ECRI welcomes anti-racism law, urges more action

The Council of Europe has commended Greece for a new anti-racism law but warns in a new report that xenophobia, violence against immigrants and discrimination against Roma are persistent problems.

In a report made public on Tuesday, the Council’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) welcomed the enforcement in Greece last year of a much-delayed anti-racism law as well as the appointment of public prosecutors to deal with acts of racist violence and the creation of a special police force to tackle racist attacks.

However, it notes that serious problems remain, expressing concern that “public and political discourse is widely permeated by hate speech against migrants, refugees and asylum seekers” and noting that the activities of neofascist Golden Dawn boosted racism.

“Despite steps forward… problems persist, including worrying levels of xenophobia and violence against refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, and the ongoing segregation of Roma children in some schools, in spite of the European Court of Human Rights’ judgments confirming the need to end this practice,” said ECRI Chair Christian Ahlund.

The ECRI called on Greece to work with NGOs to “develop a comprehensive national strategy to combat racism and intolerance” and to train the judiciary on the enforcement of new laws foreseeing stricter sentences for hate crimes.