News / Europe

    Rights Group Accuses Greece of 'Abusive' Crackdown on Migrants

    Immigrants living in Greece take part in a rally in front of the parliament as they protest against racism attacks in Athens, August 24, 2012.
    Immigrants living in Greece take part in a rally in front of the parliament as they protest against racism attacks in Athens, August 24, 2012.
    Selah Hennessy
    Greek police carrying out a crackdown on irregular migration are accused of conducting abusive stop and searches and detaining thousands of people, according to a report published Wednesday.  Human Rights Watch says people are being treated unfairly based on their race or ethnicity.

    “There are police patrols deployed daily in the center of Athens who are stopping people presumed to be undocumented migrants," says Eva Cossé, a Greece specialist at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. "If you take a look in the center of Athens you will see police officers with 10, 20 people who look like migrants behind them.”

    Afterwards they are detained on police buses, brought to police stations and held for hours, she said.

    The operation called Xenios Zeus was launched in August in a crack down on undocumented migrants in Athens.  In its first six months police forcibly took 85,000 foreigners to police stations to verify their immigration status. 

    According to Human Rights Watch, no more than six percent were found to be in Greece illegally.

    Greek authorities say it is necessary to bring foreigners to the police station to identify forged documents and verify photocopies of documents.  But Cossé says police are casting their net too far.

    "It is proven that when police operations are based on stereotypes and not intelligence and information on where criminals gather, where there is criminal activity or undocumented migrants, of course the effectiveness of the operation raises concerns,” she said.

    Cossé says xenophobia is on the rise across Greece and Operation Xenios Zeus is only fueling animosity towards foreigners.

    She says Greece should be investing in providing proper training to the police so the operation successfully targets undocumented migrants.

    “Police officers participating in Operation Xenios Zeus are not receiving any training on how to identify who is legal, who is undocumented, any training on asylum issues.  So it is very important for police to provide the necessary training,” she said.

    Cossé says the police in Athens say they are open to the recommendations made by Human Rights Watch.

    The treatment of migrants and asylum seekers in Greece was also highlighted by Amnesty International, last month.  In its annual global report, it blamed the economic crisis for stoking tensions.

    Amnesty International highlighted new laws, including allowing the detention of undocumented migrants and asylum-seekers on grounds such as suspicion of carrying HIV.

    Police were also given the power to extend the detention of asylum-seekers without charge.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora