Violations against civilians by police in Greece highlighted in report

Police clash with protesters in Athens, 9 December 2008

Police clash with protesters in Athens, 9 December 2008

© APGraphicsBank

31 March 2009

An Amnesty International briefing published on Monday highlights patterns of alleged human rights violations by Greek police against civilians. These include excessive use of force and firearms, torture or other ill-treatment, arbitrary detention and denial of prompt access to lawyers.

The events during the violent demonstrations that rocked Greece in recent months are currently coming under police and judicial investigations. As its report was launched, Amnesty International called on the Greek authorities to take the opportunity to address long-standing problems of policing.  

"Time and again police officers in Greece have been accused of using excessive force against demonstrators or denying them their rights when in detention," said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International. "The police response to the recent unrest is the culmination of an entrenched pattern of serious human rights violations by law enforcement officials."

The killing of 15-year-old Alexis Gregoropoulos by an officer serving as a special guard on 6 December 2008 sparked widespread demonstrations that in many cases developed into riots.

Amnesty International has been receiving mounting allegations of violations by police in the context of the demonstrations in December and January 2009.

The organization has brought a number of cases from December and January to the attention of the Minister of the Interior, Prokopis Pavlopoulos. Police officers were said to have arbitrarily arrested, ill-treated and detained peaceful demonstrators as well as civilians reportedly not involved in demonstrations. Detainees, including minors, were prevented from promptly contacting their lawyers.  

"These incidents should be used as a catalyst by the government to launch a wide-ranging commission of inquiry that would investigate not only recent events but also systemic issues, including training of police on the use of firearms and of force," Nicola Duckworth said

"The people of Greece have the right to proper policing in accordance with the government’s national and international obligations."

Take Action: Alleged abuses in the context of policing demonstrations in Greece

Greece: Alleged abuses in the policing of demonstrations

Index Number: EUR 25/001/2009
Date Published: 30 March 2009
Categories: Greece

Amnesty International has longstanding and continuing concerns regarding the failure of the authorities in Greece to ensure that the police respect and protect human rights. Allegations of human rights violations committed by the police continue to be made, in the context of both policing demonstrations and during arrest and detention. This report highlights such concerns. The organization considers that recent incidents could serve as a timely catalyst for the government to launch a wide-ranging commission of inquiry.

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