The only thing necessary for the persistence of evil is for enough good people to do nothing

Police Halt Asylum Procedures

Via Kathimerini

A group of lawyers working on a voluntary basis to help refugees and immigrants seeking legal status in Greece yesterday accused the police of having stopped processing asylum applications nearly a month ago.

“For the past 25 days, the Athens immigration unit has closed its doors and is refusing applications while a large number of refugees are at risk of being arrested and deported,” the statement issued by the Organization of Lawyers for the Rights of Refugees and Asylum Seekers said.

Questioned about the allegations yesterday, a senior officer at the unit on Iera Odos told Kathimerini that the long delays were due to the large backlog of asylum applications.

According to Marianna Tzeferakou, one of the lawyers from the group, these are “the usual excuses.” “This practice is part and parcel of the country’s general policy toward asylum seekers and all those who merit international protection,” she said, adding that the migrants were being deprived of their rights as enshrined in international law.

Read the full article here

I was actually down in Omonia yesterday and saw an unusually large number of police. They seemed to be targeting young black men who were on their own. I saw at least three incidents of this on my way from the main bus station to the heart of Omonia (a five minute walk). It could have been totally unrelated, but now that I read the article, I am wondering if they are doing one of their “clean-up” operations.

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  1. October 17, 2008    

    Actually the Ombudsman alerted NGOs about that in late September but has apparently not being able to do much.

    On the other hand here is another related story which I pots without the link so it does not get moderated again :)

    Hundreds of immigrants poisoned at Greek centre
    Wed 15 Oct 2008, 15:13 GMT

    ATHENS, Oct 15 (Reuters) – Hundreds of illegal immigrants held in a detention centre on the Greek island of Lesbos have fallen ill after drinking contaminated water from rusty and mouldy pipes, police said on Wednesday.

    Police said hospital staff rushed to provide emergency medication after the weekend incident at the centre, where medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) denounced a “humanitarian crisis” in July.

    “Almost all of the immigrants at the detention centre have been poisoned,” a police official, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

    “They are in a bad condition, but they can not be transferred to hospital as they are too many and in a bad state,” the official said.

    About 600 immigrants, many of them from war-torn Somalia and Afghanistan, were detained on the eastern Aegean island. The police official said water pipes at the centre were old and toilets were not working properly.
    Greece has been criticised internationally for the poor conditions in its six detention centres and its harsh treatment of migrants who arrived in Greece without identity papers to seek asylum from war-torn countries such as Afghanistan.

    MSF ended an emergency programme at the Lesbos detention centre last month, saying Greece’s conservative government was providing no support for its efforts to improve conditions there.

    “We hope this will finally push the government into taking some action,” said Nondas Paschos, a spokesman for MSF Greece.

    Greece, with just 11 million inhabitants and one of the lowest per capita GDPs in the euro zone, is struggling to cope with a rising tide of migrants swamping its long coastline and border with Turkey. Police registered 112,000 illegal migrants last year, versus just 40,000 in 2005.

    EU leaders were due to approve a new pact on immigration and asylum at a summit this week, aimed at tightening border controls and easing the repatriation of illegal migrants. (Reporting by Renee Maltezou and Daniel Flynn; Editing by Jon Boyle)

  2. October 17, 2008    

    the link to the above story for the record:

  3. Xenos
    October 17, 2008    

    The figure of 112,000 is a lie. which the Greek authorities have a long history of doing with these statistics. The correct figure of detected arrivals is about 11,000 according to the Greek state itself: the larger figure is the number of immigrants they have arrested for not having documents. Many of them have been living for years in Greece and have suffered from the obsession that Greece has with social insurance payments in order to take short-term residence permits.

  4. October 17, 2008    

    Here is another recent story, which carries more weight as it is an interview with the UN official.

    Greece breaks Geneva Convention on refugees- UNHCR

    Fri 10 Oct 2008, 9:21 GMT

    By Daniel Flynn

    ATHENS, Oct 10 (Reuters) – Greece is violating international accords on the status of refugees such as the Geneva Convention by routinely rejecting asylum claims by migrants from war-torn states like Afghanistan, a UN official said.

    Giorgos Tsarbopoulos, local head of the UN refugee agency UNHCR, said Greece was facing a “crisis situation” as it struggles to cope with an increasing number of migrants from the Middle East and Africa arriving on its long Mediterranean coast, and it needed more help from its EU partners.
    Greece accepted just 8 of the 20,692 initial asylum requests made at its poorly staffed border posts in 2007, or less than 0.04 percent, according to government figures given to UNHCR.

    “This is against the principles, the rules and the standards of protection of the Geneva Convention and all international instruments,” Tsarbopoulos told Reuters in an interview. “It is an automatic rejection.”

    On appeal, the acceptance rate rose to 2.1 percent, but it remains the lowest in the European Union, Tsarbopoulos said.

    There is also a backlog of some 20,000 cases waiting to be processed as officials focus on the cases of Bangladeshis and Pakistanis, which are easier to dismiss, and leave to one side appeals from Afghans, Iraqis and Somalis, Tsarbopoulos said.

    Under EU rules, known as the Dublin Regulation, migrants who request asylum in the 27-nation bloc can only do so in the country where they first entered. But Greece’s record on asylum is so bad that UNHCR has advised EU countries not to return asylum seekers there until conditions improve.
    Greece needs to deploy translators and legal councillors at reception centres along its frontier to ensure asylum requests are quickly and fairly processed, he said. Wealthier northern European countries should also shoulder more responsibility.

    “This is an undue burden on the countries which have external borders in Europe,” said Tsarbopoulos. “These countries … are unfairly punished because they have external borders.”

    The number of undocumented migrants entering Greece has risen from around 40,000 in 2005 to more than 112,000 last year, according to Interior Ministry figures. In the first seven months of this year, more than 70,000 were recorded — and experts believe this is just a fraction of the real number.

    “The refugee issue is not high on the political agenda. The political agenda is to control illegal migration and we understand that,” said Tsarbopoulos. “But at the same time it needs to be high so that people who need protection get it.”

    With up to 8 million illegal migrants in the European Union, the bloc’s leaders are due to approve a tough new pact at a summit next week. The deal permits illegal migrants to be detained for up to 18 months, makes it easier to repatriate them, and lays out plans to step up border surveillance.

    (Editing by Sami Aboudi)

  5. October 17, 2008    
  6. Michael Scowcroft
    October 23, 2008    

    It seems that the Greek Police has joined the same club as the British Police, the institutionally racist club.