In Dialogue with Greece, Experts of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances Ask about Detention and Disappearances of Migrants and Asylum Seekers, including Unaccompanied Minors
The Committee on Enforced Disappearances today concluded its consideration of the initial report of Greece on how it implements the provisions of the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, with Committee Experts asking about detention and disappearance of migrants and asylum seekers, including unaccompanied minors.
A Committee Expert asked for information and statistics on efforts to locate and identify disappeared migrants, and mechanisms for collecting, storing and using DNA samples from the family members of missing migrants. Another Committee Expert asked when searches for missing migrants started? Was there a database on missing migrants? Another Committee Expert commended the efforts of the police and Coast Guard to protect the lives of migrants and refugees, but noted that the Committee was concerned about practices that might contribute to or fulfil the offense of enforced disappearance, such as mobile phones being broken or throw away. Which precautions had been put in place to ensure that such actions were prohibited and sanctioned? A Committee Expert asked the delegation to clarify asylum seekers’ access to appeals against refoulement decisions. How was the risk of being subjected to enforced disappearance incorporated in the assessment prior to removal decisions? Another Committee Expert asked what specific measures had been taken to protect unaccompanied or separated migrant children from enforced disappearance?
Panos Alexandris, Secretary General for Justice and Human Rights, and head of the delegation, said in opening remarks that the Convention was ratified by Greece in 2014 and entered into force on August 8, 2015. Since the 2015 Syrian refugee crisis, Greece had received unprecedented numbers of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, including children. The State deplored the fact that many lives were lost, including children’s lives, due to the inhumane activities of smugglers and their facilitation networks. The State had made tangible progress in improving reception conditions, increasing relocation schemes and transfers to the mainland, and accelerating asylum procedures. Border protection was being exercised in full respect of human rights, and allegations regarding violations of the principle of non-refoulement did not correspond to the operational activities implemented by the police and the Coast Guard. Special provisions in place for the protection of minors included the “Amber Alert” mechanism. The State had also developed and implemented a “National Strategy for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors.”
In the ensuing discussion, the delegation explained that there were different databases operated by different State agencies related to migration, including a database on illegal migration, a database of personal data of asylum applicants, and a database of criminal records. The State was in the process of linking data between the databases, and was in the process of creating a database of unaccompanied minors and migrant families. The number of 11,500 detainees did not include migrants. It only included persons who had committed a crime. Asylum processes had been accelerated through electronic registration and remote interviews. Rejected applicants had the right to appeal. Waiting times for assessment had been halved between 2020 and 2021. The asylum service conducted regular quality checks of interviews to comply with international standards.
In concluding remarks, Mr. Alexandris thanked the Committee for its questions, and for the constructive dialogue. The dialogue had been a challenging but very useful exercise that would inform the State’s future work.
Committee Expert Horacio Ravenna, in concluding remarks, thanked the Greek delegation for its participation in the constructive dialogue. The Committee counted on Greece to implement its recommendations, and in turn the delegation could count on the Committee to provide support. Greece was the cradle of art, philosophy and democracy. The Committee continued to work with States such as Greece to protect victims, and respect freedoms.
The delegation of Greece was comprised of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Ministry of Citizen Protection; the Ministry of National Defence; the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs; the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Migration and Asylum; the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy; and the Permanent Mission of Greece to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
All documents related to the twenty-second session of the Committee can be found here. Meeting summaries of its public meetings can be found here. The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed at http://webtv.un.org/
The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 29 March, to begin its consideration of the first report of Niger under article 29 (1) of the Convention (CED/C/NER/1).
The Committee has before it the initial report of Greece (CED/C/GRC/1).
Presentation of the Report
PANOS ALEXANDRIS, Secretary General for Justice and Human Rights of Greece, and head of the delegation, said that the Greek delegation was looking forward to deliberations in an open and forthright manner, which would promote the shared goal of proper enforcement of the Convention. No allegations of enforced disappearance had, so far, been submitted to the competent Greek authorities, but the State party continued to attribute great importance to the Convention’s protective content. The State party’s report had been drafted by the Legal Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the comments of forty-two non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders active in the field of human rights protection had been taken into consideration.
