Migrants to join police

Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis yesterday said he was determined to integrate immigrants into the police force following talks with members of the Pakistani community regarding the death of a 25-year-old Pakistani national alleged to have been beaten by officers while in custody earlier this month. Apart from his vow to introduce migrants into the force, a pledge made several times over the past five years by the previous conservative government, Chrysochoidis also heralded the amendment of a law introduced by his predecessor that puts the examination of migrants’ claims for political asylum in the hands of police departments at first instance, and at the discretion of the relevant minister on appeal. Chrysochoidis said this process would now come under the remit of the new Interior Ministry, which no longer deals with public order issues. The legality of the police dealing with asylum claims has been questioned by rights groups and other organizations including the United Nations refugee agency which suspended its participation in processing Greece’s huge backlog of asylum claims in protest at the police’s dominant role in the process. According to Chrysochoidis, the first phase of integrating immigrants into the police force would be for them to act as «mediators» between officers and members of communities with large immigrant populations such as the central Athens district of Aghios Panteleiomonas. According to sources, the second phase would involve the employment of second-generation immigrants as full members of the force. This would require the amendment of a presidential decree which is reportedly in the pipeline. As for 27-year-old Muhammad Kamran Atif, who was found dead at his home in Nikaia, Piraeus, on October 9, just a few days after allegedly suffering a severe beating at the hands of police in a local holding cell, Chrysochoidis said he had asked the Supreme Court to launch an investigation into the incident. «I will not choose to conduct yet another internal investigation as this usually leads to such matters being forgotten and becoming an internal police affair,» the minister was quoted as saying.