Group slams police crackdown on migrants

The Greek Council of Refugees on Thursday became the latest group — following Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch — to condemn an unprecedented crackdown by the police on undocumented immigrants in central Athens even as Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias insisted that the sweep would continue.

In a press release, the refugee protection group said that operation, code-named Xenios Zeus, was apparently being conducted without any effort to identify refugees meriting protection. The group said it appreciated the country?s right to protect its borders but said that this could not override its obligations under European and international law to respect the rights of refugees seeking political asylum.

It also criticized the country’s failure to effectively process asylum claims submitted to authorities by immigrants. The organization claimed that in some cases police officers made migrants unwittingly sign documents terminating their applications for asylum and thus opening the way for their deportation.

Police continued their crackdown on undocumented immigrants in central Athens on Thursday as Dendias met with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to discuss the situation. According to sources, Dendias presented the premier with a list of military facilities which fulfil the criteria to be transformed into migrant reception centers.

Police, who arrested more than 1,400 migrants in a huge raid over the weekend that involved more than 6,000 people being stopped and searched, have been accused of racism by some rights groups who complain that officers stop people based on their appearance.

In a related development on Thursday, four Indian men were being treated for knife wounds at a hospital in the Cretan prefecture of Rethymno after being attacked by a group of unidentified assailants while they were waiting at a bus stop in the Sfakaki area.