Amnesty International EU Office Press Release
Detention of minors in Greece shows failings of EU’s immigration policy
Amnesty International is calling on the EU to examine the detention practices of Greece. In a letter to the European Commission, the organization is highlighting the poor treatment of asylum-seekers and irregular migrants in the country, with the detention of unaccompanied minors of a particular concern.
Amnesty International’s report, ‘Greece: Irregular migrants and asylum-seekers routinely detained in substandard conditions’, shows that asylum-seekers and irregular migrants in Greece are detained as a matter of course, rather than as a last resort. Through this practice the government is failing to abide by international obligations, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, as well as EU laws which clearly stipulate that detention only can be justifiable if no alternative measures are possible, and moreover should always be decided on a case-by-case basis.
Greece’s legislation on the detention of unaccompanied children is of particular concern for Amnesty International. Many children have been detained for long periods and in poor conditions, due to a lack of special reception centres for minors.
“It is never acceptable that children are detained. Children should not be subjected to poor conditions and long periods of confinement however this is sadly the case in Greece. Although Greece is experiencing economic hardship and is receiving a large number of migrants, these issues cannot serve as an excuse for treating children in such a way,” says Nicolas Beger, director of Amnesty International’s EU office.
The report found that the conditions in a vast number of Greece’s immigration detention centres are inadequate or poor and that detainees have no, or limited access to various forms of basic assistance. Overcrowding has been a pressing issue, particularly in the summer months when a large number of migrants attempt to cross the Mediterranean to EU countries. The shortage in legal assistance, interpreters and medical support further exacerbates an already critical situation. The absence of an effective mechanism to challenge the detention of an individual or to complain about detention conditions is also worsening the situation.
“The reality for migrants in Greece is dire. The EU must put pressure on Greece to improve the situation. Each and every person has the right to basic legal assistance and to humane treatment upon arriving in an EU country which is clearly not the case at the moment,” concludes Beger.
For further comment/background and interviews:
Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):
Tel: 32-2-502 1499/32-2-548 2773
23/05/2013 For each rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, Amnesty International asks the presidency to commit itself to advancing human rights within the EU and worldwide. We also seek the presidency’s active ...
23/05/2013 This is part of a special ‘People on the Move’ series, highlighting the human rights violations faced by migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers in every part of the world. These profiles are being published around the launch ...