NEWS

Very few appeals made to Citizens’ Advocate’s Bureau

The Citizens’ Advocate’s Bureau’s report on the first year of the law contains reference to just 20 cases. These are just some of them: – A lawyer who was over the age of 35 was not allowed to register (the lawyers’ code sets an upper age limit). Although the Citizens’ Advocate ruled against the regulation, it was not changed. The issue has now been referred to the Justice Ministry and the Equal Treatment Commission. -A person with a 50 percent disability was hired by the Papageorgiou Hospital as a ward staff member. An application for disability leave was rejected and at the end of his probation period, he was dismissed. – A Roma association could not find housing for one of its members living in the municipality of Larissa. After repeated moves, the person in question lost the Greek state’s guarantee for loans already approved. In one case, the municipality decided to postpone issuing construction permits for reasons of public interest; in another, the mayor suspended issuing permits and construction work in the area in question. – A Greek citizen protested at excessive delays by a municipal service in Ano Liosia in issuing a receipt for property asset tax paid for property she had inherited. She needed the paper for a sales contract in which the buyer was a Roma. – Naturalized ethnic Greeks from the former Soviet Union who applied for the conversion of driving licenses issued in their country of origin to Greek licenses met with the refusal of the Transport Ministry. The ministry invoked a provision that says only those who had acquired Greek citizenship by birth and not by naturalization were entitled to this privilege. – An Albanian citizen protested at being refused a student grant and scholarship from the State Scholarship Foundation because he was not of Greek origin. Greek legislation does not recognize these rights for foreign students from third countries. The only discrimination allowed by European law is that based on citizenship. But in Greece’s case, according to Andreas Takis, «the number of state grants and services that are dependent on citizenship are too numerous. It is very easy to see where this mentality comes from if one looks at Greece’s history. Many professions, such as that of a butcher, require a permit that demands Greek citizenship. However, this restriction has gradually been forgotten, as in other cases, when there have been no existing political reasons for its existence. «So one wonders why it should continue to be in force for someone who has been living in Greece for many years and is a long-term resident. So there is no apparent reason, as with the Albanian applying for a scholarship, to prefer only those with Greek citizenship. I believe that this is a major issue that should be dealt with at European level.»