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USDS HR Report Greece 1993

USDS HR Report Greece 1993

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Published by: edo-peiraias.blogspot.com on Aug 16, 2009
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U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1993 -Greece
Greece is a constitutional republic and parliamentary democracy. In free and fair national parliamentary elections in October, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement(PASOK) won a comfortable majority, and its leader, Andreas Papandreou, becamePrime Minister. The defeated New Democracy Party of former Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis assumed the role of the opposition. President ConstantineKaramanlis, the largely ceremonial Head of State, was chosen by Parliament in April1990.The police and security services are subject to a broad variety of legal andconstitutional restraints. The Greek Parliament, a vigorous free press, the judiciary,committees and deputies of the European Parliament, and Greek and internationalhuman rights organizations monitor their activities. These institutions and groups brought to light cases of improper activities and pressed the Government to put a stopto such activities.The National Intelligence Service in an internal report (which was leaked to the pressin August) pointed to non-Greek Orthodox persons and organizations as potentiallydangerous to Greece and monitored their activities and maintained dossiers on them.The Mitsotakis Government stated that the report had been immediately withdrawnand that it did not represent its position (see Section 2.c.).The Greek economy has a very large state sector with a strong tradition of patronage.To promote further economic development, Greece relies heavily on the EuropeanCommunity (EC) for subsidies and loans. Political polarization and opposition fromlabor unions and other groups hamper government efforts to reduce the budget deficitand strengthen the private sector.The Constitution protects, and the authorities generally respect, fundamental humanrights. There continued to be reports, investigated and mostly denied by theGovernment, of Greek border guards and military personnel abusing Albanian illegalaliens, resulting in the deaths of at least four Albanians. A bilateral dispute withAlbania in June and July led to mass roundups of Albanians working in Greece - most but not all of them illegally - and their summary expulsion to Albania.
Other human rights problems in 1993 included prosecution of persons who dissentedon sensitive foreign policy and minority issues or who "insulted authority,"restrictions on religious practice, discrimination against Gypsies, and continued use of Article 19 of the Citizenship Code to revoke the citizenship of Greek citizens who arenot ethnic Greeks, despite assurance by senior government officials in 1991 thatArticle 19 would be repealed.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTSSection 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
 Neither government forces nor legal opposition groups engaged in political killing. Incontrast to previous years, no lethal terrorist attacks occurred in 1993. However,during 1993 there were allegations that Greek border guards and military personnelkilled several Albanians who had illegally entered Greece. The Army is conducting aninvestigation to determine whether to court-martial a soldier who fatally shot anAlbanian immigrant on February 27. In another case three Albanians reportedly fellover a cliff to their deaths when a Greek border patrol fired at them during a nightchase through rugged terrain.As a result of the investigation into the case of accused drug dealer Suleyman Akyar,who was reportedly beaten to death in January 1991 while in official custody, the prosecutor proposed that three police officers be charged with using excessive forceleading to death, a felony. The three police officers were subsequently exonerated,however, and the official cause of death was ruled to be pneumonia.A German citizen, Ramon Joachim Schulz, died in a prison in Crete in August under questionable circumstances. The official cause of death was listed as a heart attack, but there was strong evidence that he had suffered a severe beating while in detention.The Ministry of Justice opened a further investigation into the case at the request of the German Government.
b. Disappearance
Amnesty International (AI) reported the disappearance of two ethnic Greeks withAlbanian citizenship who were detained by police in Zagora on March 4 and never seen again.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Constitution specifically forbids torture, and a 1984 law makes the use of torturean offense punishable by a sentence of from 3 years to life imprisonment. This lawhas never been invoked. Although reports of police abuse declined in 1993, defenseattorneys and other sources continued to report that the police beat detainees in theinitial arrest and investigative phase in order to extract information and confession,and then held detainees in harsh conditions in holding cells. Allegations persisted that police and military personnel beat and otherwise abused illegal Albanian aliens in the process of deporting them, including credible reports of such beatings during the massexpulsions in July (see Section 2.d.).AI issued a report in 1992 describing incidents occurring in 1990 and 1991 in which police and prison guards allegedly tortured or ill-treated individuals or groups of  people in their custody. An appendix, summarizing cases raised with the Greek authorities since 1986, included 54 alleged victims in 1991. According to the report,methods of ill-treatment included punching, kicking, and beating with sticks, clubs, or truncheons. Beating on the soles of the feet was also reported. The Governmentconducted its own internal reviews and reported in 1993 that police and guards inmost instances had been exonerated.Although concluding that most AI allegations were groundless, the Minister of PublicOrder, in public statements in 1992 about terrorism, acknowledged shortcomings in police discipline and promised corrective action. In further conversations about the AIreport in September 1993, senior police officials stressed that they had institutedtraining programs to ensure that proper procedures are followed and that the humanrights of detainees are respected. They said that the Ministry had ordered policecommanders to carry out serious investigations of reports of abuse, to inspectregularly conditions in police holding cells, and to punish officers who break the law.In March a five-member delegation of the Council of Europe's (COE) Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,assisted by four professional consultants and COE staff, visited over 20 prisons, police stations, and hospitals. The Committee's confidential report to the Governmentwas in preparation at year's end.The Ministry of Justice acknowledged that conditions in many prisons are deplorable.Most prisons are severely overcrowded, particularly the Korydallos prison near Athens, and medical care is inadequate. There were relatively few reports of physicalabuse in Greek prisons. According to one credible report, two Albanian prisoners whoattempted to escape from a prison on the island of Kos were beaten severely after their recapture. An official of the Ministry of Justice said the case was under investigation.

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