Nils Muižnieks: Impunity for racist crimes in Greece has to end
08.0213 The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, has completed a visit to Greece and has urged the Greek authorities to use the legal instruments at their disposal to tackle racism, racially motivated violence and police misconduct. The Commissioner underlined the possibility within human rights law to ban the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, arguing that Greek democracy has a right to defend itself against the threat posed by this party.
“It is now, more than ever, that Greece needs robust and effective human rights structures, able to support the state in its efforts to overcome shortcomings in areas such as the systematic human rights training of law enforcement officers, judges and prosecutors and the monitoring, recording of and the fight against hate crime”.
Muižnieks praised the steps taken so far in Greece to counter the rise in xenophobic and racist violence, such as the establishment of 70 specialised anti-racist police units and the appointment of a special prosecutor in Athens to deal with racist crime. However he insisted that the authorities must demonstrate concrete achievements including the actual prosecutions of perpetrators of racist violence, police officers guilty of abuses, and members of Golden Dawn engaging in hate speech. He also emphasised that Greece cannot confront the unprecedented challenges it now faces without the help of the rest of Europe.
Furthermore, he advocated the prompt establishment of a genuine integration policy, with efforts to forge connections and dialogue between migrants and other societal groups, and stressed the need for the political participation of migrants and the continuation of the possibility of naturalisation for the children of migrants who were born and raised in Greece.
The Racist Violence Recording Network in Greece has recorded over 200 instances of racist violence in Greece between October 2011 and December 2012 and, according to the Commissioner, this is “only the tip of the iceberg.”
ECRE Weekly Bulletin – 08 February 2013
The Commissioner visited Greece between 28 January and 1 February. During his visit he spoke with many victims of racist violence and he will be releasing a full report on his visit in the coming months.