Law enforcement abuse in Greece ‘remains widespread’: Rights group

Law enforcement abuse in Greece remains “widespread,” said an international rights group in its yearly report released on Thursday.

“Law enforcement officials failed adequately to respond to hate crimes and in some cases were complicit in them,” the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report said.

Greece, which welcomed tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees, failed to protect the rights of other asylum seekers and migrants and continued to push new arrivals back to Türkiye, it added.

“While the Greek government continued to deny it engages in illegal pushbacks, it reported in early September ‘averting’ 150,000 irregular arrivals in 2022,” the report said.

It underscored that Athens regularly disregards an increased number of emergency orders issued by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to prevent the summary return of asylum seekers stranded along the borders with Türkiye, and at imminent risk of pushback.

Citing a report by Mary Lawlor, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights defenders, HRW said there is an “environment of fear and insecurity for human rights defenders” in the country, particularly those working on migration.

As to the state of media freedom, the report reiterated that Greece fell 38 positions within a year in Reporters Without Borders’ 2022 report on the Press Freedom Index, making it the lowest-ranked EU country.

Counting the various occasions on which foreign and Greek journalists were threatened or persecuted by Greek authorities, the HRW said: “It recommended Greece to establish legislative and other safeguards to improve the physical safety and working environment of journalists.”

Citing a separate report on the state of racism and intolerance in the country, HRW warned that racially motivated police violence has been a growing trend since 2018, especially during the pandemic.

Source: Anadolu Agency