Rights abuses ‘common’

Human rights abuses in Greece, mainly by the police, will persist as long as perpetrators can be assured of impunity, two rights watchdogs asserted yesterday, calling for complainants to be given better access to legal aid and medical tests that could support their accusations. «The problem of ill-treatment by police officers is not limited to a few isolated incidents,» Panayote Dimitras, a spokesman for the Greek department of the International Helsinki Federation, told a press conference in Athens. A report by IHF and Amnesty International listed 66 cases of alleged human rights abuses – mainly against immigrants and Gypsies – since the mid-1990s. «Physical and psychological torture or ill-treatment of prisoners by police officers are relatively widespread, either to extract confessions or for intimidation and punishment,» the report said. «Verbal abuse is common and sometimes includes racist insults or sexual threats.» IHF spokesman Bjoern Engesland said human rights offenders generally escaped punishment. «This state of impunity must be immediately ended,» he urged.

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