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Greece

    December 23, 2015

    The Greek Parliament’s vote to extend civil unions to same-sex couples is an historic and important step in the right direction, but falls short of guaranteeing full equality with married couples, said Amnesty International.

    “The passing of this law represents a small but hard-won victory for activists in Greece, who have fought tirelessly for years for the legal recognition of same-sex relationships,” said Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “This law means that the State acknowledges that same-sex relationships exist, and that they matter. It sends a message of hope not only to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, but to everyone fighting for justice and equality. The message is that Greece is becoming more tolerant.”

    September 21, 2015

    By Eliza Goroya in Kos, Greece and Khairunissa Dhala and Lorna Hayes in Berlin, Germany.

     

    From Greece to Germany, volunteers are joining forces to help newly-arrived refugees and migrants get food, clothes and medical attention - plugging glaring gaps in the EU’s broken asylum system while Europe’s leaders still grapple for a common solution to the growing crisis.

    “There was this Syrian family: a father with a small girl. She tried to open the door of my car. I thought she must be after the food, so I asked her father what they need. ‘You have the same car as us,’ he responded, ‘but ours exploded back in Syria. Her mother died in it.’

    “And then I understood what the little girl was looking for."

    Konstantinos, a volunteer, looks away as he shares this story with me. Locals on the Greek island of Kos call him 'The Hardcore One', because he juggles two jobs with daily deliveries of food, supplies and support for refugees.

     

    September 04, 2015

    Today’s visit by European Commissioners Timmermans and Avramopoulos to the Greek island of Kos must result in immediate action to end the prolonged suffering of thousands of refugees, including many children, staying in inhumane conditions, Amnesty International said today following a research mission on the island this week.

    The organization witnessed a violent attack on refugees last night and has documented the overall dire conditions refugees face on the island. Researchers found children as young as a week old among the crowds forced to wait for days in baking heat to be registered by the local authorities, and interviewed unaccompanied minors being detained in deplorable conditions alongside adults.

    “The refugees we met on Kos have fled war and persecution in countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. They include children, some with their families but others travelling alone. The hellish conditions the refugees are now forced to endure and the official indifference to their plight is appalling,” said Kondylia Gogou, Greece Researcher at Amnesty International, who just returned from Kos.

    August 24, 2015

    Weak coordination and severe shortages in facilities and staffing are creating dreadful conditions for the hundreds of refugees and migrants arriving every day on the Greek island of Lesvos, which is seeing the highest number of arrivals in Greece, Amnesty International said after a research team returned from the island.

    Overloaded, under-resourced authorities are failing to cope with the dramatic increase in the number of people arriving on the island (33,000 since 1 August) and must rely on local volunteers, NGO activists, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and tourists to step into the massive breach. The vast majority are fleeing conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria - 90% of those arriving in 2015 according to UNHCR.

    August 14, 2015

    Today’s move by the European Commission towards increasing support to Greece following a sharp increase in the arrival of refugees on Greece’s Aegean islands is a step towards supporting Greece and the many vulnerable people seeking refuge in Europe, said Amnesty International today.

    The organization however also warned of the urgent need for the Commission to call for the European Union (EU) member states to increase safe and legal routes so those in need of protection can reach Europe safely.

    “The crisis unfolding on the Greek islands shows how the authorities are incapable of meeting the needs and protecting the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, as the increase in arrivals by sea to the islands have pushed an already struggling reception system beyond breaking point,” said Iverna McGowan Acting Director for Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.

    January 19, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT 20 January 2015

    The Greek authorities’ failure to adequately investigate the deaths of 11 Afghans who drowned at sea shows a blatant disregard for justice for the victims and their families and exemplifies their hard-line approach towards asylum and migration, said Amnesty International on the anniversary of the Farmakonisi tragedy.

    On 20 January 2014, 11 Afghans, including eight children, lost their lives when their fishing boat sank near the Greek island of Farmakonosi. Survivors claim they were towed at great speed back towards Turkey. The authorities dropped an investigation into the tragedy. Since then, more than 100 refugees and migrants have died crossing the Aegean Sea.

    November 04, 2014

    Today’s conviction of three men following a brutal racist attack on a Roma woman and her nephew is a “first step towards justice”, said Amnesty International and Greek Helsinki Monitor - the NGO that provided free legal representation to the victims.

    A court in the town of Messolonghi today handed eight-month jail sentences – suspended for three years – to the three men over the attack on Paraskevi Kokoni and her nephew Kostas Theodoropoulos in October 2012.

    “These convictions are only the first step to justice. Equally important is that the court now recognizes the racist motive behind this crime,” said Giorgos Kosmopoulos, Amnesty International’s expert on Greece, who observed the trial.

    Paraskevi Kokoni and her nephew were punched, kicked and beaten with logs by a group of local men while they were out shopping in the town of Etoliko, western Greece.

    Paraskevi told Amnesty International that she was singled out as a relative of a local Roma leader.

    November 03, 2014

    Any failure of a court in Messolonghi, western Greece, to consider the racist motive in the brutal attack on a Romani woman and her nephew will be a failure of justice, Amnesty International said ahead of the opening of the trial, on 4 November, of three men accused of causing serious bodily harm during an attack two years ago.

