Damning report on detention of migrants in Greece

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) has just published its latest report on Greece, following a visit in April 2018.

Concerning foreign nationals detained under aliens’ legislation, the report says that: 

-          Fundamental safeguards against ill-treatment remain ineffective and, for the most part, do not apply in practice from the very outset of deprivation of liberty 

-          Conditions of detention in most police and border guard stations visited remain unsuitable for holding persons for periods exceeding 24 hours, and yet they were still being used to detain irregular migrants for prolonged periods; at Isaakio Police and Border Guard Station, 41 foreign nationals were crammed together overnight in filthy and grossly sub-standard material conditions, with less than 1.5 m² of living space per person 

-          Conditions in the pre-removal centres visited varied from good to appalling. In particular, Fylakio Pre-removal Centre was severely overcrowded, with up to 95 foreign nationals, including families, children, and pregnant women, crammed together in a cell with little more than 1 m² of living space per person.

In the CPT’s view, holding persons for several weeks or months in such appalling conditions can easily be considered as amounting to inhuman and degrading treatment [which is prohibited under the European Convention on Human Rights] 

-          In most of the detention places visited, the Committee noted chronically insufficient numbers of health-care staff and deficient interpretation services.

 Even the most basic medical equipment and medication was lacking; medical screening on arrival was not carried out systematically; and access to a doctor was still not effective in practice 

-          Several foreign nationals interviewed in private at three places of detention made credible allegations about the occurrence of push-back operations from Greece to Turkey by boat across the Evros River border, after they had been apprehended by Greek police and border guards. 

A number of them alleged that they had been physically ill-treated (including baton blows to the head) by police and border guard officers or (para-) military commandos during such push-back operations. 

From the information gathered, the CPT considers that, at least until early March 2018, these persons were not effectively protected against the risk of refoulement 

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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