Council of Europe anti-torture Committee visits “hotspots” in Greece

A delegation of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out an ad hoc visit to Greece from 13 to 18 April 2016.
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The purpose of the visit was to examine the situation of foreign nationals deprived of their liberty in the recently established “Reception and Identification Centres” (so-called “hotspots”). Particular attention was paid to the treatment, conditions, regime, health-care services and legal safeguards offered to them. To this end, the delegation visited the Moria “hotspot” on Lesvos and the VIAL “hotspot” on Chios and spoke in private with foreign nationals (including families, unaccompanied children and other vulnerable groups) held in both centres. It also visited Mytilini police station on Lesvos and Chios police station and the coast guard detention facility on Chios.

At the end of the visit, the delegation presented its preliminary observations to Ioannis MOUZALAS, Alternate Minister of Migration Policy, and Nikolaos TOSKAS, Alternate Minister of Citizen Protection.

The delegation welcomed the fact that the Greek authorities provided it with the opportunity to present its preliminary observations to senior officials from the relevant ministries together with representatives of the European Union Coordinator for the Implementation of the EU-Turkey Agreement and the EU External Borders Agency Frontex, the Greek Ombudsman’s Office and the UNHCR Office in Greece.

In the course of the visit, the delegation also met Zacharoula TSIRIGOTI, Chief of Staff of the Hellenic Police Headquarters, and other senior officials from the Ministry of Migration Policy, the Ministry of Citizen Protection, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health as well as representatives of the First Reception Service and the Asylum Service.

Further, discussions were held with Vassilis KARYDIS, Acting Greek Ombudsman and Head of the National Preventive Mechanism, and representatives of the UNHCR Office in Greece and non-governmental organisations active in the areas of concern to the CPT, including Amnesty International, Aitima, the Greek Council for Refugees, Médecins du Monde and Médecins sans Frontières.

The visit was carried out by Anton VAN KALMTHOUT and Julia KOZMA, both members of the CPT. They were supported by Jeroen SCHOKKENBROEK, Executive Secretary, and Sebastian RIETZ of the CPT's Secretariat, and assisted by Alan MITCHELL, general medical practitioner, Dungavel House Immigration Removal Centre, United Kingdom (expert).

The delegation’s preliminary observations on the visit will be submitted to the Greek authorities shortly in writing.

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