20 February 2015
On Tuesday 17 February, the Greek government committed to only detaining migrants as an exceptional measure and for no longer than six months. The government also pledged to release vulnerable migrants and to use alternatives to detention for irregular migrants.
Finally, the government announced that the Amygdaleza detention centres will be closed, but the timeframe for its closure was not detailed.
The Greek government acknowledged that the current detention conditions in immigration centres amount to inhuman and degrading treatment and that the situation should be changed immediately.
The announcement followed the suicide of a 28 year-old Pakistani in the Amygdaleza immigration detention centre in northern Athens on Saturday evening. The man had been held in detention twice for a total of 25 months. According to activists, he was the second person to die in the Amygdaleza centre during that week, and the fourth since last summer. A few days later, a 23 year-old Yemeni national took his own life in the detention centre of the Aliens Directorate of Thessaloniki.
On Saturday 13 February, the Greek Alternative Minister for Citizens’ Protection Yiannis Panousis visited the Amygdaleza detention facility after the suicide of the Pakistani national and stated: “I am here to express my embarrassment. We are done with detention centres.”
The government had already announced it would stop detaining migrants beyond the 18-month limit set by the EU Returns Directive.
For further information:
- UNHCR, UNHCR welcomes the envisaged changes in the administrative detention of third country nationals, 19 February 2015
- Human Rights Watch, Greece: Address Longstanding Rights Issues, 19 February 2015
- United Nations regional Information Centre for Western Europe, UN Human Rights Office welcomes Greece’s envisaged changes in migration policy, 18February 2015
- Astinomia, Press release of the Deputy Ministers of Interior and Administrative Reconstruction Mr. And Mrs. John Panousi Anastasia Christodoulopoulou on Detention Centers, 17 February 2015
- Ekathimerini, Migrant centers to be shut down after suicide, 14 February 2015
- Reuters, Greece pledges to shut immigrant detention centres, 14 February 2015
- Sky Greece, Thessaloniki: suicide in immigration directorate centre, 14 February 2015
- Okea News, La Grèce s’engage à fermer les centres de détention pour migrants, 15 February 2015
- ECRE Weekly Bulletin, Greek government commits to end indefinite detention of migrants, 13 February 2015
This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 20 February 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.