NEWS

University asylum law up for debate

Parliament is due to debate on Tuesday a motion put forward by some of the opposition parties for the university asylum law, which prevents police from entering campuses in most cases, to be repealed.

The conservative opposition New Democracy, nationalist Popular Orthdodox Rally (LAOS) and the centrist Democratic Alliance all called last week for the law, first implemented in the early 1980s, to be withdrawn.

Their demands came after more than 230 immigrants and their supporters took over Athens University?s Law School to stage a protest there. The migrants have since been moved to another building but the debate about the asylum rule continues.

In its proposal, ND argues that the usefulness of the law, introduced 29 years ago as a way of safeguarding the freedom of speech and thought on university campuses in the wake of the fall of the military junta, is now in doubt.

?History shows us that university asylum does not ensure academic freedom, the free dissemination of ideas and unbiased education and research,? claim the conservatives. ?Instead, it creates an island that allows people to engage in all kinds of illegal activity and which is vulnerable to those who are not members of the academic community making their own interventions.?

The government, however, has indicated that it is not willing to withdraw the law. Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis said there is ?no question? of the law, which was introduced by a PASOK government, being repealed.

Sources told Sunday?s Kathimerini that although past opinion polls have shown that a majority of Greeks are in favor of the asylum law being scrapped, Prime Minister George Papandreou is against taking such drastic action.

He is apparently in favor of making changes to the legislation so that it becomes easier for authorities to enter university grounds when there are serious reasons.

Government sources are aware that New Democracy in particular will try to outmaneuver PASOK on this issue but Papandreou is expected to remain firm.