Abductions and incommunicado detention in the 'war on terror'
In May, two agents of the Hellenic Intelligence Service were charged in connection with the alleged abductions of one Indian and six Pakistani nationals in Athens in July 2005. No evidence came to light in the cases of six other agents initially suspected of involvement in the abductions. The eight agents were the subject of further investigations. The abductions appeared to have taken place in the context of international investigations into the London bombings of July 2005. The government originally stated that its intelligence service and other agencies had not been involved. In November, Javed Aslam, a Pakistani national, who had complained to the prosecutor on behalf of his co-nationals, was arrested by Greek police and was held in Korydallos prison awaiting deportation, after an arrest warrant was issued by the Pakistani authorities, charging him with illegal migration and smuggling of human beings.
Treatment of migrants and refugees
The government failed to allow asylum-seekers access to the country and continued to return them to their country of origin, without legal aid or access to asylum procedures.
In September, 118 people who had been shipwrecked on the island of Crete two weeks earlier were expelled to Egypt, without being given access to lawyers and AI representatives who had requested to meet them.
In September, 40 people trying to reach the island of Chios by boat were intercepted by Greek coastguards who allegedly took them on board after their boat had sunk, handcuffed them, took them towards Turkey and forced them into the water. The bodies of six people were found on the Turkish coast, 31 were rescued by the Turkish authorities, and three were reported missing. The Greek authorities denied the allegations.
Detention conditions reportedly amounted to ill-treatment. The detention of minors was also reported.
It was reported that six minors were among refugees and migrants being held at the detention centre on the island of Chios. There were also reports of overcrowding and lack of toilet facilities at the centre. ? Five minors were detained in the city of Volos for 45 days before being transferred to Athens where they were detained for a second time.
There were also reports of ill-treatment of migrants and asylum-seekers.
Forty migrants, including minors, who were attempting to board ships bound for Italy from the port of Patras were reportedly detained at the Patras Port Security Office and some were beaten.
Conscientious objection to military service
The majority of the conscientious objectors who were expected to benefit from the law on military service refused to resubmit their applications in protest against the punitive length of civilian service. In October, an application for conscientious objector status was rejected because the grounds for the application were not religious.
In May Lazaros Petromelidis was handed a five-month suspended prison sentence by the Athens Appeals Court. He appealed against the sentence.
In June the Athens Military Appeals Court ruled on the cases of two conscientious objectors accused of disobedience. Boris Sotiriadis was acquitted and Giorgos Koutsomanolakis was convicted and handed a 10-month suspended prison term.
In October the Athens Military Appeals Court decreased Giorgos Monastiriotis' 40-month prison sentence for desertion to 24 months, with three years' suspension. He was convicted after refusing to follow his unit to Iraq.
In October parliament adopted a law combating domestic violence, placing the emphasis on the preservation of the family unit rather than on the rights of the victims, who in the vast majority of cases are women. Under the law, judicial arbitration would be at the initiation of the prosecutor rather than at the victim's request, a definite time frame for immediate implementation of restraining orders was lacking, and budgetary provisions to ensure the implementation of the law had not been allocated by the end of the year.
Trafficking in human beings
In February Albania and Greece signed an agreement on the protection of Albanian children being trafficked into Greece. By the end of the year, the agreement had yet to be ratified by the parliament. The agreement set out procedures for the provision of food, shelter, and medical and psychosocial support; the appointment of temporary guardians; arrangements for voluntary return; the integration process upon their return; and the prohibition of detention and criminal prosecution of children.
The agreement did not, however, specify conditions on voluntary return of children, including the process of determining whether the return was indeed voluntary. Nor did it specify provisions for the protection of children during the criminal investigation process or for cases of children trafficked by their parents.
In April a Bulgarian woman was detained on the island of Rhodes for illegal entry, and two men who had arranged her transfer from Crete to Rhodes were charged with trafficking and pimping. The woman reported that after she was detained, a police officer took her to his house where he raped her, and when she was taken to the police station she was raped by another officer. A criminal investigation was opened, the two officers were charged with rape, and the guard on duty at the police station at the time and the police station commander were both charged with neglect of duty.
There were concerns that victims of trafficking were required to testify against their traffickers before being given protection.
Freedom of expression
In July the European Court of Human Rights ruled unanimously that Greece had violated Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights in the case of Mehmet Agga, an elected but unofficial Mufti in the prefecture of Xanthi, who had been convicted in 1997 by a domestic court for usurping the function of a minister of a "known religion" under Article 175 of the Criminal Code.
Update: The killing of Marinos Christopoulos
In November, Giorgos Tylianakis, the police officer who had killed a 22-year-old Romani man, Marinos Christo-poulos in October 2001, was sentenced to 10 years and three months' imprisonment by the Court of Appeals.
AI country reports/visits
Greece: High time to comply fully with European standards on conscientious objection (AI Index: EUR 25/003/2006)
AI delegates visited Greece in July and September. In September, the Secretary General of AI met senior government figures.