Amnesty International urges Greek officials to investigate police chief’s alleged call targeting migrants

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has urged Greek authorities to launch an investigation into alleged comments made by the Greece’s Chief of Police, Nikolaos Papagianopoulos, that undocumented immigrants must be detained for as long as possible “to make their lives unbearable.”

The instructions, quoted in Hot Doc magazine, were reportedly made during a meeting of police officials.

“If they told me I could go to a country… and would be detained for three months and then would be free to steal and rob, to do whatever you want… that is great,” a man identified as Nikos Papayiannopoulos is quoted as saying

“We aimed for increased periods of detention… we increased it to eighteen months… for what purpose? We must make their lives unbearable… ”

The magazine has also made available an audio file of the comments.

“If accurate, the deeply shocking statements attributed… to the Greek Chief of Police would expose a willful disregard for the rights and welfare of refugees and migrants seeking shelter and opportunity in the European Union,” John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia, said in a press release.

“The Greek authorities must establish whether these remarks were made and take appropriate action to ensure that Greek law enforcement officials uphold the law and protect the rights migrants,” Dalhuisen said.

“In a context where the Greek police has come under increasing scrutiny for alleged ties to the far right party Golden Dawn, these reported remarks from Greece’s most senior law enforcement official cannot be swept under carpet,” he said.

According to an Amnesty International report published last week, Greek police and coast guard officers are systematically ill-treating would-be refugees from Syria. The report documents firsthand accounts of pushbacks after violent beatings and confiscations of personal belongings without any due process.

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