Greece: UN body finds Greece did not provide effective remedy to Roma victim of police violence
[Greek version of this press release]
13 August 2008,
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) express great satisfaction with the Views adopted on 24 July 2008 by the United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC) in the Case of Andreas Kalamiotis v. Greece. The related Communication No. 1486/2006 was submitted to the HRC by OMCT and GHM. According to the HRC, Greece violated Article 2 paragraph 3 (right to an effective remedy) read together with Article 7 (prohibition of torture) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights concerning the lack of an effective investigation into the allegations of police brutality against Rom Andreas Kalamiotis, on 14 June 2001, in Aghia Paraskevi (Greater Athens). Greece must provide the victim with an effective remedy and appropriate reparation, as well as take measures to prevent similar violations in the future. The HRC must be informed within six months about the measures taken by Greece to give effect to the HRC Views and their publication in Greek.
The events that led to this decision as well as the arguments put forward by the OMCT and GHM on one hand and the State on the other are well summarized in the Views. On the basis of the arguments of both sides, the HRC then noted that no disciplinary proceedings were ever instituted. The Hellenic Police carried out a preliminary informal investigation without hearing the victim and his witnesses and rejected the Greek Ombudsman’s recommendation for a formal Sworn Administrative Investigation. The criminal investigation was concluded with a decision by a Judicial Council of Misdemeanors of Athens to drop charges, based primarily on the defendant police officer’s arguments as the Roma witnesses never testified. An investigation of a GHM report to the prosecutor on judicial shortcomings in this and other cases started only three-and-a-half years later and were summarily dismissed by two prosecutors without any real investigation.
This is the ninth case of police violence that led the Human Rights Committee (HRC) or the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to find Greece in violation of its obligation to investigate related allegations and/or of actual ill-treatment or death of the victim of police violence. The other eight cases are listed below.
“Greece should, like every other state, address the problem of police violence. Every allegation should be investigated promptly and impartially, perpetrators must be punished and victims awarded compensation, without having to resort to the HRC or the ECtHR” said Eric Sottas, Secretary General of OMCT. “On the other hand, the HRC and the UN Committee against Torture must receive from Greek authorities relevant detailed information on the list of allegations included in the report submitted by OMCT, GHM and other Greek NGOs to both Committees when they reviewed Greece’s record in November 2004 and March 2005. They include the ill-treatment of Andreas Kalamiotis. So far, the two Committees’ related recommendations 22 for HRC and 10 for CAT have remained unanswered” added Eric Sottas (see OMCT et al. report , HRC recommendations and CAT recommendations.
“There is prevailing impunity of police officers committing acts of violence, even after court rulings are issued against them domestically or against Greece internationally,” said Panayote Dimitras, GHM Spokesperson. “Moreover, there are no sanctions against police and judicial officials who carry out investigations found by the HRC, the ECtHR or the Greek Ombudsman to be flawed. Unless this changes, police violence and subsequent cover-up during investigations will continue to be an endemic problem that harms the state of law in Greece” added Panayote Dimitras.
On 28 March 2006, the HRC issued its Views on Communication No. 1070/2002 submitted by Alexandros Kouidis, finding that Greece’s failure, at the level of the Supreme Court, to take account of the author's claims that his confession was given as a result of ill-treatment by police, from 17 May to 27 June 1991, amounted to a violation of article 14, paragraph 3(g).
On the other hand, there are four convictions of Greece by the ECtHR for ill-treatment by police. The first ruling, issued on 13 December 2005, in a case filed by GHM and the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC), concerned the beating of Roma Lazaros Bekos and Eleftherios Koutropoulos on 8 May 1998. The second ruling, issued on 18 January 2007, concerned the beating of Syrian Mhn Ghassan Alsayed Allaham on 8 September 1998. The third ruling, issued on 24 May 2007, in a case filed by GHM, concerned the beating of Dimitris Zelilof on 23 December 2001. The fourth ruling, issued on 6 December 2007, in a case filed by GHM and ERRC, concerned the beating of Romni Fani-Yannula Petropoulou-Tsakiris on 28 January 2002.
There are also three convictions of Greece by the ECtHR for injury or deaths from police shooting. The first ruling, issued on 20 December 2004, concerned the shooting of Christos Makaratzis on 13 September 1995. The second ruling, issued on 21 June 2007, in a case filed by GHM, concerned the shooting and rendering invalid, on 26 January 1998, of Rom Ioannis Karagiannopoulos. The third ruling, issued on 8 July 2007, in a case filed by GHM, concerned the fatal shooting of Albanian Gentjan Celniku on 21 November 2001.