Tsipras, Mitsotakis lock horns over on-campus lawlessness

Tsipras, Mitsotakis lock horns over on-campus lawlessness

Main opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday reiterated his party’s pledge to abolish a law making it difficult for police to enter university grounds, saying it is abused by criminals.

“The law on asylum will not just change  – it will be abolished. And universities will have the same protection afforded to any other public space,” he told lawmakers during a debate over lawlessness in Greek universities.

The debate, held during prime minister's question time, focused on a relevant question tabled by Mitsotakis who argued that a report published by an Education Ministry committee essentially presented the eradication of crime as an unattainable goal.

Mitsotakis spoke of criminal gangs which use universities as a base for their activities, drug traffickers and “notorious collectives” which “control many university faculties,” turning them into “a haunt for hooded individuals.”

He accused running SYRIZA of lacking the will to tackle crime and slammed a suggestion by Education Minister Costas Gavroglou that crime in universities can be resolved by a “robust student movement.”

Responding to Mitsotakis, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras cited a report by the University of Macedonia, which he said shows that lawlessness decreased since the current government took over in 2015, noting previous governments had failed to solve the problem.

He then defended the asylum law, saying it does not forbid police from entering university grounds when a crime is being committed – it only requires that university authorities alert police to any incident.

“You are creating a negative image for universities to gain votes,” he retorted.

The increase in on-campus thefts and drug dealing and use on university grounds as well as the occupation of faculty buildings was the subject of a report compiled by an expert committee led by former justice minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos.

The report, presented in September, was criticised by the opposition for not offering realistic solutions to the problem.

In June 2017, the government reinstated the asylum law that the previous conservative administration had revoked.

According to the law, any police intervention would require the approval of the council of rectors.

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