Europe’s top human rights organisation issued a scathing criticism of Greece over the “unsuitable” living conditions in the country’s overcrowded detention facilities for migrants.
The Council said in its report that it received “credible” allegations of detainees being physically ill-treated by Greek police and of cases where migrants who had illegally entered Greece being forced to cross the border to Turkey.
The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) staff visited several detention centres last April, mostly near the eastern land border with Turkey in the Greek province of Thrace and in the islands of the Aegean Sea.
The findings painted a bleak picture of the camps, where access to a lawyer or doctor remain non-existent, and where, for the most part, most migrants have their civil liberties stripped. Translation services are rarely provided and custody records are non-existent, while complaint procedures are in dire need of improvement.Fullscreen Mode
Most of the police and border guard stations that the CPT team visited remain unsuitable to hold people for longer than 24 hours.
The report also shed light on a case where 41 foreign nationals were packed together overnight in filthy and grossly sub-standard conditions with less than 1.5 m2 of living space for each person.
Overcrowding was recorded by the team at the Fylakio Pre-removal centre where up to 95 migrants – including families, children, and pregnant women – were crammed together in a cell with little more than 1 m2 of living space per person. The Council of Europe has invited the Greek authorities to introduce “alternative measures” to detention.
Conditions in the centres that were visited by the fact-finding mission varied from good on Pyli centre in Kos, to acceptable in Amygdaleza, to very poor, in Moria, where people are held in “appalling conditions” for months. This, according to the Council of Europe, “can easily be considered as amounting to inhuman and degrading treatment”.
“Regrettably, no decisive action has been taken by the Greek authorities to implement the CPT’s previous recommendations in regards to the detention of migrant children,” adds the report, with the Committee reiterating the need for the Greek authorities to fundamentally revise their policy regarding the detention of unaccompanied children, both for reception and identification, purposes and under what they termed as “protective custody”.
Several migrants who were interviewed in private at three detention sites by the investigative team gave credible testimony about the push-back operations carried out by Greece, which forces boats back across the Evros River border after they had been intercepted by Greek border guards.
The Greek government has denied that such practices take place, but a number of migrants told the CPT that they had been physically manhandled by police and border guards.