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

Defending Immigrant Rights

Via the Athens News

Ombudsman defends immigrants’ rights

GREEK Ombudsman George Kaminis’ 2009 annual report, which was tabled in parliament last week, highlights the notorious bureaucracy and overlong delays involved in the issuing and renewal of residence permits. According to Kaminis, these two problems continue to impede the integration of immigrants into Greek society.

The delays in issuing residence permits are due to “a series of organisational flaws”, Kaminis says in the report.

Most of what the ombudsman – the champion of citizens’ rights in Greece – describes in the report as cases of “maladministration” occurred at the central aliens’ bureau on Petrou Ralli St, where the majority of immigrants and asylum seekers must submit their applications. There, the problems are many. The biggest is the number of applicants, which is in the thousands. This has resulted in a tremendous bottleneck, which staff appear unable to relieve.

Another major problem highlighted in the report concerns the procedure immigrant residents must follow in order to bring their spouse and children to Greece.

“The social integration of immigrants is delayed due to the difficulties of family reunification,” says the report, putting most of the blame on officials at Greek embassies and consulates abroad who arbitrarily and routinely deny visas to the spouse and children of immigrants even if authorities in Greece have received prior approval by authorities in Greece.

According to the report, there is a “tendency on the part of consular authorities to reject every single application for family reunification”.

One other issue addressed by the ombudsman last year concerns the right of immigrants married to Greeks or other European Union citizens. According to the ombudsman, they are entitled to a residence permit regardless of whether they are illegally residing in Greece. This decision is based on a recent ruling delivered by the Council of State and the European courts.

More than half (57.8 percent) of all human rights cases reviewed by the ombudsman last year concerned the legal entry and residence of immigrants.

The Ombudsman’s Office is at 5 Hatziyianni-Mexis St (one block from the Hilton Hotel). For more information ring 210-728-9600

Fast facts

The ombudsman (photo) last year received 13,433 new cases submitted by citizens and immigrants residing in Greece. This is an increase of 18.5 percent compared to 2008.

A total of 8,308 cases were investigated last year.

If you believe the state has treated you in a way that is unfair, unreasonable, illegal or just plain wrong, why not bring your complaint forward. The ombudsman’s office provides a non-judicial mechanism for the resolution of differences between state and citizens (all immigrant residents included). The ombudsman’s job is to investigate complaints against ministries, public utilities and state-owned companies and to act as an impartial mediator.

Year Number of new
cases submitted
1998 1,430
1999 7,284
2000 10,107
2001 11,282
2002 11,762
2003 10,850
2004 10,571
2005 10,087
2006 9,162
2007 10,611
2008 10,954
2009 13,433

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