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."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Blast in Kabul kills 14, Afghanistan's returning VP escapes unharmed

    World News CBC News
    Afghanistan's first vice-president, a former Uzbek warlord, escaped unharmed, but 14 people were killed in an explosion near the airport as he returned home on Sunday after living in Turkey for over a year, according to security officials. Source
  • Trump says redacted documents on wiretapping of ex-adviser Carter Page 'misled the courts'

    World News CBC News
    President Donald Trump asserted without evidence Sunday that newly released documents relating to the wiretapping of his onetime campaign adviser Carter Page "confirm with little doubt" that intelligence agencies misled the court that approved the warrant. Source
  • U.K. police think boy, 3, was attacked with acid at store

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- A 3-year-old boy suffered severe burns on his face and arm during a suspected acid attack in England that investigators think was deliberate, police said Sunday. West Mercia police Chief Superintendent Mark Travis said police were working to identify the substance that burned the child Saturday at a discount store in Worcester. Source
  • Who are the White Helmets? Explaining the Syrian 'do-gooders'

    World News CTV News
    The volunteer group spirited out of Syria under cover of night has been the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary and was once considered a front-runner for the Nobel Peace Prize. The White Helmets and their families were rescued by the Israeli military and brought to Jordan, where they will be resettled in Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom. Source
  • Three people dead, one injured in crash near Belledune, New Brunswick

    Canada News CTV News
    BELLEDUNE, N.B. -- Police are investigating after a two-vehicle crash in northeastern New Brunswick claimed the lives of three people and sent one other to hospital. Northeast District RCMP say Bathurst officers responded to the collision on Highway 11 near Belledune, N.B. Source
  • As Okanagan fires stabilize, officials warn of coming heat in B.C.

    Canada News CBC News
    Though many of the fires burning through B.C.'s Okanagan stabilized on Saturday thanks to cooler conditions, officials are expecting they could ramp up again as temperatures rise. "The situation is definitely stabilized from where we were at, say, 72 hours ago," said fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek. Source
  • Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau's nanny

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA - The nanny caring for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's kids has been given a full-time salary and a slight pay increase compared with the reported hourly rate she was paid shortly after Trudeau took office in 2015. Source
  • Minimum wage increases bite into funding boost for Canada Summer Jobs program

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Rising provincial minimum wages have cut into the reach of the Liberal government's oft-touted increase to summer jobs spending by reducing the number of weekly hours being funded this year. The Liberals have doubled spending on the politically popular program to approximately $220 million in order to boost the number of available jobs to 70,000 from about 35,000. Source
  • Crews from other provinces, U.S., Mexico helping Ontario fight forest fires

    Canada News CBC News
    Crews fighting forest fires in northern Ontario are receiving help from other provinces, the U.S. and Mexico as they try to contain several blazes after days of hot and humid weather. Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry said in a release that, as of Saturday night, 64 forest fires were burning in the northern and northeastern half of the province, with 29 of them out of control. Source
  • With 29 fires out of control, Ontario gets help from U.S., Mexico, other provinces

    Canada News CBC News
    Crews fighting forest fires in northern Ontario are receiving help from other provinces, the U.S. and Mexico as they try to contain several blazes after days of hot and humid weather. Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry said in a release that, as of Saturday night, 64 forest fires were burning in the northern and northeastern half of the province, with 29 of them out of control. Source