New law increases threat of deportation

An amendment to Greece’s existing legislation, which could be passed through a reduced summer session of Parliament later this week, may lead to foreigners living in the country legally as well as those who are here illegally being deported over misdemeanors even if they are not convicted. With immigration becoming a pressing political issue, the government has embarked on an effort to adopt a series of measures that will stem the flow of illegal migrants arriving on Greek shores. Sources told Kathimerini that the amendment would allow authorities to classify as «dangerous for public order and safety» any foreigner who is charged with committing a crime that carries a prison sentence of three months or more. This means that the person can then be deported to his homeland before even standing trial, as long as that country has signed a bilateral repatriation agreement with Greece. The provisions of the proposed law have prompted a backlash from human rights activists. «It is totally unacceptable in a just state for someone to face devastating consequences before it has been established in a fair trial whether he is guilty and before he has exercised every legal right to defend himself,» said an organization called Greek Action for Human Rights. «It is absurd for foreigners who have been in the country for a long time, including those from the European Union, to face the danger of deportation simply if they are charged with minor infractions,» said the site lawyer Vassilis Chronopoulos, who foresees a backlog of cases building up in the courts.