• Acknowledging alarming levels of xenophobic violence, the government created specialized police units, and there were some prosecutions for racist attacks. Access to asylum outside Athens and in detention remains difficult. Asylum seekers face detention for up to 18 months, often in unacceptable conditions. Tens of thousands of people were subject to abusive police stops, including arbitrary deprivation of liberty, based on little more than appearance as part of a crackdown on irregular immigration. Persistent allegations of collective expulsions of asylum seekers at sea prompted calls for an independent inquiry. Regulations allow detention for forced HIV testing and of migrants and asylum seekers on broad public health grounds. A blasphemy conviction for a satirical Facebook page raised freedom of speech concerns.

  • European Union flags fly in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. © Reuters 2012
    Amid economic crisis and much contested austerity measures in many member states, discrimination, racism, and homophobia remained serious problems in European Union member states.  Roma, migrants, and asylum seekers are particularly marginalized. The Council of the European Union acknowledged for the first time that more is needed to ensure human rights violations within EU borders are adequately addressed, with an ongoing policy debate focused on improving responses to rule of law crises. Meanwhile, abusive practices around the EU continued without adequate action by EU institutions and member states.

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Greece