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

Treating Migrants as Criminals

A new report published by Amnesty International on Tuesday, slams Greece for its treatment of migrants and asylum seekers.

Greece must stop treating migrants as criminals

27 July 2010

The Greek authorities should immediately review their policy of locking up irregular migrants and asylum-seekers, including many unaccompanied children, Amnesty International said in a new report on Tuesday.

Irregular migrants and asylum-seekers routinely detained in substandard conditions, documents their treatment, many of whom are held in poor conditions in borderguard stations and immigration detention centres with no or limited access to legal, social and medical aid.

“Asylum-seekers and irregular migrants are not criminals. Yet, the Greek authorities treat them as such disregarding their rights under international law,” said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director for Amnesty International.

“Currently, migrants are detained as a matter of course, without regard whether such measure is necessary. Detention of asylum-seekers and migrants on the grounds of their irregular status should always be a measure of last resort.”

Greek law makes irregular entry into and exit out of the country a criminal offence. As of June 2009, the period of detention for the purposes of deportation has increased from three to six months.

Tens of thousands of migrants arrive in Greece each year. The vast majority of them reach the country through the Greek-Turkish land and sea borders. They are mostly Afghan, Somali, Palestinian, Iraqi, Eritrean, Pakistani and Burmese.

“After an often hazardous journey, migrants end up in detention centres without access to a lawyer, interpreters or social workers. As a result, their circumstances are not assessed correctly and many in need of international protection may be sent back to the places they have fled, while others may be deprived of appropriate care and support,” Nicola Duckworth said.

Irregular migrants and asylum-seekers are not informed about the length of their detention or about their future. They can be kept for long periods of time in overcrowded facilities with unaccompanied minors being detained among the adults. Those detained have limited access to medical assistance and hygiene products.

Few asylum-seekers and irregular migrants are recognized as refugees by the Greek authorities. From the over 30,000 asylum applications examined in 2009, only 36 were granted refugee protection status while 128 were granted subsidiary protection status.

In the vast majority of detention facilities visited by Amnesty International delegates, conditions ranged from inadequate to very poor. Those detained told Amnesty International of instances of ill-treatment by coastguards and police.

Length and poor conditions of detention provoked irregular migrants and asylum-seekers to stage protests in Venna, north-east Greece in February 2010. Likewise, in April, irregular migrants went on hunger strike on the island of Samos to protest their length of detention.

“Detention cannot be used as a tool to control migration. The onus is on the authorities to demonstrate in each individual case that such detention is necessary and proportionate to the objective to be achieved and that alternatives will not be effective,” Nicola Duckworth said.

Amnesty International said it believes that the Greek authorities should explore alternatives, such as the establishment of screening centres staffed with qualified personnel.

The authorities need to ensure that irregular migrants and asylum-seekers arriving at those centres have access to free legal assistance and interpreters in languages they understand, and medical assistance.


  1. Cinzano
    July 29, 2010    

    Amnesty International should divert some funds from their considerable bank accounts to help Greece build detention centres to house immigrants. We don’t give money to charities such as Amnesty Int. for them to make obvious statements and to do nothing to address the issues.

    I think it’s very naive to expect an almost bankrupt nation to have modern detention centres for immigrants especially when there are millions of immigrants and their families coming into Greece.

    DD, what do you think of how the richer nations i.e. US and the UK treats immigrants?

    “Two advocacy groups for refugees said on Wednesday that the Bush administration routinely detained immigrant families in prisonlike housing that separated young children from their parents and sometimes provided inadequate medical care, food and educational opportunities, despite calls from Congress to house such families in “nonpenal, homelike environments.”

    “Medical experts have found clear evidence that children held in UK immigration centres develop mental and physical health difficulties”

    Our country, the UK, is not a bankrupt nation, nor is the US, what’s our excuse for having such conditions for immigrants?

  2. July 29, 2010    

    I think the situation in the UK and the US is appalling.And there is no excuse for it. There is also no excuse here. This situation has been going on for a decade at least. Vast sums of money have been given by the European Union and been “lost” or wasted.

