing specific statements by terrorist groups (specifically, groups acting in concert to commit certain serious felonies, including murder). In September 1992, six publishers and editors went on trial for violating this law in Athens. The court convicted one defendant and sentenced him to a fine and 6 months in jail (which may be satisfied by paying another fine). He appealed his conviction. Prosecution in all six cases ended with the December repeal of the antiterrorism law. The 1975 Constitution says the State exercises "immediate control" over radio and television. An independent, government-appointed body with the authority to enact rules governing private broadcasting established procedural regulations for radio several years ago. In 1993 it did so for television as well, issuing licenses to six private stations. The Government has not instituted any policy for dealing with the large number of private radio and television stations that are operating without licenses. The only government effort to control an unlicensed station occurred just prior to the October elections when the government television station jammed the signal of a new, opposition-oriented television station. However, when the Council of State ruled that this was illegal, the former government ceased the jamming. State-run stations tend to emphasize the Government's views and positions but also report objectively on other parties' programs and positions. In June the governing board of ET, the state-owned television and radio network, resigned in a move widely seen by the press as a government effort to take full control of state-owned broadcast media prior to the fall elections. The board, which resigned, had criticized government officials for attempting to run ET and was considered politically independent. Throughout much of western Thrace, Turkish-language satellite television broadcasts are available to those with access to satellite ground stations. The mayors of two major towns in the region set up two such ground stations for their Turkish-speaking constituents. Fifteen Turkish-language publications 10 weekly newspapers and 5 monthly magazines are published and circulate locally in Thrace, while newspapers and other periodicals from Turkey are distributed only privately in small numbers when brought in by taxis and travelers. Academic freedoms are protected by democratically chosen faculty organizations, though such groups tend to be politicized. It is widely believed that those who engage in public dissent, even in scholarly publications, on sensitive issues like Macedonia and minorities will find it very difficult to pursue an academic career since all universities are state institutions.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly. Police permits are routinely issued for public demonstrations, and there were no reports that the permit requirement was abused. The Constitution provides for the right of association, which is generally respected. In 1991 a "Macedonian Cultural Center" in Florina, organized by Greeks of Slavic descent, lost an appeal of a lower court decision denying it registration because of the use in its title of the word "Macedonian," which the court held would cause "confusion." Government policy holds that Greek citizens of Slavic descent who identify themselves as Macedonians do not constitute a minority (see Section 5). The decision was appealed to the Supreme Court, which has not yet heard the case. Greek authorities, while recognizing a Muslim minority, do not recognize separately an ethnic Turkish minority (see Section 5).
c. Freedom of Religion
The Constitution provides for freedom of religious conscience, but it also limits religious practice by prohibiting proselytizing. It establishes the Greek Orthodox Church, to which perhaps 95 percent of the population at least nominally adhere, as the "prevailing" religion but prohibits discrimination against religious minorities. The Greek Orthodox Church wields significant influence through its relationship with the Ministry of Education and Religion. Theoretically, Greek law prohibits proselytism by anyone, but it apparently is not applied to those spreading the Orthodox faith. The Mormons, who have an active missionary program in Greece, report only occasional harassment by local police. In June, however, police arrested four Mormons in Thessaloniki for proselytizing and jailed them overnight. The following day, the court found them not guilty and released them immediately. The Greek Jehovah's Witnesses organization reported that, as of late June, police had arrested 24 members for proselytizing. Police had detained, warned, and harangued others but released them within a few hours. Of those formally arrested for proselytism, 17 were tried and 4 were convicted and sentenced to between 10 and 15 months' imprisonment plus fines. The courts postponed the trials of the others charged with proselytism. All Jehovah's Witnesses were free while they appealed their sentences. They also had the option of paying a fine of less than $10 per day in lieu of serving their sentences. In May the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the 1986 conviction for proselytism of Minos Kokkinakis, a Greek Jehovah's Witness, violated the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court overturned his conviction and 4-month sentence. It ordered the Government to pay him 400,000 drachmas (about $1,818) in damages and 2,789,500 drachmas (about $12,700) in costs and expenses. The Government paid the money within the time limit specified by the Court. All Greek men, irrespective