September 21, 2011

Methodology and Scope

Human Rights Watch conducted research for this report in Greece from November 28 to December 4, 2010 and from February 13 to February 17, 2011. We visited the following places of detention in Greece: Venna detention center; Fylakio detention center; Tychero police station detention cells; Feres police station detention cells; Soufli police station detention cells. Outside of detention, we interviewed migrants living in the city of Athens.

Two Human Rights Watch researchers conducted 65 individual interviews with migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in Greece. Interviews with migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers were conducted directly in English, Arabic, Russian, and French. We also conducted interviews with the aid of interpreters in Dari, Pashtu, and Persian.

Human Rights Watch interviewed detainees from various nationalities including 14 Iraqis, 10 Iranians, and smaller numbers from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Syria, Tunisia, Morocco, Palestine, Sudan, Algeria, Cameroon, Georgia, Sri Lanka, and Turkey.  The interviewees generally were males in their twenties or early thirties. Most were traveling singly and not part of family groups. We did however interview 7 women and 12 children from ages 14 to 17. 

Individual interviews averaged about 30 minutes but some lasted well over one hour. In some cases Human Rights Watch picked out interviewees in detention and reception centers from among those who indicated a willingness to be interviewed after we made a group presentation. Outside of detention centers, local nongovernmental service providers and migrant community members helped to identify interviewees. Interviews were conducted in privacy with no third parties present other than an interpreter. Where a family member was present, this is indicated in the text.

In all cases, Human Rights Watch told interviewees that they would receive no personal service or benefit for their testimonies and that the interviews were confidential. All names of refugee and migrant interviewees are withheld for their protection and for the protection of their families. The notation used in this report uses a letter and a number for each interview; the letter indicates the person who conducted the interview and the number refers to the person being interviewed. All interviews are on file with Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch also interviewed Greek police officials responsible for migrant detention centers in the Evros region.

We interviewed Frontex’s deputy executive director in Evros and other Frontex officials in Frontex’s Piraeus office, but the “guest guards” of participating states deployed to Greece through Frontex indicated that they did not have permission to answer our questions regarding their experience in Greece. We corresponded in writing with Frontex officials during the research, writing, and editing phases of this report, which incorporates their comments on portions of an earlier draft of this report.