• 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.



  • Jun 24, 2014
    When Human Rights Watch first saw Yemi, the 17-year-old boy was huddled on a concrete bench in the corner of a windowless, graffitied holding cell run by the French border police. Clad in a stiff new leather jacket but otherwise without clothing warm enough to face Paris in January, Yemi had been in the cell for nine hours.
  • Jun 4, 2014
  • Jun 3, 2014
    Political analysts, the media, political parties and even Prime Minister Antonis Samaras have been trying to figure out the shocking rise of the far-right, anti-immigrant Golden Dawn party in Greece. Golden Dawn became Greece's third most important political party, with nearly 10 percent of the vote in the European elections.
  • May 15, 2014
    My twitter feed on Monday was full of the latest tragedy in the Mediterranean. At least 17 people died when an overcrowded boat sank on the crossing from Libya to Italy, with many more still unaccounted for. We don’t know their names or their stories. They join the grim toll of perhaps 20,000 people over the last decade whose lives have ended trying to reach Europe for protection or a better life.
  • May 6, 2014
  • Apr 13, 2014
    Members of Greece’s parliament should include measures to combat racist and xenophobic violence in a draft anti-racism law. The bill, introduced in parliament by Justice Minister Haralampos Athanassiou on November 20, 2013, would impose sanctions for hate speech and incitement to violence but fails to address problems in existing Greek law and practice with respect to reporting and prosecuting racist violence.
  • Apr 1, 2014
  • Mar 26, 2014
    The Greek government should immediately drop plans that would deter migrant victims from reporting law enforcement abuse. The government should also reintroduce measures to protect undocumented victims and witnesses of crimes, including racist violence. Parliament is debating these issues as it examines a draft immigration code.
  • Mar 24, 2014
  • Jan 30, 2014
    Members of Greece’s parliament should urgently establish an inquiry into all allegations of collective expulsions, pushbacks, and dangerous maneuvers by the Greek Coast Guard on Greece’s sea borders with Turkey. Twelve women and children died off the Greek island of Farmakonisi on January 20, 2014, in what survivors allege was a push-back operation in poor weather.