Greece will not hold migrants for more than 18 months

A few days after pledging to shut down migrant detention centers following a suicide at one such facility in Amygdaleza, northwest of Athens, government officials said on Tuesday that undocumented immigrants would no longer be detained for more than 18 months.

In a joint statement, Alternate Citizens’ Protection Minister Yiannis Panousis and his Immigration Policy counterpart Tasia Christodoulopoulou said they planned to release all immigrants who have completed six months in one of the country’s detention centers as well as all those in such facilities who belong to “vulnerable” social groups including the elderly, pregnant women and people with serious health problems. They also pointed to a possible change in procedures that would mean that any migrants arrested for illegal entry would be released on the condition that they visit their local police station regularly even though most migrants have no fixed address.

The ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to closing down detention centers such as the widely-criticized Amygdaleza facility, where tensions resurfaced yesterday following upheaval last Friday when a Pakistani detainee hanged himself. According to sources, detainees at the center attempted a large-scale escape yesterday which was averted by police. During the upheaval, migrants torched two of the prefabricated buildings on the grounds but there were no reports of injuries.