of religion, are subject to the military draft; the law does not provide for nonmilitary alternative service. (Noncombatant alternative military service has been available since 1977, but the Defense Ministry said in 1992 that no one had ever requested that option.) The courts sentence conscientious objectors, almost all Jehovah's Witnesses, to prison, usually for 4 years (the normal term of military service is from 15 to 23 months), for refusal to perform any kind of military service. As noted in Section l.c., as of October about 400 conscientious objectors were in Greek prisons. The European Parliament, in a human rights resolution of March 11, 1993, stated that it "condemns, in particular, the practice in Greece which treats conscientious objectors as criminals and condemns them to long periods of imprisonment in military prisons." The previous government considered introducing nonmilitary alternative service in 1988 and 1991. However, it claimed it found no legal way to do so without amending the Constitution, which declares that "every Greek capable of bearing arms is obliged to contribute to the defense of the fatherland as provided by law." It relied on the legal counsel of an advisory legal body. In its March 1993 report on conscientious objectors in Greece, AI asserted that this legal body was not an independent authority and its impartiality was not guaranteed; its opinions were not binding on the Government or the courts; and the Minister of Defense was under no procedural obligation to consult it. AI cited other legal counsel and referred to the constitutional provision that "freedom of religious conscience is inviolable." Traditionally, Jehovah's Witnesses ministers were not granted the exemption from military service accorded under Greek law to clergy of "known religions" and thus served prison sentences for refusing military service. Since 1990-91, the Council of State, the Supreme Court dealing with civil and adminstrative matters whose opinions are binding on the Government, has ruled that the Jehovah's Witnesses were a "known religion" and has ordered the release of ministers who had refused induction. However, the recruiting service of the armed forces regarded these rulings as applying only to individual appellants, not as binding precedents for subsequent Jehovah's Witnesses' ministers who were called up. It thus continued to rely, in the first instance, on the opinion of the Ministry of Education and Religions, which in turn accepted the view of the Greek Orthodox Church that the Jehovah's Witnesses are not a "known religion." As a consequence, for the past few years, ministers of the Jehovah's Witnesses have been called up for military service and prosecuted for refusal; only after conviction could they appeal to the Council of State for exemptions as ministers of a "known religion." In practice, these ministers have spent periods of a few months to over a year in jail while appealing their cases to the Council of State. The situation appears to have improved in 1993. The first Jehovah's Witnesses minister called up was able, on an informal basis, to obtain a stay of his induction date until his appeal could be heard. A second such case was pending as the previous government was leaving office in mid-October. The Ministry of Defense confirmed that the Ministry informally has sought to suspend such callups for 2 months to allow for appeals to the Council of State. It is not clear that this informal arrangement will provide enough time to prevent future imprisonment of ministers. Each house of worship in Greece requires the local Orthodox bishop's permission to open and operate. It is not uncommon for such permission to be delayed or even, at times, withheld, though some denominations are able to open and operate churches in the guise of cultural centers. However, in 1993 a court sentenced three Jehovah's Witnesses to 1 month each for operating a house of worship without permission. After losing appeals to the Supreme Court over the closure of two houses of worship, the Jehovah's Witnesses appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, seeking to overturn both the particular decisions of the Greek courts and the law requiring permission of the local Orthodox bishop for a non-Orthodox denomination or religion to open a house of worship. Several denominations report difficulties in getting residence permits for foreign members of their faiths who come to Greece to perform missionary or charity work. One denomination filed a suit in court to obtain the permits. Some denominations are also considering bringing only nationals of other EC countries to work in Greece, rather than Americans or other foreigners, since EC regulations would facilitate their ability to stay and work in the country. Mosques and other Muslim religious institutions operate in western Thrace, where most Greek citizens of the Muslim faith reside. Some Muslims claim that Greek law weakens the financial autonomy of the "wakfs," community funds used for maintaining mosques and for charitable works, by placing the wakfs under the administration of appointed muftis (Islamic judges and religious leaders). The Treaty of Lausanne contains language allowing minorities to control their charitable institutions. In accordance with a 1990 presidential decree, the State appoints the three muftis in Greece, all resident in western Thrace. According to government policy, muftis must be appointed because, in addition to their religious duties, they perform judicial functions in many civil and domestic matters, for which the State pays them. The selection process includes formal consultations with local Muslim leaders. The Muslim minority is divided on the mufti selection issue. Some Muslims accept the authority of the appointed muftis while others insist on their right to elect the muftis who will serve their communities. In February four muftis from Turkey were expelled for preaching in western Thrace without the permission of the Greek Government or the muftis appointed by it.