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Lack of Protections Puts Women, Children at Risk

(Athens) – A law scheduled to take effect on September 16, 2021, that amends child custody provisions in Greece’s civil code places women and children survivors of domestic violence at risk, Human Rights Watch said today. The Greek government should…
Protesters in Athens, Greece on March 27, 2021 stand outside the Greek Parliament displaying a banner that reads “your sexism is harming both mother and child” against a new law that introduces presumptive co-custody of children, even in cases of domestic violence.
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Action Needed to End Lost Learning for Refugee, Asylum-Seeking Children

The first day of school in Greece, September 13, signals the return to in-person schooling for children after a year of Covid-19 related disruptions and learning loss. Today will be especially important for refugee and asylum-seeking children, most of…
Children play in a playground in the Ritsona refugee camp, north of Athens, Greece on October 22, 2019.
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Ensure All Asylum-Seeking Children Are Enrolled in Coming School Year

(Athens) – The Greek government should urgently reform discriminatory policies so that children seeking asylum can go to school when the new year begins on September 13, 2021, Human Rights Watch said today. Only 1 in 7 children living in camps was…
A refugee girl living in a camp near Athens.
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Criminal Investigations Risk Chilling Civil Society

Greek authorities are using criminal investigations to harass and intimidate groups that investigate abuses against migrants at Greece’s border. At a July 19 press conference, Greek police on the island of Lesbos announced a criminal case against…
A dinghy with migrants, left, with Turkish ships in the background, in the narrow stretch of water between the eastern Greek island of Lesbos and the Turkish coast on April 2, 2021.
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Reject Proposed Legal Changes; Improve Protections for Abuse Victims

(Athens) – A bill to amend child custody provisions in Greece’s civil code disregards risks for domestic violence victims that would put women and children in jeopardy, Human Rights Watch said today. The bill, "Reforms regarding parent-child…
Protest outside the Greek Parliament in Athens on March 27, 2021 against a bill that would introduce compulsory equal joint custody of children in cases of separation or divorce. 
News

People Still Accommodated in Camp’s Contaminated Area

Dozens of families are still accommodated in areas of a migrant camp in Lesbos where soil testing showed elevated lead levels two months after the Greek government confirmed that the areas were contaminated, Human Rights Watch said today. The…
Authorities removing soil
News

Internal Inquiry Only Exposed Tip of the Iceberg

An internal probe looking into allegations that the EU border patrol agency, Frontex, is involved in, among other abuses, pushbacks of asylum seekers and migrants at Greece’s sea border with Turkey, raises questions about its willingness or…
An officer from the European Union’s border protection agency, Frontex, holds the arm of a migrant as they board a ferry in the port of Mytilini, Lesbos island, Greece, on Friday, April 8, 2016.
News
What are the risks of lead poisoning? Who is most at risk? Why is Human Rights Watch concerned about lead contamination at the Mavrovouni migrant camp, on Lesbos? What were the results of the testing? Is the testing that the government…
The area on the hill from where authorities are removing soil
News

Results Highlight Urgent Need for Further Testing, Safety Measures

The Greek government is downplaying the risk of lead poisoning at a migrant camp built in part on top of a former firing range on Lesbos island to justify its own inadequate action, Human Rights Watch said in a question-and-answer document released…
The area on the hill from where authorities are removing soil
News

Inadequate Government Response; Lack of Transparency Put Health at Risk

Update January 28, 2021: On January 27, 2021 the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum’s press office shared by email with media outlets and with Human Rights Watch a 79-page document detailing the results from the soil sample testing conducted in…
child plays next to an earth digger
News

How Ten Years of Advocacy and Incremental Changes Add Up

In Greece, a recent high-profile court ruling and policy change mark momentous human rights victories for migrants and children. On October 7, an Athens court ruled that the country’s far-right xenophobic political party, Golden Dawn, whose members…
A woman sits with her children in Victoria Square in Athens, Greece, awaiting transfer after being evicted from their place of residence, July 20, 2020.
News

Test Soil, Clear Firing Range

(Athens) Thousands of asylum seekers, aid workers, United Nations, and Greek and European Union employees may be at risk of lead poisoning in a new migrant camp that Greek authorities have built on a repurposed military firing range on the island of…
A girl from Syria living in Mavrovouni camp watches the Greek military search for unexploded munitions
News

European Support Needed for Unaccompanied Children

In a huge victory for children’s rights, the Greek government is ending the long-standing practice of detaining unaccompanied migrant children in jail cells. The announcement was made on November 18 by the Migration and Asylum Minister of Greece,…
Unaccompanied children line up for an evening meal at a detention facility run by the Greek police.
News

Border Patrol Agency has a Duty to Protect Human Rights

Mounting evidence suggests the Greek government has been secretly expelling thousands of migrants trying to reach its shores. An EUObserver article published on November 18 also suggests the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) is aware of…
An officer from the European Union’s border protection agency, Frontex, holds the arm of a migrant as they board a ferry in the port of Mytilini, Lesbos island, Greece, on Friday, April 8, 2016.
News

Ensure Independent and Effective Investigation

(Brussels) – The top governing body of the European Union Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) should urgently establish an independent inquiry into allegations of its involvement in unlawful operations to stop migrants from reaching the European…
An officer from the European Union’s border protection agency, Frontex, holds the arm of a migrant as they board a ferry in the port of Mytilini, Lesbos island, Greece, on Friday, April 8, 2016.
News

Historic Conviction Against Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party

In a momentous ruling today, an Athens appeals court found that the far-right neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party was operating as a criminal organization. The court also found that members of the group orchestrated or colluded in the 2013 murder of 34-year-…
Magda Fyssa, the mother of late Greek rap singer Pavlos Fyssas, who was stabbed and killed by a supporter of the extreme right Golden Dawn party in 2013, celebrates immediately after the delivery of the verdict in Athens, October 7, 2020. 
News

Groups Press Parliament to Open Inquiry

(Athens) – Members of Greece’s parliament should urgently establish an inquiry into all allegations of unlawful returns of migrants to Turkey by law enforcement officers and others, 29 human rights and humanitarian aid organizations said in an open…
The Greek Coast Guard has been accused of using rescue equipment - namely inflatable, motorless life rafts - to leave asylum seekers and migrants adrift in open water close to the Turkish sea border. May 25, 2020
News

Μore than 160 Greek and international organizations, academics, and other actors from all over Europe urge the Greek authorities to revoke decision to close dignified alternatives in accommodating refugees οn Lesvos

(Athens) – We, the undersigned, call on the Minister of Migration and Asylum, Notis Mitarakis, and the local authorities of Lesvos to repeal their decision to terminate the operations of PIKPA and Kara Tepe facilities for vulnerable asylum seekers on…
Mural painting welcoming asylum seekers and migrants at PIKPA, a volunteer-run camp on Lesbos island, Greece. Since 2012 thousands of people fleeing war and persecution who have reached the island have found shelter at PIKPA.