    In October 2012, Paraskevi Kokoni, and her nephew Kostas, who has a learning disability, were beaten by a group of local men in a violent attack while they were out shopping in the town of Etoliko, western Greece. Her 11-year-old son could only look on as they were punched, kicked and beaten with logs. Paraskevi told Amnesty International that she was singled out as a relative of a local Roma leader. The attack took place amongst a series of vicious racist raids on Roma families in the same town between August 2012 and January 2013.

    June 13, 2014

    Greek cleaning workers told Amnesty International they were left beaten and bruised by riot police after they tried to protest peacefully against mass redundancies in central Athens yesterday evening.

    The protesters included cleaning staff – mostly women aged between 45 and 60 - who lost their jobs at the Ministry of Finance during the last round of austerity measures by the Greek government.

    Evangelia Alexaki, a 57-year-old protester who was among the 397 staff laid off, said police hit the women with their shields and kicked them.

    “We only had a banner and a loudspeaker; we are now covered in bruises. We could have been their mothers,’’ she told Amnesty International.

    Another protester, 52-year-old cleaner Despoina Kostopoulou, was taken to hospital along with two other women and a man. She said the trio had been “severely beaten” by the police.

    April 28, 2014

    The European Union (EU) must sanction Greece for its failure to eradicate the routine and widespread practice of pushing back refugees and migrants arriving at its borders in search of protection, safety, and better futures in Europe, said an Amnesty International report published today.

    Amnesty International’s report Greece: Frontier of hope and fear contains new evidence of the ongoing, persistent and shameful treatment by the Greek authorities of people risking their lives to find refuge in Europe. This is in direct violation of Greece’s international human rights obligations. The report calls on the EU to use its power to start legal proceedings against Greece for failing to uphold its obligations.

    “The treatment of refugees and migrants at Greece’s borders is deplorable. Too often, instead of finding sanctuary, they are met with violence and intimidation. There are cases where they have been stripped naked, had their possessions stolen, and even held at gunpoint before being pushed back across the border to Turkey,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.

    April 02, 2014

    Posted at 0001 GMT 3 April 2014

    A long-standing culture of impunity, entrenched racism and endemic violence, including the excessive use of force against protesters and ill-treatment of migrants and refugees, has been exposed by Amnesty International's research into policing in Greece. It follows an official investigation into links between police and Golden Dawn.

    By December last year nearly 50 people, including the leader of Golden Dawn, two police officers and five MPs, were arrested and charged with offences ranging from murder and causing explosions, to blackmail. Ten police officers were found to have direct or indirect links with criminal activities attributed to Golden Dawn members.

    Now Amnesty International’s report, A law unto themselves: A culture of abuse and impunity in the Greek police, exposes the many and persistent human rights violations by law enforcement officials. It details the root and branch nature of the lack of accountability and the failure to conduct prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into complaints.

    August 14, 2013

    The Greek authorities must act immediately to curb the growing spate of xenophobic and racist attacks Amnesty International said today. It follows a brutal knife attack by a mob of around 20 men on two Pakistani migrants on the island of Crete in the early hours of yesterday morning.

    The two young men approached Amnesty International for help, saying they were too scared to report the matter to the police or seek medical attention for fear of being deported.

    “At the same time as we’ve seen a spike in xenophobic violence around Greece, the lack of laws to protect victims with irregular status has meant that reporting such crimes can result in the victims being deported while their attackers walk free,” said Jezerca Tigani, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “This only contributes to the general climate of impunity for the perpetrators of such attacks and it allows for an acceptance of these horrific crimes.”

    July 18, 2013

    The reintroduction of the regulation on the transmission of infectious diseases by the Greek Health Minister puts vulnerable groups including sex workers, HIV positive individuals and drug-injecting users at risk of further discrimination and stigmatization. Amnesty International calls on the Greek authorities to immediately overturn the new regulation and to end these discriminatory practices, which violate European and International human rights obligations.
    The regulation by Greece’s new Health Minister, Adonis Georgiadis, comes after Thessaloniki police escalated arbitrary ID checks of transgender women in late May this year.

    May 30, 2013

    The Greek authorities must immediately stop segregating Romani schoolchildren from their peers, Amnesty International urged today after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the practice in a local school district in central Greece amounted to discrimination.

    In a unanimous ruling today in Lavida and Others v. Greece, the European Court found that “the continuing nature of this situation and the State’s refusal to take anti-segregation measures implied discrimination and a breach of the right to education”.

    It is the sixth European Court ruling on discrimination against Roma pupils, and the third involving Greek schools.

    “It’s shameful that, despite three separate European Court rulings now, Greece has failed to change its ongoing discrimination against Romani schoolchildren and the flagrant violation of their right to education,” said Jezerca Tigani, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    April 22, 2013

    The victims of a recent shooting at a strawberry farm in southern Greece still fear for their livelihoods and safety, Amnesty International said after a visit to the farm. 

    A group of Bangladeshi workers at the farm in Manolada were shot on 17 April by farm supervisors when they joined other workers protesting because they had not been paid for seven months. Eight of them were seriously injured.

    “They hit us and said, ‘We will kill you.’ Three of them were shooting at us while the others beat us with sticks. The shooting went on for more than 20 minutes,” one of the workers told an Amnesty International delegation that visited the camp over the last few days.

    While there, the organization observed horrendous conditions where workers – some in their early teens – live in crowded sheds without access to clean water and sanitation.

    “The living conditions we’ve witnessed in Manolada are a shocking glimpse into an appalling underworld endured by thousands of migrant workers across the area,” said Kondylia Gogou, Greece researcher at Amnesty International.

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