Conditions in purpose-built immigration detention facilities as well as in places of detention (including police cells, border guard stations, other non-detention specific locations) throughout Greece continue to be of great concern, to civil society, regional bodies but also to UN experts. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recently concluded an 11 day visit of Greece at the end of January 2013 and its report notes that, “in most detention facilities visited by the Working Group, the conditions fall far below international human rights standards, including in terms of severe overcrowding.”

Asylum seekers and irregular migrants are often housed alongside criminal detainees and time in detention for these groups can be for as long as 18 months in intolerable and inhumane conditions. This includes in locations where persons should only be detained for a period of only 24 hours.

The Working Group stresses in their report that the non-application of alternatives to detention, the lack of effective judicial review as well as the excessive length of detention may render the detention of irregular migrants and asylum-seekers arbitrary. “The imprisonment of a migrant or an asylum seeker for up to 18 months, in conditions that are sometimes found to be even worse than in the regular prisons, could be considered as a punishment imposed on a person who has not committed any crime,” added Working Group Member Mr Vladimir Tochilovsky. “It appears to be a serious violation of the principle of proportionality which may render the deprivation of liberty arbitrary.”

Read full OHCHR End of Mission report here-

Associated media: