The latest report of the European Committee on the Prevention of Torture (CPT), following a visit to Greece in April 2018, reiterates criticism of inhuman detention conditions, while expressing concern at the increasing use of immigration detention.

The CPT delegation visited police stations in the Attica and Evros regions, as well as the pre-removal detention centres of Amygdaleza in Attica, Fylakio in Evros, Pyli on Kos and Moria on Lesvos. While reporting that the quality of conditions varied across pre-removal centres, the Committee found severe overcrowding in the police station of Neo Cheimonio, where people were held in a cell in less than 2 square meters of living space per person and children were required to share a sponge mattress with their parents. It also noted grossly substandard conditions in the police station of Isaakio, where groups were held in filthy cells without being given dry clothes after crossing the Evros river.

The Committee noted again credible allegations of ill-treatment by police authorities in detention. “These allegations consisted of slaps, punches, and kicks to various parts of the body (including the face/head) as well as baton blows, and mainly related to detention places in the Evros region (i.e. Fylakio Pre-removal Centre, Fylakio RIC and Tychero Police and Border Guard Station), as well as to Moria Pre-removal Centre on Lesvos Island.”

Finally, the CPT echoed critiques against push back operations carried out by Greece on the Evros land border. The Committee corroborated reports of patterns followed by Greek authorities, whereby newly arrived persons are apprehended, brought to a nearby police station in Evros, are stripped of their phones and other belongings, and are held for several hours or even overnight before being pushed back.

Responding to the report, the Ministry of Citizen Protection stated that “the reported behaviours and practices do not exist as an operational activity and practice of the staff of the Border Guard Services at all”.

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Photo: (CC) Nonviolent Peaceforce, February 2014

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.