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The Constitution protects freedom of movement within the country, foreign travel, and emigration. Ethnic Greeks intending to emigrate, and emigrants who return to Greece, experience no discrimination with respect to freedom of movement. However, Article 19 of the Greek Citizenship Code distinguishes between Greek citizens who are ethnic Greeks and those who are not. Greek citizens who are not ethnic Greeks may be deprived of citizenship if it is determined that they left Greece with the apparent intent not to return. However, immigrants who are ethnic Greeks are normally recognized as Greek citizens and accorded full rights, despite years or even generations of absence from Greece. Most Article 19 cases involve primarily ethnic Turks from western Thrace. The Interior Ministry initiates proceedings under Article 19 on the basis of reports by local authorities in Greece or by Greek embassies or consulates abroad. It holds a hearing at which the affected person is not present, nor is the affected person notified of the hearing. Those who lose Greek citizenship as a result of such hearings sometimes learn of this loss only when they seek to reenter Greece. According to the Foreign Ministry, 123 persons lost Greek citizenship under Article 19 in 1993; 3 of them have filed administrative appeals which are still pending. Despite the repeated assurances since 1991 of the previous government's senior officials that Article 19 would be abolished, the previous government did not introduce the requisite legislation in Parliament. The new Government has not yet stated its intentions. Persons who lose their Greek citizenship under Article 19 have the right of "administrative appeal" to the Interior Ministry and may also appeal to the Greek Council of State and to the Council of Europe. Leaders of the Turkish-origin Greek community complain that the time and expense involved tend to discourage such appeals. Greece maintains a restricted military zone along its northern border with Bulgaria, in areas where many Pomaks (Muslims who speak a Bulgarian dialect) reside. Since entry into the zone is strictly controlled, even for local inhabitants, some residents of the area complain that their freedom of movement is restricted. Foreign diplomats are allowed into the zone only under escort and with special authorization. Greece frequently offers temporary asylum, though rarely permanent resettlement, to a growing number of refugees from Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Greece is increasingly a transit country for economic migrants. Increasing numbers of Pakistanis and Iraqi Chaldeans and Kurds are attempting to enter Greece illegally. Through June, Greece had received requests from 595 persons for asylum status. It granted such status to 53 persons and denied it to 909 persons (a number of whom had applied prior to 1993). Although a party to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Greece reserved on the provision that would allow refugees to work. Refugees may not enter the Greek labor market but may be self-employed. A recently enacted Greek law, which lacks as yet the necessary implementing decree, would provide some professional rehabilitation and accommodations for refugees. Several United Nations and Greek organizations assist refugees with shelter, food, medical care, education, and legal counseling, but the funding and level of assistance of these agencies is very limited. Ethnic Greek immigrants, such as those who have come from the former Soviet Union since 1986 and those rescued from the civil war in Georgia, normally qualify for immediate citizenship and special assistance from the Government. The 1,000 ethnic Greeks from Georgia were resettled in western Thrace, raising concerns among the ethnic Turkish minority that they would lose jobs to the newcomers. Permanent resettlement in Greece is not usually available for nonethnic Greek refugees. Chams, ethnic Albanians who were deported from northern Greece in the late 1940's, have requested reinstatement of their Greek citizenship and property confiscated at that time. The Government expressed a willingness to discuss compensation for property but does not recognize their alleged historic claim to citizenship. Following the Albanian Government's expulsion of a senior cleric of the Greek Orthodox Church, accused of meddling in Albanian internal affairs, a charge denied by both the Greek Government and the cleric, Greece responded with mass roundups and summary expulsions of Albanians working in Greece, most of them illegaly. Credible reports suggest at least 10,000 were expelled. (Other reports say as many as 25,000.) Greek security forces reportedly beat some Albanians and gave them no chance to take their possessions with them. There were also unconfirmed allegations that some had money taken from them during the process of expulsion.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
