High court finds debt law illegal

A section of Greece’s highest administrative court has ruled it unconstitutional to imprison people if they owe the state money, although the decision has been referred to the court’s plenary session, sources said yesterday. The sixth section of the Council of State unanimously adopted a recommendation which suggests that putting state debtors in jail contravenes constitutional rules protecting human dignity and personal freedom. The recommendation refers to articles 2 and 5 of the Constitution, which state that the respect and protection of human dignity are the state’s basic obligation and that personal freedom is inviolable. Thousands of Greeks are thought to be unable to meet debts to the state, mainly for outstanding tax or state social security payments. The court’s decision does not affect other measures that the state can employ to recover debts, such as repossession. However, due to the seriousness of the matter, the case has been referred to the plenary session of the Council of State for a final judgment.