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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 October 2005, 19:42 GMT 20:42 UK
Amnesty blasts Greece over abuse
Chios container (photo: Amnesty International)
Immigrants on one Greek island were kept in a metal container
Greece's treatment of minorities and foreigners trying to enter the country has been lambasted by human rights watchdog Amnesty International.

Incidents of people being shot on the border and asylum-seekers being detained in metal containers are documented in a new report.

Greece has a low asylum application rate but is increasingly seen as a channel to the EU for illegal migrants.

Its government said it completely opposed violating human rights.

The Amnesty report is entitled Out of the spotlight: The rights of foreigners and minorities are still a grey area. It claims the Greek authorities are failing to fight discrimination.

"People living on the margins of society - asylum-seekers, migrants, Roma and members of other minorities - are the most likely victims of discrimination in all its forms," says Amnesty researcher Olga Demetriou.

"Most often, their tormentors are representatives of the state."

Violations

The report claims the Greek authorities fail to comply with international human rights law and standards regarding access to the asylum process, the detention of migrants and protection from discrimination and ill-treatment.

We have not died but I wish I had
Iraqi immigrant

"Thousands of people from Albania, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and elsewhere come to Greece seeking refuge," says Ms Demetriou.

"Some are shot and killed on the border, others are charged with 'illegal entry' straight away and detained without having the chance to apply for refugee protection. The conditions of detention in particular areas of the country do not adhere to international law and standards."

A 24-year-old Iraqi national arrested and detained while trying to get into Greece told researchers:

"There is no phone here and I have not spoken to my parents since I came here... They do not know whether I am dead or alive... We have not died but I wish I had."

The reports says Greece's transition from a traditional emigration country to one attracting migrants has resulted in inadequacies in laws governing migration.

Protection

The report also highlights the plight of Roma and other minority groups, some forcibly evicted from their houses.

Afghan immigrant (photo: Amnesty International)
Some immigrants claim they have been beaten by Greek police

"In the last few years the Greek authorities have admitted that they have not been effective enough in responding to the needs of migrants and minorities," says Ms Demetriou.

"This ineffectiveness is having a negative impact on the way these vulnerable groups are perceived and treated in the country. It is creating a climate for tolerance of racism and xenophobia within the wider Greek population."

Greek government spokesman Theodore Roussopoulos said Greece was "completely opposed to the violation of human rights".

"We need to protect people who are wronged, if indeed they are wronged," he told AFP.

"And I am certain that whenever such complaints arose, the competent ministers and services intervene."


SEE ALSO:
Migrants run Greek gauntlet
05 Sep 05 |  Europe
Greek police 'tortured Afghans'
23 Dec 04 |  Europe
Greek police accused of abuses
07 Nov 02 |  Europe
Country profile: Greece
24 Nov 04 |  Country profiles


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