Greece is a multiparty democracy in which the Constitution guarantees full political rights for all citizens. (See Section 5 for allegations of limitations on the ability of some Gypsies to vote.) Members of the unicameral 300-seat Parliament are elected to maximum 4-year terms by secret ballot. The government headed by Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis, leader of the New Democratic Party, lost its majority in Parliament in September and called new elections in October. The opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) won the free and fair elections and formed a new Government headed by Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou. The transition was prompt, smooth, and orderly. Parliament elects the President for a 5-year term. Universal suffrage for those over age 18 is compulsory and enforced by fines and administrative penalties. Opposition parties function freely and have broad access to the media. Under a 1990 electoral law, no candidate may be elected whose party does not receive 3 percent or more of the nationwide vote. This law also applies to independent candidates. As a result, neither of Greece's former independent Muslim members of Parliament, both of whom proclaim their Turkish ethnic identity, was reelected to Parliament in 1993. A third Muslim running as a member of PASOK resigned from the party when it demanded he stop identifying himself as an ethnic Turk. In the province of Rodopi, the Muslim independent candidate received more votes than any other parliamentary candidate and yet could not be seated because he did not receive 3 percent of the total national vote. Although there was no lack of Muslim candidates in the ranks of the major parties in 1993 (10 altogether), no Muslim was elected. In the October national elections in Greece, a "Macedonian" independent parliamentary candidate from Florina received 369 votes out of a total of 44,855 votes cast in the district. There are no legal restrictions on the participation of women in government or politics. Women's representation at the higher levels of Greek political life is increasing but remains low. The head of the Communist party is a woman. Women hold 3 of the 45 ministerial and deputy ministerial seats in the Government that took office in October. Women are represented, though not yet widely, in the leadership of the two largest parties (New Democracy and PASOK).
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
Domestic human rights organizations are allowed to operate, although the Government monitors their activities and may or may not cooperate with them. The Government did not obstruct human rights organizations' visits and investigations, although a delegation from Helsinki Watch did not come to a scheduled meeting in June with a deputy foreign minister once it became clear that a Greek associate of the delegation would be excluded from it. The Greek security services monitored the activities of the Helsinki Watch delegation and its Greek associates. Another international human rights group said that the Government was not forthcoming with information about cases of alleged police abuse of detainees the group raised. The Government, in principle, respects the right of foreign diplomats to meet with Greek officials and other citizens, including critics of official policy, and such contacts normally take place without adverse reaction. Occasionally, however, senior government officials make known their unhappiness over such meetings, particularly with activist members of minority groups or communities. It is also clear that the security services closely monitor such contacts.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status
There are broad constitutional and legal protections for women, including equal pay for equal work. The General Secretariat for Equality of the Sexes, an independent government agency, charged that the law was not consistently enforced. Official statistics show that the average wages of women in manufacturing establishments are 47 percent lower than those of men in comparable positions, and wages of women in wholesale trade are 24 percent lower that those of men in comparable positions. Women are gradually entering traditionally male-dominated occupations, including the higher echelons of business. The General Secretariat for Equality of the Sexes coordinates efforts to remove barriers. Women's groups say that women in public service face a "glass ceiling" when considered for promotion. The Government elected in October listed progress on women's issues as a high priority. Muslim women in western Thrace have the option of Islamic or civil marriage and Islamic or civil jurisdiction in domestic disputes. There is a strong cultural bias against reporting cases of rape, incest, or wife beating, and police and local authorities generally do not intervene in domestic conflicts. Women's groups have identified violence against women as a significant problem. As a result of pressure from these groups, a Center for Battered Women, run by the General Secretariat for Equality of the Sexes, started operating in Athens at the beginning of 1993. It is apparently the only such center in the country. It received 250 women in 1993. The highly cohesive Greek society and family structure tolerate a high degree of verbal confrontation but do not tolerate violence. The level of physical violence, whether resulting from domestic conflict or common crime, is remarkably low. However, verbal abuse of women in Greece is common. The General Secretariat for Equality of the Sexes claims that the courts are lenient when dealing with wife-beating cases, but the Secretariat expects that to change due to the increasing number of women who are entering the judiciary.
