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Greece Pledges Better Treatment of Migrants

On the heels of a Human Rights Watch report urging Greece to stop its abuse of migrants, the government announced the release of 1,200 migrants from holding cells and pledged to “drastically improve the country’s human rights record.” After the crackdown on migrants this summer, we welcome Greece’s promise, including its pledge to create a police department to investigate alleged abuses and to take the asylum procedure away from the police.

In fall 2008, we published Left to Survive, which exposed Greece’s inhumane treatment of unaccompanied migrant children, and Stuck in a Revolving Door, which documented its dysfunctional asylum system and the systematic practice of dumping migrants and asylum seekers across the border in Turkey.

This August, ahead of Greece’s review before the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, we briefed the committee. Quoting the testimony of an Afghan boy from our report, the committee voiced concern over ill-treatment of migrants in Greece and demanded the government report on its efforts to treat migrants humanely within a year, ahead of the committee’s normally imposed reporting schedule.

On November 1, under concerted pressure from human rights advocates, Greece closed its Lesvos Island detention center and set the migrants held there free.

Our researchers will continue to monitor the treatment of migrants, including asylum seekers and unaccompanied children, to ensure the government not only follows through on its stated promises, but also provides care for unaccompanied children, ends the secret expulsion of migrants, and sets up a fair and transparent asylum system.
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