UN Recommendations for
May 31, 2005
Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) and Minority
Rights Group-Greece (MRG-G) distribute the concluding observations and
recommendations to Greece issued by the UN Human Rights Committee on
31 March 2005. This was preceded, on 22 and 23 March, by HRC’s review
of Greece’s report and oral presentation on compliance with the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). In addition, the HRC
considered nine reports or notes and oral presentations by GHM, MRG-G,
and Amnesty International as well as a written submission by the Centre
on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE).
All published material is available
at the special GHM/MRG-G web page: For
More Information Please Visit the Human Rights Committee
Page at GHM/MRG-G
GHM and MRG-G note that the HRC positions are a vindication of more
than ten years work of these two NGOs on human and minority rights,
for which they have repeatedly been the object of attacks by the Greek
state (including during the recent HRC session…). The UN HRC adopted
GHM & MRG-G positions even on issues, like the recognition of the
Macedonian and Turkish minorities, with which no other Greek organization
or institution has dealt, if they have not been critical of GHM and
on civil and
31 March 2005
|HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 40 OF THE COVENANT
Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee
ADVANCE UNEDITED VERSION
1. The Human Rights Committee considered the initial report of Greece
(CCPR/C/GRC/2004/1) at its 2267th to 2269th meetings, on 22 and 23 March
2005 (CCPR/C/SR. 2267-2269). It adopted the following concluding observations
at its 2279 meeting held on 31 March 2005 (see CCPR/C/SR.2279).
2. The Committee welcomes the initial report of Greece and the extensive
written and oral responses given to the list of issues by the delegation.
Although the Committee regrets that the report was submitted almost
six years after it was due, it expresses appreciation for a constructive
dialogue with the State party.
B. Positive aspects
3. The Committee welcomes the fact that the Greek Constitution provides
for the direct applicability of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights within domestic law, and notes the efforts being
made to disseminate the Covenant and the Committee's jurisprudence among
members of the Judiciary.
4. The Committee welcomes the adoption of Law 3169/2003 on the "Bearing
and use of firearms by police officers, relevant training and other
provisions" and a Code of Police Ethics containing, inter alia,
guidelines for arrest and detention.
5. The Committee welcomes the recent adoption by Parliament of a law
on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment irrespective
of racial or ethnic origin, religious or other beliefs, disability,
age or sexual orientation.
6. The Committee welcomes the legislative framework and National Action
Plan to combat trafficking in human beings, put in place to prevent
and punish this crime and provide assistance to victims.
C. Principal subjects of concern and recommendations
7. Notwithstanding a variety of programmes intended to deal with domestic
violence, the Committee regrets the prevalence of domestic violence
against women and the lack of specific provisions on domestic violence,
including marital rape, in the current criminal code. (articles 3 and
The Committee recommends that the State party take measures to raise
awareness of the problem of domestic violence and to protect the victims
and include specific provisions on domestic violence in its penal legislation.
8. The Committee is concerned about the impediments that Muslim women
might face as a result of the non-application of the general law of
Greece to the Muslim minority on matters such as marriage and inheritance.
(articles 3 and 23)
The Committee urges the State party to increase the awareness of Muslim
women of their rights and remedies and to ensure that they benefit from
the provisions of Greek civil law.
9. The Committee is concerned about reported cases of disproportionate
use of force by the police, including fatal shootings, and ill-treatment
at the time of arrest and during police custody. Police violence against
migrants and Roma appears to be recurrent. The Committee is equally
concerned about the reported failure of the judicial and administrative
systems to deal promptly and effectively with such cases and the leniency
of courts in the few cases where law enforcement officers have been
convicted. (articles 2 and 7)
(a) The State party should end police violence without delay. It should
increase its efforts to ensure that education on the prohibition of
torture and ill-treatment, as well as sensitization on issues of racial
discrimination are included in the training of law enforcement personnel.
(b) The State party should ensure that all alleged cases of torture,
ill-treatment and disproportionate use of force by police officers are
fully and promptly investigated, that those found guilty are punished
under laws that ensure that sentences are commensurate with the gravity
of the offence, and that compensation is provided to the victims or
their families. The State party is requested to provide the Committee
with detailed statistical data on complaints relating to cases of torture,
ill-treatment and disproportionate use of force by the police, including
the outcome of the investigations on those cases, disaggregated by national
and ethnic origin of the persons subject to the use of force.
(c) The State party should inform the Committee of the progress made
in reviewing the current Disciplinary Law for police officers, and the
status, mandate and achievements of bodies dealing with complaints against
10. The Committee notes that Greece is a main transit route for trafficking
in human beings, as well as a country of destination. While welcoming
the efforts made by the State party to fight this scourge, it remains
concerned, in particular, about the reported lack of effective protection
of the victims, many of whom are women and children, including witness
protection mechanisms. (article 3, 8, and 24)
a) The State party should continue to take measures to combat trafficking
in human beings, which constitutes a violation of several Covenant rights,
including articles 3 and 24. The human rights of the victims of trafficking
should be protected, including whereby they have a place of refuge as
well as an opportunity to give evidence against the persons responsible
in criminal or civil proceedings.
b) The Committee urges the State party to protect unaccompanied alien
children, and to avoid unsupervised release of such children into the
general population. The absence of child welfare protection increases
the danger of trafficking and exposes the children to other risks. The
State party should conduct a judicial investigation concerning the approximately
500 children who went missing from the Aghia Varvara institution between
1998 and 2002, and provide the Committee with information on the outcome.
11. The Committee is concerned about reports that undocumented aliens
are detained in overcrowded facilities with poor living and sanitary
conditions, are not informed of their rights, and lack any effective
means of communication with their families and their lawyers. (article
The State party should ensure that undocumented aliens are held in
facilities with adequate living and sanitary conditions, are informed
of their rights, including the right to appeal and to lodge complaints,
and are afforded effective means of communication with their families
12. The Committee is concerned at the overcrowding and poor conditions
prevailing in some jails and prisons. (article 10)
While noting the State party's efforts in this regard, the Committee
recommends that the State party continue to take measures to address
such problems by, inter alia, considering additional alternative measures
13. The Committee is concerned about civil law provisions that appear
to authorize the imprisonment of a debtor for failure to pay a debt.
Despite the state party's interpretive use of the Covenant in mitigation
of this statutory provision, this law may be applied in ways that are
incompatible with article 11 of the Covenant. (article 11)
The State Party should bring its legislation into full conformity with
the substantive obligations contained in article 11 of the Covenant.
14. The Committee is concerned at allegations of discrimination against
members of minority religions, including in the field of education.
In particular, public school students are required to attend instructional
classes in the Christian Orthodox religion and can opt out only after
declaring their religion (article 18 of the Covenant).
a) The State party should take measures in order to ensure full respect
for the rights and freedoms of each religious community in conformity
with the Covenant;
b) The Committee encourages the State party to hold consultations with
the representatives of minority religions, in order to find practical
solutions to permit religious instruction to those desiring such opportunities.
Pupils not wishing to attend religious education classes should not
be obliged to declare their religion.
15. The Committee is concerned that the length of alternative service
for conscientious objectors is much longer than military service, and
that the assessment of applications for such service is solely under
the control of the Ministry of Defence. (article 18)
The State party should ensure that the length of alternative service
to military service does not have a punitive character, and should consider
placing the assessment of applications of conscientious objectors under
the control of civilian authorities.
16. While noting that a legislative amendment to ban corporal punishment
in secondary schools has been tabled in Parliament, the Committee is
concerned at reports of a widespread practice of corporal punishment
of children in the schools. (article 24).
The Committee recommends that the State party prohibit all forms of
violence against children wherever it occurs, including corporal punishment
in the schools, and undertake public information efforts on the appropriate
protection of children from violence.
17. The Committee is also concerned at reported neglect of the situation
of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum or illegally residing in the
country. (article 24)
The Committee recommends that the State party develop a procedure to
address the specific needs of unaccompanied non-citizen children, and
to ensure their best interests in the course of any immigration, expulsion
and related proceedings.
18. The Committee is concerned that the Roma people remain disadvantaged
in many aspects of life covered by the Covenant. (articles 26 and 27)
a) The State party should intensify its efforts to improve the situation
of the Roma people in a manner that is respectful of their cultural
identity, in particular, through the adoption of positive measures regarding
housing, employment, education and social services.
b) The State party should submit detailed information on the results
achieved by public and private institutions responsible for the advancement
and welfare of the Roma people.
19. The Committee is concerned at reports of continued discrimination
against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation. (articles
17 and 26)
The State party should provide remedies against discriminatory practices
on the basis of sexual orientation, as well as informational measures
to address patterns of prejudice and discrimination.
20. The Committee notes the state party's commitment that all citizens
in Greece should enjoy equal rights, regardless of religion or ethnic
origin. However, the Committee notes with concern the apparent unwillingness
of the government to allow any private groups or associations to use
associational names that include the appellation "Turk" or "Macedonian",
based upon the state party's assertion that there are no ethnic, religious
or linguistic minorities in Greece other than Muslims in Thrace. The
Committee notes that individuals belonging to such minorities have a
right under the Covenant to the enjoyment of their own culture, the
profession and practice of their own religion, and the use of their
own language in community with other members of their group. (article
The State party should review its practice in light of Article 27 of
21. The Committee sets 1 April 2009 as the date of submission of Greece's
second periodic report. It requests that the text of the State party's
initial report and the present concluding observations be published
and widely disseminated throughout the country, and that the second
periodic report be brought to the attention of non-governmental organizations
operating in the country.
22. In accordance with rule 71, paragraph 5, of the Committee's rules
of procedure, the State party should provide information within one
year on the follow-up given to the Committee's recommendations in paras.
9, 10 b) and 11 above. The Committee requests the State party to provide
information in its next report on the other recommendations made and
on the implementation of the Covenant as a whole.