Greece has legislation protecting children from all forms of maltreatment perpetrated by parents or others responsible for their care. However, there is a strong cultural bias against reporting cases of domestic violence. The State undertakes preventive and treatment programs for abused children and for children deprived of their family environment, ensuring that alternative family care or institutional placement is made available to them. However, children's rights advocacy groups claim that protection of high-risk children in state residential care centers is inadequate and of low quality. Immunization and vaccination of children against tetanus, measles, whooping cough, and other children's diseases is mandatory, free of charge, and provided for by specific legislation. Polio and neonatal tetanus have been eradicated. The mortality rate for children under 5 years of age, which was 64 per thousand in 1960, dropped to 11 per thousand in 1990. However, access of Gypsy children and illegal migrants to free state services, such as education and medical care, is very low, primarily due to their itinerant lifestyle.
There are communities in Greece which identify themselves as Turks, Pomaks, Vlachs, Gypsies, and Macedonians. Many are fully integrated into Greek society. Of these, ethnic Turks form the largest group. The only minority Greece formally recognizes is a "Muslim minority," which is referred to in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. The Government insists on the use of this rubric to refer to several different ethnic communities, most of which adhere to the Muslim faith. The Muslim minority is comprised primarily of ethnic Turks or Turkish speakers in western Thrace, which the Government estimates at roughly 120,000 persons. In addition to people of Turkish origin, it includes Pomaks (Muslims who speak a language akin to Bulgarian) and Gypsies. Many Greek Muslims, including Pomaks, identify themselves as Turks and say that the Muslim minority as a whole has a Turkish cultural consciousness. The use of the word "tourkos" ("Turk") is prohibited in titles of organizations, though individuals may legally call themselves "tourkos." To most Greeks, the word "tourkos" connotes Turkish citizenship and loyalties, and many object to its use by Greek citizens of Turkish origin. Use of a similar adjective, "tourkoyennis" (of Turkish descent/affiliation/ethnicity), however, is allowed (see also Section 2.b.). Northern Greece is home to an indeterminate number (estimates range from under 10,000 to 50,000 or more) of Greek citizens who are descended from Slavs. Some still speak a Slavic dialect that some call Macedonian, particularly in the Florina district, where there is a substantial slavophone population. A small number of them consider themselves to be members of a distinct ethnic group which they identify as Macedonian, and assert their right to minority status. One activist who identified himself as Macedonian was subject to a punitive job transfer in his civil service career as a result of his activism. Organizations of self-identified Slavic Macedonians are not allowed to use the word "Macedonian" in their names. In 1991 the Thessaloniki appellate court upheld a ban against a cultural center in Florina on these grounds (see Section 2.b.). That organization appealed to the Supreme Court, which has not yet ruled on the case. Individual citizens are free to speak the Slavic dialect in public and perform Slavic dances and music openly. However, some Greeks of Slavic descent reportedly do not proclaim themselves Macedonian for fear of losing their jobs in the public sector or being penalized, e.g., through a punitive job transfer. The Secretariat for Adult Education (a government agency) estimates the number of Gypsies in Greece is between 120,000 and 150,000. Gypsies (both Christian and Muslim) are scattered throughout the country. Most Greek Gypsies are at least nominally Greek Orthodox, with Greek names, who speak Romany at home but Greek in public transactions. In western Thrace, Gypsies tend to be Muslim, with Turkish names and some knowledge of the Turkish language. The Government estimates the Muslim Gypsy population to be 22,000. The official government policy is to encourage Gypsies to assimilate. For those who do not, illiteracy, poverty, crime, and social prejudice continue to be significant problems. Some municipalities attempt to prevent settlement by Gypsies, refusing to register them as citizens. (All Greek citizens are required to be registered in a municipality.) Without such registration, Gypsies are not allowed to vote, cannot obtain papers required to start a business, and are excluded from a range of government services. Some Muslims also live on Greek islands near the Turkish coast or in Athens and other industrial areas. Muslim villages usually elect Muslim-dominated local governments. In Komotini and Xanthi, both Muslims and non-Muslims hold seats on the town councils. Employment of Muslims in the public sector is much lower than the Muslim share of the population. Some ethnic Turks claim that they are hired only in small numbers for lower level public sector employment and rarely, or not at all, at higher levels. The Government cites their lack of fluency in Greek, as well as the need for a university degree for high-level positions, as factors limiting the number of Muslims eligible for public employment. Public offices in Thrace do their business in Greek; the courts provide interpreters as needed. In the Komotini district in Thrace, where many members of the Muslim minority live, the office of the district governor ("nomarch") has interpreters