U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Greece
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||30 January 1998|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Greece, 30 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa838.html [accessed 18 April 2015]|
|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.|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.
GREECEGreece is a constitutional republic and multiparty parliamentary democracy with an independent judiciary in which citizens choose their representatives in free and fair elections. The Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) holds a majority of parliamentary seats, and its leader, Constantine Simitis, has been Prime Minister since 1996. The New Democracy Party is the main opposition party. The national police and security services are responsible for internal security. Civilian authorities maintain effective control of all security forces, and police and security services are subject to a broad variety of restraints. Some members of the police and security forces committed human rights abuses. Greece has a market economy with a large public sector that accounts for roughly 40 percent of gross domestic product. Residents enjoy a relatively advanced standard of living. European Union subsidies, grants, and loans, the latter two directed mainly toward major infrastructure projects, reinforce government economic development efforts. The Government respected the human rights of most citizens, but problems remain in some areas. Security force personnel sometimes abused suspects during arrests and interrogations and abused illegal aliens. The Government continued to take corrective action to relieve severe overcrowding and harsh living conditions in some prisons. It continued to use Article 19 of the Citizenship Code to revoke the citizenship of Greek citizens who are not ethnically Greek, and Article 20 of the same code was used to revoke the citizenship of some Greek citizens abroad who asserted a "Macedonian" ethnicity. On occasion the Government placed international and domestic human rights monitors, non-Orthodox religious groups, and minority groups under surveillance. Some restrictions on freedom of religion persisted; the Government investigated and arrested members of non-Orthodox religions for proselytism. Discrimination against minorities continued to be a problem. The Government formally recognizes only the Muslim minority specified in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. It refuses to acknowledge formally the existence of any other ethnic groups, principally Slavophones, under the term "minority." As a result, some individuals who define themselves as members of a minority find it difficult to express their identity freely and to maintain their culture.