European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment report on Greece

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On 20 November 2002 the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published its report on the visit to Greece undertaken by its delegation from 23 September to 5 October 2001, and the response from the Greek government to the report. It was part of the CPT´s schedule of periodic visits that saw CPT delegations visit Greece previously in 1993 and 1997. It entailed visits to police stations, headquarters, holding centres for aliens, transfer centres, border guard posts, port police stations, customs detention facilities, prisons and military disciplinary detention facilities. The CPT delegation observed that conditions of detention in Iraklion and Kozani police headquarters "were wholly unacceptable", and deemed that Greek authorities were "seriously underestimating the scale of the problem of ill-treatment of persons deprived of their liberty by law enforcement officers". The report states that a "considerable number" of allegations of ill-treatment in custody were made, consisting of "kicks, blows with hands, fists, batons or other objects", and in some cases medical observation of inmates was consistent with allegations. It was alleged that ill-treatment took place particularly during questioning and transfers, and that excessive force was sometimes used during arrests. In particular, the CPT report called for the "diligent investigation ... of all complaints of such treatment" and "the imposition of a suitable penalty" to produce a "strong deterrent effect". It also criticises the lack of interest shown by judges and prosecutors to complaints of ill-treatment, claiming that lawyers sometimes discouraged complaints because "it would not serve their interests".

The report also highlights structural problems in some police stations such as cell-size, hygiene and lighting, the denial of food or prescribed medication unless detainees could pay for it, of access to a lawyer until a first statement was made, and the lack of legal counsel or interpreting facilities for immigration detainees, sometimes held in conditions of "forced idleness". In prisons, improvements were noted although overcrowding is considered the main obstacle to decent conditions for inmates, with 8,500 persons detained in premises with a capacity of 5,000. Ill-treatment was only alleged in Malandrino prison, a group of Albanians were considered to be experiencing worse conditions in separate detention in Alcarnassos prison, and a "general lack of activities resulting in idleness" was witnessed. The CPT also expressed concern for understaffed health services, the lack of "a [drug] prevention and treatment policy worthy of the name", the time restrictions and conditions of contact with the outside world in prisons. The delegation heard allegations from two Albanians that they were ill-treated during detention by military staff assisting border guards in the prevention of illegal entry.

CPT press statement
CPT report
Greek government response
Previous CPT reports and Greek government responses

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