New Report on Human Rights Abuses in Greece – The EU Must Not Be Complacent

With the launch today by Amnesty International and the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights of a major report on the ill-treatment of detainees and excessive use of force in Greece, Amnesty International sends an urgent plea to the European Union to act more decisively on human rights abuses within its borders.

The report: “Greece: In the shadow of impunity. Ill-treatment and the misuse of firearms” launched today in Athens, documents 66 cases of alleged human rights violations. It concludes that the ill-treatment of detainees during arrest and in police custody in Greece is relatively commonplace and is at times so severe that it amounts to torture. It also details cases which raise serious doubts over whether the use of firearms by Greek police is in accordance with international standards. (The report is available see link at end of page)

Today’s report, coming just months before Greece assumes the Presidency of the EU, echoes the findings of another report by Amnesty International on Spain released in April this year, regarding race-related torture and ill-treatment of minorities and immigrants in that country.

“There is an all too familiar pattern emerging, in these reports of continuing human rights abuses within the European Union, of abuse by state agents, including torture, ill-treatment and the excessive use of force, often directed at minorities, third-country nationals and asylum seekers, but also EU nationals,” said Dick Oosting, Director of Amnesty International’s EU Office in Brussels.

“Amnesty International believes that serious infractions of fundamental rights in one EU member state are not just the responsibility of that country, but should also be the proper concern of the EU as a whole,” he said.

Amnesty International recalls that the EU prides itself on being a Union “founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedom, and the rule of law,” (Art. 6 TEU). These commitments were reaffirmed and elaborated in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

“The very real human rights problems that persist within Europe’s boundaries present the EU with a critical test of its credibility in applying rigorous standards to others. If the EU as a collective body is complacent about human rights abuses within its borders, how can it expect those countries aspiring to join the Union, to take their human rights standards seriously

How can the EU preach human rights to third countries if problems persist on its own doorstep

” said Dick Oosting.

Amnesty International calls on the Danish EU Presidency to take appropriate action in relation to the human rights situation in Greece and begin the process of developing a system of real accountability at EU level for human rights abuses within EU borders.

As the EU has made the abolition of torture a human rights priority in its relations with third countries, (as evidenced by the EU Guidelines on Torture adopted last year), Amnesty International calls on the EU to effectively apply those same standards to countries within the EU.

Click here to link to the Summary Report “Greece: Ill-treatment, Shootings and Impunity” (AI index EUR 25/020/2002).

Click here to link to the full Amnesty International report (large document): Greece: In the shadow of impunity. Ill-treatment and the misuse of firearms” (AI index EUR 25/022/2002).

Click here to view appeal cases “Greece: Torture, ill treatment and unlawful use of fire-arms” (AI index EUR 25/013/2002).

Click here for GREEK language version of full report (large document).

For further comment/background and interviews:
Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):
Tel: 32-2-5021499
Fax: 32-2-5025686
Email: [email protected]