Refu­gees in the Greek har­bor city Patras are wit­hout any pro­tec­tion: they are being cha­sed, bea­ten, and detai­ned over and over again. They can­not escape this vicious cir­cle of vio­lence and depri­va­ti­on of rights becau­se any escape rou­tes to other European coun­tries are blo­cked. The report – published today by PRO ASYL and the Greek Coun­cil for Refu­gees – con­clu­des that vio­lence against refu­gees and migrants has a sys­te­ma­tic cha­rac­ter. The report is based on rese­arch car­ri­ed out from April to May 2012. The rese­ar­chers exami­ned more than 30 cases of ill-tre­at­ment well docu­men­ted by the phy­si­cal con­di­ti­on of the vic­tims. Accord­ing to the vic­tims the main per­pe­tra­tors of this ill-tre­at­ment are mem­bers of the Greek Poli­ce and the Spe­cial Forces of the Greek coast guard. The vic­tims are refu­gees and migrants from Afgha­ni­stan, Sudan, Eri­trea and Moroc­co – amongst the docu­men­ted cases, the­re are ele­ven unac­com­pa­nied minors. 

Accord­ing to vic­tims’ state­ments ass­aults usual­ly occur during raids and iden­ti­ty checks in the har­bor area, in self-made shel­ters of refu­gees or on the open street. The alle­ged vio­lence inclu­des ver­bal ass­aults, mas­si­ve intimi­da­ti­on and exces­si­ve phy­si­cal bru­ta­li­ty up to tor­tu­re. The­se human rights vio­la­ti­ons take place in a cli­ma­te of impu­ni­ty for the per­pe­tra­tors. Fur­ther­mo­re, huma­ne accom­mo­da­ti­on or healthcare for refu­gees is scar­ce in Patras and access to asyl­um pro­ce­du­res isn’t gua­ran­te­ed. Ins­tead, refu­gees are tar­gets of con­ti­nuous attacks from right extre­mist mobs.  

“The aim of the report is not to gene­ral­ly con­demn Poli­ce and Coast Guard or to jus­ti­fy any migrant or refugee’s cri­mi­nal action. The aim of the report is to con­tri­bu­te to a bet­ter under­stan­ding of the situa­ti­on of migrants and refu­gees in Patras as well as the roots of racism in this city. Fur­ther­mo­re, this report aims to push all rele­vant aut­ho­ri­ties to fur­ther inves­ti­ga­te the situa­ti­on in Patras, to stop the vio­lence and to lead per­pe­tra­tors to jus­ti­ce”, says Panos Chris­to­dou­lou, Direc­tor of the Greek Coun­cil for Refu­gees. 

PRO ASYL and the Greek Coun­cil for Refu­gees call on the new Greek Government, which will be elec­ted on Sunday, to take all necessa­ry actions to put an end to bru­ta­li­ty against refu­gees. First of all, the princip­le of rule-of-law needs to be ree­sta­b­lished. The per­pe­tra­tors of vio­lence need to be punis­hed and Greece needs to adhe­re to inter­na­tio­nal human right stan­dards. This inclu­des the estab­lish­ment of a func­tio­n­ing asyl­um and recep­ti­on sys­tem.

Final­ly, both orga­ni­za­ti­ons cri­ti­ci­ze the cyni­cal attempt to rein­tro­du­ce bor­der con­trols wit­hin the Schen­gen area, while igno­ring the tra­gic situa­ti­on of refu­gees who are trap­ped in Greek tran­sit. 

“European poli­ti­ci­ans, inclu­ding Ger­man Minis­ter of Inte­rior Fried­rich, have con­tri­bu­t­ed to the esca­la­ti­on in Patras and Athens with their popu­list cam­pai­gn against Greece,” sta­ted Karl Kopp, Direc­tor of European Affairs at PRO ASYL. “Ger­ma­ny and Euro­pe have to take con­cre­te action in order to pro­mo­te huma­ni­ty and soli­da­ri­ty. Given the cata­stro­phic situa­ti­on of refu­gees in Athens and Patras, EU mem­ber sta­tes need to deci­de on a generous relo­ca­ti­on pro­gram from Greece,” he con­clu­ded.   

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