    I agree at the present time it is difficult for Greece in every respect but this problem did not occur in the last year.

    I am not sure if Amnesty gives money for that kind of project? I thought they were a watchdog body who also funded some emergency projects like the Haiti earthquake?

  3. Cinzano
    July 29, 2010    

    I think the situation in the UK and the US is appalling.

    Did you lobby for better conditions for terrible plight of UK immigrants when you were in the UK? No, i didn’t think so. You only became interested in the poor conditions for immigrants when you visited Greece. Another example of your “turning a blind eye” to the problems in our own country but suddenly wanting to say how uncivilised Greeks are when you go abroad. Typical sanctimonious ex-pat Brit….You did the same thing with Gypsies – you didn’t even want to know about the plight of the Roma in the UK when you were in the UK, you couldn’t give a toss, but now you’re in Greece, the Roma are suddenly vicitimsed by those pesky Greeks and you want the world to know about it..

    I thought they were a watchdog body who also funded some emergency projects like the Haiti earthquake?

    So the immigrant problem is not really an emergency according to you? I believe it is an emergency. I think you should lobby charities and write letters to affluent organisations so that they may donate some money to poor nations like Greece to improve their immigrant detention centres. Don’t just copy/paste articles from other websites. This is not journalism, this is plagiarism. (i hope those websites know what you’re doing with their work)..While your at it, write to David Cameron and tell him to improve conditions in the Sussex immigrant detention centre before the immigrants burn it down again and kill more people. You don’t know sweet f.a. about what’s going on in your own country and you prefer to bleat on and on about the “uncivilised Greeks” abusing Roma, immigrants, Muslims and women on your negative and hateful blog…

  4. Cinzano
    July 29, 2010    

    DD, why are my posts being moderated?

  5. July 29, 2010    

    They’re not. I don’t have any moderation on at the moment at all. apart from my usual spam filter. There could still be a problem from when I was hacked so badly but I think that’s been cleared up now. You are not in my spam filter either. Could just be a temporary problem with wordpress.

  6. Cinzano
    July 29, 2010    

    How the hell do you know what I did when I was living in England.

    Did you engage with the British Roma when you were in the UK? No.

    Did you lobby local government to stop the forced evictons of British Roma? No.

    Did you lobby for better conditions for immigrants in the UK? No.

    Did you write about anti-semitic attacks on Jewish synagogues in the UK? No.

    Did you campaign against Islamophobia when you were in the UK? No.

    Everything you’re doing in Greece, you’ve failed to do in the UK. Why is that? Is it because you are a sanctimonious little Englander who prefers to point accusing fingers at the “lazy, corrupt, racist, Islamophobic, misogynistic, backward Eastern European Neanderthals”?

    I reckon the only thing you did in the UK was to promote better race relations. But the UK is still exactly how you left it. It’s still like this:

  7. July 29, 2010    

    How the hell do you know what I did when I was living in England. The truth is, you have absolutely no clue what I have been involved in in the past. Not one clue.

    And your comment about copy/pasting doesn’t really deserve an answer but just to remind you… this is a blog. Not a newspaper or magazine. And I am a blogger not a journalist. I have made this clear so many times it’s boring.

    Seeing as you consider my blog so hateful and you have absolutely NO respect for me and will stoop as low as to make up crap about my past doings which you know NOTHING about, I suggest you stop reading and posting here. I AM NOT CENSORING YOU I am just suggesting that you move on to somewhere else that is more to your liking.

    This is my last comment to you, cinzano. I have tried. I have NEVER been rude to you despite the reams of insults you have thrown at me. But I have my limits. And making up stuff about me is my limit.

    I hope you find a more satisfying “dialogue” on a different blog. I am no longer able to engage politely with you.

  8. Cinzano
    August 1, 2010    

    These are the kind of stories DD ignored while she was living in England:

  9. August 1, 2010    

    just to set the record straight for my other readers…

    I did not have a blog when I lived in England and the commentor above has no idea what I did or did not do in the (distant)past. I know you know this but it is getting increasingly frustrating to be written about in this way. I have no idea why this person is so bitter and angry with me and my blog. Maybe there is some strange pleasure in baiting someone on the internet? I don’t understand it and I suppose I don’t need to but I worry that his bile is putting you off even coming here to read what I do post.

    I will not ban this person because that will just cause flurries of emails to me about censorship etc. i suppose I am relying on the fact that people will judge the situation for themselves.

  10. Cinzano
    August 1, 2010    

    DD, I’m sorry if you feel that i’m baiting you, believe me that’s not my intention.
    I feel that i must challenge your one-sided representation of southern European people which you present on this blog – I don’t think you’re being entirely fair to the people of Greece with your constant drip-feed of negativity. You allowed british racists to post their vitriol against Greeks for years – they said some nasty nasty things which you allowed on your blog. But you banned Greek posters for similar racist offences.
    You never posted anything about the reduction of employment rights for millions of Greeks and you wrote absolutely nothing about the riots in Greece which i find fact, you ignore anything which involves the rights oif greek citizens, why is that?
    Forgive me but my conscience and integrity tells me that i must challenge you about these things….i hope you don’t mind the exercise of free speech on your blog.

  11. post disagreement
    August 2, 2010    

    and anyway breaking the law / coming uninvited is a crime

  12. Jack
    August 4, 2010    

    I have to admire your patience with this Cinzano person. Goodness know what issues he/she has with you, but to be honest I’ve had about enough of his/her comments. Trust your instincts. Believe me there are plenty of us who find his/her comments tiresome, unproductive and quite frankly sour. DD, you have the right to chose what you focus on and the constant ‘drip-feed of negativity’ comes fome another source – not you. You’ve got more patience than me- because I am over it. Cinzano- go start your own blog, and let DD get on with hers. It ain’t yours to bully.

  13. Post Disagreement
    August 7, 2010    

    Translation of Jack’s comment:

    Really DD you should just preach to the choir and not let anyone who disagrees with you post at all.

  14. The Verve
    August 8, 2010    

    Well, when you enter a country illegally you’re committing a criminal act, therefore you are a C-R-I-M-I-N-A-L!!!
    You deserve to be locked up and legal action taken against you. Want to immigrate to Greece or any other country? Then do so through the legal, proper channels and avoid all this nonsense. There’s a reason why there’s embassies & consulates all around the world.

    Countries do not benefit from mass illegal migration. If an immigrant is prepared to break the law by illegal entry he will also be prepared to break the law on a day-to-day basis while trying to make ends meet. We already have proof of this, Sweden the most tolerant EU state suffers from enormous rise in violent crime. Now violent murders and rapes do not happen in that country because the indigenous Swedes decided to crazy all over a sudden, it happened because they allowed a lot of undesirable elements into their society.

    Greeks do not need to look far, they just need to see the transformation of central Athens (and other large towns & cities) from once peaceful neighbourhoods into no-go zones. Back in the 80’s and before, when mass illegal migration was almost non-existent, one could let their kids venture into central Athens knowing full well that nothing bad would happen to them. Not anymore, your kids runs the risk of all sorts of vile things happening to them, from being kidnapped by organ or child traffickers to being beaten, knived or shot by some criminal gang….usually a non-native one.

    Since we can’t turn back the clock, we can always amuse ourselves with statements made by the mentally impaired:

    “Currently, migrants are detained as a matter of course, without regard whether such measure is necessary. Detention of asylum-seekers and migrants on the grounds of their irregular status should always be a measure of last resort.”

    As i mentioned earlier, Athens and many other large cities have become very dangerous, for migrants included. If they are let free, they will be left to roam parts they know little about. There’s no prospect for work and others like them are in the same desperate situation, henceforth migrants will be in even greater danger especially those that are children. I say improve the condition of facilities but detain them as long as necessary.