available. The Treaty of Lausanne guarantees the Muslim minority the right to Turkish-language education, with a reciprocal entitlement for the Greek minority in Istanbul. Western Thrace has both Koranic and secular Turkish-language schools. Government disputes with Turkey over teachers and textbooks caused these secular schools serious problems in obtaining sufficient numbers and quality of faculty and teaching materials. Over 9,000 Muslim children attend Turkish-language primary schools. Around 650 attend Turkish-language secondary schools, and approximately 1,000 attend Greek-language secondary schools. Many Muslims reportedly go to high school in Turkey due to the limited number of places in the Turkish-language secondary schools, which are assigned by lottery. Very few graduates of the Muslim secondary school system attend Greek universities. To address some of these problems, the Greek Government issued new Turkish-language elementary texts, prepared in Greece, on a variety of subjects in early 1993. Texts on mathematics, science, and other subjects were also received from the Turkish Government. The Greek Government reviewed their content in time for the beginning of the school year in September. It accepted 14 science and mathematics texts, returned 2 texts for requested changes, and rejected 2 others. However, some Turkish-origin Greeks object to having their schools use teaching materials prepared in Greece and say the texts violate a 1968 Greek-Turkish educational protocol. In the wake of unlawful seizures of these texts by Turkish activists, two activists received sentences of 21 months in prison and one received 15 months, but all had their convictions reversed on appeal; six persons were sentenced to 17 months in jail but are free pending their appeal; and one was acquitted in his original trial. Some Turkish-origin Greeks complain that it is difficult to obtain permission to bring in teachers from Turkey or to hire Turkish-speaking teachers locally, particularly for the secular Turkish-language middle schools in Xanthi and Komotini. Under the 1968 educational protocol, Greece and Turkey may annually exchange up to 35 teachers each to serve, respectively, in Istanbul and western Thrace. In 1992 Greece sent 16 teachers to Istanbul and admitted 16 of the 35 high school teachers whom Turkey nominated to teach in Thrace. The Foreign Ministry reports that the 16 teachers from Turkey took part in February in a 1-week "Muslim" teachers' strike to protest the Turkish-language elementary textbooks that had been produced in Greece. Negotiations for a Greek-Turkish teacher exchange for the 1993-94 school year are reportedly still under way.
Leaders of various non-Orthodox religious groups assert that their members face discrimination in reaching senior rank in government service, particularly in the security services. They allege that to avoid this glass ceiling some members of their faiths resort to declaring themselves Orthodox. Senior government officials, when questioned about such allegations of discrimination, deny that it exists and point to certain persons not of the Orthodox faith who have had successful careers in government service. There appears to be no scholarly research on this issue. A number of Jehovah's Witnesses reported difficulties in employment. An accountant who had earlier been imprisoned as a conscientious objector passed his accountancy examination, but the appropriate regulatory board did not certify him because he had a conviction on his record. He took a factory job while awaiting the outcome of his 1989 appeal to the Council of State. Several fully certified Jehovah's Witnesses teachers have also faced difficulties in gaining employment in recent years. In one well-documented case that began in 1991, a middle-ranking official of the Ministry of Education, in a memorandum to a local educational official on the issuance of a teaching permit to a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses or the Baha'i religion, stated that according to the Ministry's "legal consultants...it was not permissible to endorse the appointment to Greek schools of educators who do not believe in the Greek Orthodox religion." The local official in turn wrote the applicant, who wished to teach in a private school, that he could not have a teaching permit in accordance with the "attached document issued by the Ministry of Education and Religion." A public school principal was demoted to teacher, and another Jehovah's Witness was denied permission to open a private school. As a result of such difficulties, a total of six Jehovah's Witnesses have appeals pending with the Council of State. The European Parliament adopted a resolution on January 21 which, inter alia, criticized the decision of the Greek Government to require that Greek citizens declare their religion on the bilingual identity cards that allow Greeks to travel freely within the European Community. The resolution ascribed the decision to "pressure from the Orthodox clergy in particular" and referred to the "concern this decision has aroused among the Catholic and Jewish religious minorities." The resolution stated that the Parliament "disapproves of the...decision," termed it "a constraint on individual freedom" and called on the "Greek Government to revoke this decision." The Government in May sought the authority to drop this requirement, but the Parliament refused to grant it. A sharp political controversy erupted in August when an opposition newspaper obtained a copy of, and printed excerpts from, an internal report of the National Intelligence Service about the dangers to Greece allegedly posed by non-Orthodox