Europe rights body slams Greek detention conditions

Europe’s leading human rights body slammed conditions in Greek prisons and migrant detention centers Thursday, saying no improvements have been made despite recommendations made two years ago.

The report was based on visits in April 2013 to 25 border and police stations, seven prisons and eight immigration and coast guard detention facilities by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, or CPT.

The CPT also released the Greek government’s response to its reproach, in which authorities detail measures being taken to tackle the problems and reject criticism about understaffing in penitentiaries.

The CPT noted increasing mistreatment of suspects by police during the arrest procedure, chronic overcrowding in prisons and migrant detention centers and a severe staffing shortage of prison guards.

The Associated Press revealed the dire conditions of Greek prisons in a December 2013 report.

In its previous visit to Greece, the CPT said it had “expressed its serious concern” over the same issues.

“The findings of the 2013 visit demonstrate clearly that the situation … remains dire,” the report says.

It noted most penitentiaries were at double or triple capacity, with inmates sharing beds or sleeping on mattresses on the floor. In the men’s section of the country’s largest prison, Korydallos, there were two prison officers on staff for a wing of 400 inmates during the day.

With prisons beyond capacity, hundreds of suspects in remand or newly convicted are held for months in police stations, where cells “are all totally unsuitable” to house people for more than 24 hours.

CPT described one such cell of 12 square meters (130 square feet) that held eight people, with detainees sleeping sitting on a chair, a table or on cardboard on the floor.

Conditions are also dire for migrants caught entering the country illegally. The report said that in one station, “two or more women were held for months in a dark, moldy and dilapidated basement cell of a mere 5 square meters (54 square feet) with no access to outdoor exercise or hygiene products.” [AP]

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