Greek Ombudsman: 308 cases of police abuse registered in 2021

The Greek Ombudsman’s 2021 report released on Thursday notes a total of 308 reported cases of abuse of youth and other vulnerable groups by law enforcement officials based on their national, ethnic or racial origin.

An independent body that also acts as a national case investigation body arbitrary abusenoted that most of these incidents have not been thoroughly investigated. Most disciplinary offenses were recommended to closeand in cases where the Ombudsman recommended additional sanctions, the punishments proposed for police officers were purely symbolic.

As required by law, orders for internal disciplinary investigations following reports of abuse were sent to the Ombudsman by the Greek Police and the Greek Coast Guard, as well as by Frontex and the Council of State, the Ombudsman’s office said.

The report added that the number of public allegations of offensive behavior by security personnel rose by 41% in 2021 compared to the previous year. 62% of all cases concerned physical harm or abuse of personal freedom, and 14% concerned racist motives or discrimination.

In addition, the police mostly abused young people, often underage. In general, compared to 2020, there was a decrease in physical harm or threats to life (-8%, -2% respectively), but an increase in racist or discriminatory behavior (+4%), illegal use of weapons (+3%), torture ( +2%) and insults related to gender orientation (+1%). But most likely this was due to the massive quarantine measures of the coronavirus pandemic, when for more than 8 months, almost the entire population of the country sat at home.

Failure to take these cases to court violates directivesestablished by the European Court of Human Rights, the Ombudsman said.

Finally, the report mentions that in 2021, 21 cases of illegal expulsions (refugees and migrants on ships) were reported to the authorities. In these cases, victims were often not properly interviewed, some photographic or other evidence was lost, and some incidents were presented as having taken place outside Greek territorial waters.

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