Council of Europe slams Greece over prison conditions

ATHENS, Greece - Europe's leading human rights body has slammed conditions in Greek prisons and criticized the handling of police abuse allegations, describing dramatic circumstances for the country's detainees and saying not enough improvements have been made despite repeated recommendations.

See Full Article

The situation in Greece's prisons has "further deteriorated to the point where lives are being lost," the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture said in a 76-page report released Tuesday, based on a visit to the country last April by a delegation from the group.

It cited severe overcrowding, with some prisons at double their capacity, a lack of health care and major staff shortages as well as often appalling hygienic conditions.

"Currently, many prisons in Greece are merely acting as warehouses in which to hold people until they are eligible to be released back into the community," the report said. "It is high time to change the way prisons function in Greece."

Over the years, the European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly ruled against Greece in complaints filed by inmates claiming inhuman and degrading treatment in the country's detention facilities. The Committee for the Prevention of Torture had equally criticized conditions, most recently in reports in 2014 and 2012, each time saying its recommendations for improvements hadn't been implemented.

"The situation has now deteriorated to the point where over and above the serious ill-treatment concerns ..., there are very real right to life issues ... in as much as vulnerable prisoners are not being cared for and, in some cases, are being allowed to die," the report said.

Greece's justice ministry and police authorities, in responses also released Tuesday, noted improvements in several areas and said efforts were being made to address other issues, while investigations had been ordered into allegations of police mistreatment of several suspects detained in police stations.

The government said new laws have led to a reduction of the overall prison population, and it set out a series of targets to be achieved over the next three years. While the justice ministry said some parts of the report "seem like an exaggeration of the overall situation, this doesn't lessen our serious concerns about the disappointing situation at Korydallos Prison Hospital."

The prison hospital, the only one of its kind in Greece, was singled out for particular criticism for unhygienic conditions and a lack of staff. Inmates in the facility, which is part of the country's largest prison complex and is located near Athens, have previously gone on hunger strike to protest conditions, and have posted photos of the interior on social media to back up their claims.

Despite this, "at the time of the CPT's visit, urgent action had still not been taken to remedy the situation which was so drastic that the place could be compared to a dumping ground for sick prisoners who are subsequently neglected and not provided with the care required," the report said. "Such an appalling state of affairs cannot be permitted to continue."

The report welcomed commitments from the justice ministry to tackle the issues and improve the health care facilities.

As in previous visits to Greek prisons, the council found nearly no allegations of ill-treatment of inmates by prison staff. But it noted violence and intimidation among prisoners themselves was "a serious problem" that sometimes led to severe injuries requiring hospitalization. The report attributed the violence to severe staff shortages, such as in Korydallos, where a wing of 350-400 inmates would be staffed by just one or two prison officers.

The committee likened the situation to "a boiling cauldron left to simmer away with violent eruptions every few months."


Latest Canada & World News

  • Taliban brief Pakistan about talks with Kabul

    World News CTV News
    ISLAMABAD - Three senior Taliban members travelled to Pakistan this week and held a series of meetings with Pakistani officials in Islamabad, mainly to brief them about the recent talks held in Qatar between the Taliban and Kabul, a senior Taliban official, an Afghan diplomat and a Pakistani official said Saturday. Source
  • Montana judge sparks outrage with no prison time for man charged with incest

    World News CTV News
    HELENA, Mont. -- A judge's decision not to order prison time for a Montana man who raped his 12-year-old daughter has sparked outrage from afar and calls closer to home to toughen the state's law, which allows such lenience in certain circumstances. Source
  • At least 53 killed after overloaded train derails in Cameroon

    World News CTV News
    ESEKA, Cameroon -- An overloaded train derailed along the route that links Cameroon's two major cities on Friday, killing at least 53 people and injuring more than 300, the government said. The injured could not be evacuated until rail travel is re-established, said government spokesman Issa Tchiroma, adding that the death toll is likely to rise. Source
  • No discipline for Minneapolis cops in Jamar Clark slaying

    World News Toronto Sun
    Minneapolis’ police chief says two officers followed proper procedure in a confrontation that led to the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark in November and won’t face discipline. Chief Janee Harteau said Friday that an internal investigation found the officers were warranted in using deadly force in the death of the 24-year-old black man. Source
  • Syrian government carried out chemical attack on citizens: report

    World News CTV News
    An international team has determined that the Syrian government carried out a third chemical attack in the conflict-wracked nation, according to a report released late Friday. In August, the team from the United Nations and the chemical weapons watchdog blamed President Bashar Assad's government for using chlorine gas in two attacks and Islamic State fighters for using mustard gas in one attack. Source
  • Chris Christie knew of plan to shut N.J. bridge, aide testifies

    World News CTV News
    NEWARK, N.J. -- Republican Gov. Chris Christie approved of a traffic study on the George Washington Bridge, his former deputy chief of staff testified Friday in her criminal trial, but federal prosecutors say it was actually a cover story for a political payback scheme designed to cause traffic jams. Source
  • Convicted pedophile faces new charges of public nudity, mischief

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Ottawa police have laid new charges of public nudity against a convicted pedophile who is currently appealing the court ruling against him. Jeffrey Wills, 42, of Ottawa, was arrested on Thursday following a police investigation which took place between Oct. Source
  • Former $10-million lottery winner fined $5,000 after giving OxyContin pill to undercover cop in prostitution sting

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    An Edmonton man who once won a $10-million Lotto 6/49 jackpot was fined $5,000 Friday for giving an OxyContin pill to a female undercover police officer posing as a prostitute. Cecil Underwood, 67, was also placed on probation for two years after earlier pleading guilty to drug trafficking. Source
  • Police arrest 35 suspected members of Long Island Gang after teen's remains found

    World News CTV News
    BRENTWOOD, N.Y. - Thirty-five suspected members of a Long Island gang have been arrested amid a string of brutal killings, including the discovery of a teenager's skeletal remains. Jose Pena-Hernandez, 18, was believed to be a member of the MS-13 gang with links to El Salvador and Los Angeles, the Suffolk County assistant police commissioner, Justin Meyers, told The Associated Press on Friday. Source
  • Police arrest 35 suspected members of a Long Island gang

    World News Toronto Sun
    BRENTWOOD, N.Y. — Thirty-five suspected members of a Long Island gang have been arrested amid a string of brutal killings, including the discovery of a teenager’s skeletal remains. Jose Pena-Hernandez, 18, was believed to be a member of the MS-13 gang with links to El Salvador and Los Angeles, the Suffolk County assistant police commissioner, Justin Meyers, told The Associated Press on Friday. Source