denominations. The report argued that "any Greek who is not Greek Orthodox is not a genuine, incorruptible, pure Greek," and that the leaders and adherents of non-Orthodox organizations are characterized for the most part as having a "lessened national conscience." The report suggested that "the State must take appropriate measures," specifically recommending steps to ensure that the "radio and television channels which are under the control of religious heretics will not be permitted to operate." The report claimed "the Vatican has not renounced...its firm aspirations toward a Latinization of the Greek people" and also evinced strong suspicions of Protestants, Pentecostals, and Jehovah's Witnesses; a companion report leaked to the press showed that the Intelligence Service was keeping them under surveillance and maintaining dossiers on their activities. The Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a strong letter of protest to the Prime Minister, denouncing the report's slurs on patriotic but non-Orthodox Greeks and asking that he disown the report of the Intelligence Service and the tactics it recommended. The former government replied that the report was undertaken by a low-ranking functionary, that it was withdrawn immediately when it came to the attention of higher authorities, and that it did not represent the official position of the Government. However, the press, both secular and Catholic, published a facsimile of a letter of commendation from the then director of the National Intelligence Service to the author of the report, stating that it was "thorough, detailed, and well documented."
People with Disabilities
Greece has specific legislation mandating hiring of disabled persons in public and private enterprises employing more than 50 persons. However, the law is inadequately enforced, particularly in the private sector. The law provides that disabled persons should comprise 3 percent of staff in private enterprises. In the civil service, 5 percent of administrative staff and 80 percent of telephone operator positions are reserved for disabled persons. Physical access for disabled persons to all kinds of private and public buildings is provided by the construction code, but the law is poorly enforced. In 1993 the Government started replacing old city buses with new ones with stairs specially designed for the disabled. Greece has special centers, both government-funded and privately funded, for handicapped and disabled children and adults, which provide education and training designed to help them achieve self-reliance and lead a full life in society. However, the number of such centers as well as the total number of disabled persons in Greece is not available. The Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Social Security and children's rights advocacy groups cite statistics showing a 93-percent increase of budgetary funds for welfare during the 1990-92 period, a 53-percent increase in the number of disabled persons who attended vocational training programs, and a 28-percent increase in allowances to disabled persons.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
The Constitution, and subsequent legislation passed in 1987 and 1992, provide for the right of association. All workers, with the exception of the military and the police, have the right to form or join unions. Approximately 35 percent of Greek workers (nearly 1.5 million persons) were organized in unions in 1993. Unions receive most of their funding from a Ministry of Labor organization, the Workers' Hearth, which distributes mandatory contributions from employees and employers. Only the five most powerful public sector unions have dues-withholding provisions in their contracts, in addition to receiving Workers' Hearth subsidies. The International Labor Organization's (ILO) Committee of Experts acknowledged in 1993 that Act No. 1915 of 1990 seems to give effect to ILO recommendations that the Government end its financial interference in trade union affairs and in the collection of union dues. Over 4,000 unions are grouped into regional and sectoral federations and two umbrella confederations, one for civil servants and one for private sector employees. Unions are highly politicized, and there are party-affiliated factions within the labor confederations, but they are not controlled by political parties or the Government in day-to-day operations. There are no restrictions on who may serve as a union official. Greek unions maintain a variety of international affiliations and are free to join federations and confederations. Legislation passed in 1990 mandates a skeleton staff during strikes affecting public services, such as electricity, transportation, communications, and banking. During strikes in June and July, skeleton staffs did not completely ensure that essential services continued uninterrupted; however, there were no repercussions against the unions. The previous government's 1992 lawsuit against the electric company workers' union, filed under the skeleton staff provision, is still pending in the courts. In 1993 the ILO's Committee of Experts requested the Government to guarantee that workers' organizations participate in defining the minimum services to be maintained in the event of a strike. More than 200 strikes occurred in 1993, including a number in July and August by public utility workers protesting privatization legislation. While numerous, electric company strikes did not prove as disruptive as in the past. However, bus strikes in December and January in opposition to government moves to deprivatize the Athens bus system proved extremely disruptive and were marred by violence. As of January 4, 1994, the dispute between the Government and bus drivers had not been resolved. Major legal restrictions on strikes include a mandatory period of notice, which is 96 hours for public utilities and 24 hours for the private sector. Public corporations, including utility companies, state-owned banks, the postal service, Olympic Airways and the railroads are also required to maintain a skeleton staff during strikes. The size of the skeleton staff is determined by the Ministry of Labor in conjunction with the management of the particular public corporation. The courts have the power to declare strikes illegal, although such decisions are seldom enforced. Unions complain, however, that this judicial power serves as a deterrent to some of their membership from participating in strikes. The courts declared a majority of the strikes illegal for a variety of reasons, without any repercussions. The Government may also declare "civil mobilization" of workers in case of danger to national security, life, or property, or the social and economic life of the country. The ILO Committee of Experts has criticized this power as violating the standards of ILO Convention 29 on forced labor. The Government did not resort to civil mobilization during 1993. Two ILO bodies expressed hope in 1993 that counterinflationary legislation passed in 1992, suspending collective bargaining and wage increases in the public sector for the duration of the year, had lapsed. In response to union complaints that most labor disputes ended in compulsory arbitration, legislative remedies were enacted in 1989 providing for mediation procedures, with compulsory arbitration as a last resort. The legislation establishing a national mediation, reconciliation, and arbitration organization went into effect in January 1992 and applies to the public sector and public corporations (the military and civil service excluded). However, a government decree in early 1993 setting limits to wage and salary increases for public enterprises diminished the scope of the organization and was the basis for a complaint lodged with the ILO by the Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) for violation of ILO Conventions 98 and 87. The complaint is still pending with the ILO.
b. The Right To Organize and Bargain Collectively
Legislation passed in 1955 and amended in 1990 ensures the right to organize and bargain collectively in the private sector and in public corporations. These rights are respected in practice. There are no restrictions on collective bargaining for private sector employees. Civil servants, who have no formal system of collective bargaining, collectively negotiate their demands with the Office of the Minister to the Prime Minister, with which the final decision rests. Antiunion discrimination is prohibited. The Labor Inspectorate or the courts investigate and work to resolve complaints of discrimination against union members or organizers. Court rulings have mandated the reinstatement of improperly fired union organizers. Greece has no export processing zones.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by the Constitution and is not practiced. The Ministry of Justice enforces this prohibition.
d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
The minimum age for employment in the industrial sector is 15, with higher limits for certain activities. The minimum age is 12 in family businesses, theaters, and the cinema. These age limits are enforced by occasional Labor Inspectorate spot checks and are generally respected. However, families engaged in agriculture, food service, or merchandising often have younger family members assisting them, at least part-time. Education is free and compulsory for all children through the ninth grade.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
Collective bargaining between the GSEE and the employers' association determines a nationwide minimum wage. The Ministry of Labor routinely ratifies this minimum wage, which has the force of law and applies to all Greek workers. The minimum wage is sufficient for a decent standard of living for a worker and family. The minimum daily wage is approximately $19; the minimum monthly salary is approximately $430. The maximum legal workweek is 40 hours in the private sector and 37 1/2 hours in the public sector. A law that took effect in 1992 significantly extended legal operating hours for retail establishments, provided that the average workweek did not exceed the legal maximum over a period of time. The law provides for at least one 24-hour rest period per week, mandates paid vacation of 1 month per year, and sets limits on overtime. Legislation provides for minimum standards of occupational health and safety. Although the GSEE characterizes health and safety legislation as satisfactory, it charges that enforcement, the responsibility of the Labor Inspectorate, is inadequate. In 1992 GSEE cited statistics indicating a fairly high number of job-related accidents over the past two decades. Inadequate inspection, failure to enforce regulations, outdated industrial plant and equipment, and poor safety training of employees contribute to the accident rate. Workers do not have the legal right to remove themselves from situations they believe endanger their health. They have the right, however, to lodge a complaint with the Labor Inspectorate, and inspectors are prohibited from divulging the name of the worker who lodged the complaint. Inspectors have the right to close down machinery or a process for a period of up to 5 days if they see a safety or health hazard they believe represents an imminent danger to the workers.