The Convention was ratified by Greece in 2014 and entered into force on August 8, 2015. The Law ratifying the Convention amended the Greek Criminal Code accordingly, as well as the Civil Code provisions on adoption. The amendments had strengthened consistency and efficiency of protections against enforced disappearances. The new legislation rendered the crime of enforced disappearance punishable in all its forms by grave penalties. It also provided for an aggravated form of the crime of enforced disappearance when committed against certain categories of vulnerable persons, and contained provisions on the responsibility of a person superior in the chain of command for certain acts or omissions. The new legal provision did justice to the object and purpose of the Convention, and confirmed the absolute right of any person not to be subjected to enforced disappearance. All Greek citizens also had the right to report incidents of enforced disappearances to the competent judicial and law enforcement authorities, as well as to the Greek Ombudsman. That right had not been affected by COVID-19 pandemic prevention measures.
Since the 2015 Syrian refugee crisis, Greece had received unprecedented numbers of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, including children. The State deplored the fact that many lives were lost, including children’s lives, due to the inhumane activities of smugglers and their facilitation networks. The State had made tangible progress in improving reception conditions, increasing relocation schemes and transfers to the mainland, and accelerating asylum procedures. Border protection was being exercised in full respect of human rights, and allegations regarding violations of the principle of non-refoulement did not correspond to the operational activities implemented by the police and the Coast Guard. Special provisions in place for the protection of minors included the “Amber Alert” mechanism. The State had also developed and implemented a “National Strategy for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors.”
The fight against human trafficking remained a top priority for Greece. The Greek National Referral Mechanism had been launched in 2019 to operate as a hub for coordinating preventative measures. The Office of the National Rapporteur had also drafted a National Action Plan (2019-2023) for the prevention and combating of trafficking in human beings and the protection and rehabilitation of victims, incorporating a wide range of relevant policy-making projects. Greece fully protected the rights of detainees, and a number of safeguards existed to prevent any instance of enforced disappearances. Foreign nationals in detention had the right to challenge that measure in deportation cases at any point during detention. The Greek Ombudsman, which was the National Preventive Mechanism under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, conducted on-site inspections of places of deprivation of liberty.
Hellenic Armed Forces, and especially the military law enforcement personnel, received appropriate training on issues concerning the Convention, as did judicial officers. Particular attention was given to issues pertaining to victims’ rights. There were also provisions of Greek law which allowed child-victims of enforced disappearances to challenge adoption procedures.
Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert began by asking whether the State party would consider taking action to recognise the competence of the Committee to receive and consider individual and inter-State communications? The Expert noted that the Committee had not yet received statistical information on complaints filed about the conducts defined in Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention on any form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State, or related, followed by concealment of the whereabouts of the disappeared person. There was a Police Directorate on Missing Persons; did those police records have disaggregated information or data that could be shared?
The State also had various databases to collect information in cases of unaccompanied children. Could those records allow the State party to produce statistics to respond to the Committee's request for data on disappeared persons? Were there only records of missing children? On the definition and criminalisation of enforced disappearance, the Committee Expert said that State legislation amendments changed enforced disappearance from a “specific and independent" crime to a modality of the crime of kidnapping. Why had that change been made? The legislation also defined enforced disappearance as “depriving the person of the protection of the State,” not as action “that places the person outside the protection of the law.” What was the State’s understanding of the terminology used, and reasoning for changing that terminology?
The Expert also stated that Article 8 (1) of Law 3948/2011, which criminalised enforced disappearance as a crime against humanity, was not fully in line with the definition contained in Article 2 of the Convention. Did the State party plan to bring the crime of enforced disappearance in line with the definition contained in Article 2 of the Convention? The legislation, the Expert said, punished superiors who ordered enforced disappearances when incidents had been committed or attempted to be committed. When was the crime of enforced disappearance considered consummated or attempted? Did giving an order to commit enforced disappearance entail the application of a criminal sanction for the superior? What would be the penalty in such cases? Further, the Committee Expert noted that legislation did not punish perpetrators who did not complete the crime of their own free will. The Expert asked the State party to explain the reasoning for that, recalling that the Convention established attempted enforced disappearance as punishable conduct.
The Expert also asked the State party to clarify what was the maximum penalty that would be imposed for the most serious enforced disappearance crimes. Was there a maximum and minimum threshold, and under which article of the Criminal Code was it established? What would be the most severe penalty if the enforced disappearance was committed in complicity? Were there plans to include other mitigating circumstances in the legislation, as specified in article 7.2 of the Convention?
Another Committee Expert asked whether the statute of limitation for enforced disappearance commenced from the date when the offence had been committed or from the date when the disappeared person had been found dead or alive. How did the 15-year statute of limitations address the seriousness of enforced disappearance? How did the State party guarantee that no statute of limitations applied for criminal, civil or administrative actions brought by victims of enforced disappearance seeking the right to an effective remedy?
Article 7 of the Criminal Code stated that if a foreign national committed enforced disappearance against a Greek national outside Greece, they were punishable under Greek law. Was the State party able to prosecute an alleged non-Greek offender who had enforced the disappearance of a non-Greek citizen? The Expert asked for examples of cases where the State party would exercise jurisdiction over the crime of enforced disappearance when there was no lawful State authority. Were there plans to prevent military authorities from investigating and/or prosecuting persons accused of enforced disappearance?
Had the State party received any allegations of enforced disappearance since the submission of the report, the Expert asked? The Committee had received a number of allegations of secret detention preceding a pushback of migrants.
The Expert asked for more information and statistics on efforts to locate and identify disappeared migrants, and mechanisms for collecting, storing and using DNA samples from the family members of missing migrants. The Expert also asked for information regarding measures adopted and implemented to address concerns about the prosecution of the human rights activists. Was there a law that criminalised non-governmental organization activism? Further, the Expert asked for information on the organizational unit of the police responsible for investigating enforced disappearance, and its budget. Did the police have the same right to conduct unannounced visits to places of deprivation of liberty as the military? Were police and Coast Guard officials immediately excluded from investigations when suspected of having been involved in the enforced disappearance? What was the role of the Ombudsman in investigations?
Regarding bilateral legal assistance, the Expert asked for examples of cases where assistance has been requested from Greece and where Greece had requested assistance. The Expert also asked for information on investigations of disappearances of migrants where mutual legal assistance was used. What mutual assistance was provided with other States in helping victims, in searching for, locating and releasing disappeared persons, and in identifying and returning the remains in case of death?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation explained that the State party attached importance to improving legislation, and was greatly interested in discussions related to improving the Treaty Bodies procedures. It asked the Committee to provide more information on how to interpret and implement the Convention. It was Law 4268 which had ratified the Convention, implementing it into the Greek Criminal Code. Greek national legislation fully conformed with the Convention. Enforced disappearance was incorporated under the general title of abduction in Article 322 to increase the coherence of the law, and to give the offense the same weight as other forms of abduction.
The phrase “to deprive a person of the protection of the State” was chosen to prevent wider interpretations regarding the intentions of the perpetrator. If the offense was not completed as defined in the legislation, the offense was deemed to be an attempted enforced disappearance. Article 322 applied to whoever committed the offense. If the offense was committed by three or more persons, harsher penalties were enacted. Greek legislation considered enforced disappearance to be a crime against humanity. The offense was punishable by imprisonment for five to 15 years, and 10 to 15 years for an offense by a superior. An officer who committed the offence would be stripped of their position. The Greek Penal Code stipulated general provisions for all crimes, including enforced disappearance. Accomplices to the perpetrators to the crime faced one to eight years imprisonment, and the same period of imprisonment as the perpetrator if they were actively involved in the crime.
Article 332 also applied when enforced disappearance was committed by a Greek citizen in a foreign country. Further, it applied when a foreign national committed the crime against a Greek citizen in a foreign State, provided that the act was also illegal in the foreign country, or in a stateless region. Every agent of the State was obliged to report incidences of enforced disappearance to the public prosecutor. In the event that the authorities refused to investigate, the agency was able to submit a complaint to the State. Under Greek law, victims had full access to case files. A person who had suffered harm or been deprived of their liberty could make a claim to receive compensation.
The allegations against the Hellenic Coast Guard were unfounded. The Coast Guard saved thousands of lives, and was closely cooperating with European States. It had incorporated human rights principles into its training programmes. The Coast Guard was subject to monitoring from two independent authorities. It ensured that people in distress received support. Non-governmental organizations had illegally obstructed the work of the Coast Guard. Rescue operations were carried out on a 24/7 basis, in accordance with international legislation. The Coast Guard cooperated with all relevant State bodies and the private sector. Searches were carried out for up to 72 hours for missing persons, and information uncovered was forwarded to the police. Training of Coast Guard personnel and searches were carried out in cooperation with non-governmental organizations. Three State agencies supporting unaccompanied minors and their guardians had been established. A database of unaccompanied minors had been established. A national emergency response mechanism had also been established to protect unaccompanied minors. A telephone line for reporting incidents had been established, as had two mobile units for rescuing and providing support to such children.
Follow-Up Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert thanked the delegation for providing clarification regarding legislation. The important issue was for States to be open to inter-State communications. The Expert asked for more information on specific cases of enforced disappearance of both minors and adults by non-State actors.
A sentence of between five and 15 years was not clear and open to interpretation. In what cases was the most serious punishment of a life sentence applicable? What was the minimum penalty for enforced disappearance? What protections were available to ensure due process? There was a whole range of possible perpetrators of enforced disappearance, and the legislation needed to accommodate for that range.
Another Committee Expert asked for clarification regarding when the statute of limitation commenced. When did searches for missing migrants start? Was there a database on missing migrants? What was the difference regarding reporting of missing persons and enforced disappearances?
Another Committee Expert commended the efforts of the police and Coast Guard to protect the lives of migrants and refugees, but noted that the Committee was concerned about practices that might contribute to or fulfil the offense of enforced disappearance, such as mobile phones being broken or throw away. Which precautions had been put in place to ensure that such actions were prohibited and sanctioned?
Another Committee Expert asked what illegal activity non-governmental organizations had carried out that interfered with the Coast Guard’s work.
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation stated that there was a protocol of action regarding the investigation of missing children called “Amber Alert.” If the child was suspected to have left the country, an International Criminal Police Organization warning was issued. Children were registered as soon as they arrived in reception centres, and their stay in State-sponsored facilities was limited to the shortest time possible.
The military code did not have a separate provision regarding enforced disappearances, and military personnel were subject to the relevant legislation in the Criminal Code. There were no provisions to exclude military courts in ruling on cases of enforced disappearance, but military courts did not oversee enforced disappearance cases. The military had no authority to enter private premises and detain civilians.
Search and rescue operations commenced the moment that the incident took place, and the Hellenic Coast Guard’s priority was to save lives. Non-governmental organizations were not allowed to be involved in search and rescue operations, which was a task for the professionals in the Coast Guard.
According to Article 147 of the Criminal Code, all parties were able to obtain information on criminal cases before the beginning of court proceedings. Life sentences were issued for the offense of murder only.
Greek national legislation fully conformed with the Convention. The incorporation of enforced disappearance under the general title of abduction had been done for legal clarity, but it remained a different offense from general abduction.
Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert noted that the European Union directives on procedures for the international protection status of asylum seekers had been transposed into Greek law. The Expert also noted the State’s comments that its Coast Guard acted in accordance with the Schengen Borders Code and its provisions to prevent unauthorised crossing, while fully respecting all persons’ rights. However, the Committee had received troubling information indicating a lack of compliance with the principle ofnon-refoulement. There had been several reports of refoulement—returning an asylum-seeker to a country or territory where he or she was likely to face persecution—sometimes in a violent way, and reports of collective expulsions to Turkey across the river Evros and the Aegean Sea. The Greek authorities had failed to carry out the necessary prior individual assessment to verify the risk of a person being subjected to enforced disappearance. In addition, there had been reports of asylum seekers and refugees returned to Turkey who had allegedly been victims of enforced disappearance there.
Regarding asylum seekers, there had been allegations of manifest refusals to accept or examine asylum applications at the border, a lack of information provided by State authorities to new arrivals about asylum procedures and time limits, and a lack of access to legal assistance in immigration detention centres. There were also allegations regarding a lack of independence and impartiality of the Appeals Committee. Further, access to asylum applications had been suspended from March 1, 2020 until May 18, 2020. What law was applicable regarding the asylum procedure? The Expert asked the delegation to clarify asylum seekers’ access to appeals against refoulement decisions. What were the stages and deadlines for appeals before both the Independent Appeals Committee and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal? How was the risk of being subjected to enforced disappearance incorporated in the assessment prior to removal decisions? Had an independent national mechanism for monitoring border procedures and conducting risk assessments been established?
What was the applicable legislation ensuring that any person with a legitimate interest, including those other than persons deprived of liberty, might appeal to a court to decide on the lawfulness of a detention? What action had been taken on complaints of immigrants being held in immigration detention centres without a detention order? The Committee had received information about the widespread use of detention, both in secret locations and incommunicado. People had been detained for hours, two days and even a week without their knowledge of the place where they were being held and without any record of entry. Some migrants and refugees were detained in makeshift locations, such as abandoned buildings, stables and even abandoned train stations, and held by persons carrying weapons. On many occasions, police officers had destroyed the cell phones of detainees, preventing location of the detention facility and detainees’ communication with relatives. Was there an express law prohibiting secret detention? What actions had been taken in response to complaints about migrants detained in unofficial places of detention on the border with Turkey?
Another Committee Expert asked the delegation to provide information on the definition of “victim” in national legislation and explain how it conformed to the definition contained in article 24 (1) of the Convention. Could victims receive support from victim services without needing to initiate criminal proceedings?
How did the State guarantee the right of victims to know the truth? What were the rules and procedures in place for victims of enforced disappearance to obtain reparation and compensation? What was the type of compensation and reparation provided to victims? Was a victim of enforced disappearance entitled to submit a compensation claim in criminal proceedings instead of initiating an additional civil proceeding? What kind of damage could be claimed by a compensation claim? Did State legislation allow for compensation for family members of a victim of enforced disappearance even when the person involved did not die? Was a conviction necessary to file a compensation claim? What kinds of reparation, beyond compensation, were available for victims?
What specific measures had been taken to protect unaccompanied or separated migrant children from enforced disappearance? How many minors had been referred to accommodation structures? How many of those minors had been adopted? How many had been reunited with their families? The Expert also asked for information about the timeframe and resources allocated to protecting minors from third countries and stateless minors, and about investigations into the whereabouts of migrant children who had gone missing from hot-spots.
The delegation had informed the Committee that there were no official complaints referring to the disappearance of reportedly around 3,000 children illegally adopted in Greece between 1930 and 1970 and allegedly taken to the United States and the Netherlands. Had the public prosecution service taken any action to investigate allegations of such incidents?
Responses by the Delegation
Allegations of pushbacks on the border with Turkey had been raised by non-governmental organizations. Allegations cited violence from both State officials and persons involved. Special police units conducted border patrols to ensure border security. Human rights were protected by border control officers. The police organized training activities regarding human rights with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Allegations of violations of human rights were duly investigated by the Greek Ombudsman. Greece took all necessary measures to protect its borders while respecting human rights. Secret detention facilities did not exist. All persons detained needed to be brought in front of a prosecutor within 24 hours. Access to legal support and medical care was available to persons accommodated in detention facilities.
Each complaint related to refoulement was assessed without delay. The Coast Guard was subject to monitoring from the Greek Ombudsman. Data on missing persons, including photos and information from hospitals, was collected by the police and passed to the national database on missing persons. Police conducted investigations regardless of nationality in cooperation with international organizations. No person could be detained without being registered in an official register of detainees. The register included information on the person’s name, location, state of health, and dates and times of release, transfer or death. To limit the spread of COVID-19, special spaces had been created to allow for virtual visits to detainees. Asylum processes had been accelerated through electronic registration and remote interviews. Rejected applicants had the right to appeal. Waiting times for assessment had been halved between 2020 and 2021. The asylum service conducted regular quality checks of interviews to comply with international standards.
The practice of providing unaccompanied minors with protective custody in police detention centres was abolished in December 2020. The State, together with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other international organizations, had established the national emergency response mechanism for unaccompanied minors in April 2021. Children were promptly registered by Greek authorities and provided with emergency accommodation. There were 160 accommodation facilities available, and those provided children with necessary support. There was also a 24/7 helpline run by child protection experts with interpretation support, and mobile units providing support directly to children in need.
Anyone could request the authorities to provide copies of documents related to criminal proceedings. During investigations of an alleged perpetrator, the investigating judge could impose an order preventing the alleged perpetrator from leaving the country and determine a period of pre-trial detention. The alleged perpetrator could access legal assistance. Secret detentions were illegal. If no criminal proceedings had been instituted, any person—including victims and victims’ families—had the right to obtain copies of documents from case files. Victims of enforced disappearance had access to case files during proceedings. Victims had the right to know the truth by having full access to their case files.
Victims of enforced disappearance could institute claims against perpetrators or the Greek State. If found to have suffered moral or other harm or to have been deprived of liberty, the victim or victim’s family was entitled to compensation. In cases where minors were victims of enforced disappearance, the crime was considered to be aggravated, and the maximum penalty was imposed. The limitation period commenced when the victim regained their liberty, or when the victim was found dead. Victims were considered as such without the need to initiate criminal proceedings. The time limit for an appeal against an adoption decision was one year, yet there had been no such appeals since 2002. The 2018 law on adoption and foster care had established a platform for applying for foster case. Tools such as early childhood intervention and foster care were being implemented with the goal of reducing institutionalisations.
Follow-Up Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert called for more information regarding migrant children who were reported missing in so-called “migration hot-spots.”
Another Committee Expert asked which law specifically prohibited secret detention. What were the independent organizations overseeing immigration hot-spots? What were the existing mechanisms in places of detention to submit complaints to the Ombudsman? What had the follow-up been on the Ombudsman’s reports? What were the official numbers of people being held in detention in immigration hot-spots, and in psychiatric institutions? Could stakeholders request information? What penalties were in place for failing to provide information? What mechanisms were in place to determine when an individual should be freed? The delegation had stated that interpretation was available for all detainees, but the Committee had information that not all detainees had access to interpretation. Were there sufficient numbers of interpreters available for detainees? Was training in preventing and prohibiting enforced disappearance being carried out for Coast Guards, Police Offices and judicial officials?
Another Committee Expert noted that during the 1970s, there had been reports of enforced disappearance committed by the police. Had such incidents been investigated? Did the State party recognise a “safe” third-party State to which it sent asylum seekers? Did asylum seekers have the right to appeal transfer decisions?
Responses by the Delegation
Before implementing a return decision, any requests needed to be carefully examined, the delegation explained. No foreign national was returned without being provided with the opportunity for appeal. The Ombudsman supervised the process. Each year, the police were provided with training courses on human rights.
The State took every measure to prevent children from going missing. Services were provided to minors at border points. Programmes on employability were run by non-governmental organizations, and the capacity of accommodation facilities had been increased. Around 2,800 minors lived in such facilities. In cases where there was a suspicion of trafficking, investigations were carried out by State authorities. Minors’ stay in reception facilities was limited to the shortest time possible. A national plan on supporting unaccompanied minors had been drafted and was open for public consultation.
Victims of enforced disappearance had the right to appoint up to two counsellors in the pre-trial phase and three in the trial phase, and the State covered all fees. Greek laws applied both to Greek and foreign citizens regarding criminal actions committed against Greek citizens in foreign countries. That gave the Greek authorities the ability to judge cases of enforced disappearance. If competent authorities jad committed an offence, they were subject to penalties of between 10 days and two years’ imprisonment. Only the police had the right to imprison a person. The Criminal Court provided information about the location of detained persons to relatives. Investigations continued even after victims were found dead.
The delegation stated that there were 11,500 detainees, and statistics on information such as crimes committed could be obtained upon request. The State provided full access to documentation for the Ombudsman during inspections and investigations. Penitentiary officials received appropriate training in all aspects of international law. Regarding allegations of enforced disappearance occurring between 1930 and 1970, State records showed that all adoptions were judicial decisions, and adoptive parents were recognised by the Court. The Ministry of Labour had assisted any adopted person who wanted to discover their roots throughout that procedure. The armed forces received appropriate training in dealing with enforced disappearance. International criminal law was considered an appropriate means of addressing the issue. Training seminars were aimed at all personnel and were compulsory in some cases.
Follow-Up Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert welcomed that there was legislation on the detention of foreign nationals. How did the State ensure access to a lawyer for foreign nationals, and contact with the foreign national’s family? The Expert asked for records of detainees, asking who was responsible for ensuring that records were correct and up to date?
Another Committee Expert asked whether there was a network of victim support services, and asked who was in charge of providing victim support. To what extent were support services available to family members of missing migrants?
Another Committee Expert asked whether the 11,500 people detained included migrants? Where were migrants held? Had the detained migrants been alleged to have committed any crimes? Had the rights of persons who had been deprived of their liberty been upheld? There had been reports that access to free legal aid had not always been provided.
Another Committee Expert said that there was a discrepancy between reports of pushbacks and treatment of migrant children and the State party’s statements. Did the office of the Ombudsman have the necessary resources to perform its role effectively? What were the reasons for the discrepancy?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation stated that there were different databases operated by different State agencies related to migration, including a database on illegal migration, a database of personal data of asylum applicants, and a database of criminal records. The State was in the process of linking data between the databases, and was in the process of creating a database of unaccompanied minors and migrant families.
The number of 11,500 detainees did not include migrants. It only included persons who had committed a crime.
Once investigations commenced, investigating judges and the public prosecutor were obliged to inform the victim about all their rights. There were also provisions ensuring that the State provide support services free of change, including the appointment of counsel.
PANOS ALEXANDRIS, Secretary General for Justice and Human Rights of Greece and head of the delegation, thanked the Committee for its questions, and for the constructive dialogue. The dialogue had been a challenging but very useful exercise that would inform the State’s future work. The Greek State was obliged to adhere to the Convention and the rule of law. Greece was a vivid and modern democracy, and the State was taking steps to harmonise its legislation with all existing international obligations. The delegation was looking forward to receiving the Committee’s recommendations, and would provide the Committee with follow-up information in due time. In closing, he thanked the delegation for its efforts during the dialogue, and for future efforts to implement the Convention. Greece would continue to work to support human rights.
HORACIO RAVENNA, Committee Expert, thanked the Greek delegation for its participation in the constructive dialogue. After receiving additional responses in writing, the Committee would prepare concluding observations and recommendations. Exchanges with the delegation were an opportunity for cooperation. The Committee counted on Greece to implement its recommendations, and in turn the delegation could count on the Committee to provide support. The world was suffering as a result of a war that sought to be against the so-called “negative values of the West”. For two days, however, the Committee had engaged in a fruitful dialogue with a State that had inherited the essential values of Western culture. Greece was the cradle of art, philosophy and democracy. The Committee continued to work with States such as Greece to protect victims, and respect freedoms.
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