UN body ruling: Greece failed to provide effective remedy to Roma for ill-treatment and discrimination

Press release

UN body ruling:

Greece failed to provide effective remedy to Roma forill-treatment and discrimination

Athens-Geneva, 20 August2012. The UN Human Rights Committee held inthe case Katsaris v. Greece (Communication No. 1558/2007)[1],submittedjointly by the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) and the World Organisation AgainstTorture (OMCT), that Greece failed to investigate a claim of ill-treatment anddiscrimination against a Greek Roma.

This ruling on a case of physicalabuse and discriminatory practices against a member of its Roma communityexposes the emblematic failure of remedies to victims of such violence inGreece”, stated Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General, and PanayoteDimitras, Spokesperson of Greek Helsinki Monitor in a joint comment to thedecision.

We call on the authorities tocomply with the ruling, especially by proceeding with a complete and impartialinvestigation into the acts of ill-treatment and discrimination, and byproviding the victim with an adequate compensation”, they added. Moreover,in accordance with the Committee’s Views, OMCT and GHM recall the Greekauthorities’ responsibility to take concrete measures to ensure that similar violationsare prevented from occurring in the future.

In this regard, both organizations remain preoccupied that both the EuropeanCourt of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee have found Greece in violationof torture-related fundamental human rights in 14 cases, 10 of which weresubmitted by GHM. Yet, so far none of the decisions rendered has been fully implemented.One of these cases is Kalamiotis v.Greece, also jointly submitted with OMCT, in which the Human Rights Committeehas found that the Greece has violated the ICCPR by failing to effectivelyinvestigate allegations of police brutality.[2] However, up until thisdate the victim has not received any form of remedy or compensation.

These cases are part of a wider problem of violence and failinginvestigations and remedies as recently highlighted in proceedings before theUN Committee Against Torture (CAT). OMCT and GHM, in cooperation with MinorityRights Group - Greece (MRG-G) and the Coordinated Organizations and Communitiesfor Roma Human Rights in Greece (SOKADRE), had jointly submitted an alternativereport to the UN Committee Against Torture, as well as an update of suchreport, that reveal the impunity that essentially exists for those responsiblefor committing acts of torture and ill-treatment. Moreover, these reports showthat Roma people are discriminated against on a large scale, and that policeofficers use excessive violence against them.[3]

Concerned by the limited number of prosecutions, convictions andsanctions following allegations of torture, the Committee Against Torture (CAT),in its concluding observations issued in May 2012, has urged Greece to “undertake prompt, impartial and effectiveinvestigations into all allegations of torture, ill-treatment or excessive useof force… [and]…duly bring to trial alleged perpetrators of acts of torture orill-treatment and, if they are found guilty, punish them with appropriatepenalties which take into account the grave nature of their acts.”Additionally, CAT recommended that Greece “shouldwithout exception and as a matter of urgency offer prompt redress to victims ofviolence which has been determined by international supervisory organs andcourts, such this Committee and the Human Rights Committee, as well as theEuropean Court of Human Rights.” [4]

In light of these repeated international holdings, OMCT and GHM callupon the Greece to undertake a comprehensive and transparent stocktaking toreview its compliance with CAT’s general recommendations and the HRC’s specificviews so as to ensure a full and effective implementation of the Committee’sdecision in Katsaris v. Greece and,more generally, to ensure that the international standards on the protection offundamental human rights are respected throughout the country.

The financial crisis presentlyaffecting the country cannot be an excuse for the non-implementation of internationalhuman rights decisions. To the contrary, protection against non-discriminationand effective remedies are particularly vital to prevent violence in anincreasingly charged social environment’, noted Gerald Staberock andPanayote Dimitras.

OMCT and GHM will closely follow the implementation of the decision bythe Greek authorities and will work together to reinforce the respect of theprohibition of torture and other forms of ill-treatment in Greece.

For more information, please contact:

Panayote Dimitras, GHM: +306932746619

Gerald Staberock, OMCT: +41 22 809 49 39


In its 105th session, the Human Rights Committee (HRC) found that theState of Greece has violated the International Covenant on Civil and PoliticalRights (ICCPR) in the case Katsaris v.Greece (Communication No. 1558/2007).[5] This case was submitted jointly by GHM andOMCT on behalf of Mr. Nikos Katsaris, a Greek Roma who was victim of ill-treatmentand discrimination by Greece police officers. On 12 September 1999,Mr. Katsaris was stopped by the police when driving away from a car markettogether with his father, brother and cousin. He was kicked, pointed with a gunand threatened by the police officers. He was subsequently handcuffed andbrought to the police station, where he was placed in overcrowded holdingcells, from which he was released only the next day. During the time he was indetention, Mr. Katsaris was subjected to racially motivated insults and verbalabuse by the police officers. Later, a prosecutor used discriminatory languagereferring to his Romani life-style.

There have beentwo previous convictions of Greece for police ill-treatment by the United Nations Human Rights Committee(HRC). On 28 March 2006, in the Case ofAlexandros Kouidis v. Greece, the HRC found that Greece’s failure, at thelevel of the Supreme Court, to take account of the author’s claims that hisconfession was given as a result of ill-treatment by police, from 17 May to 27June 1991, amounted to a violation of article 14, paragraph 3(g) of the International Covenant on Civil andPolitical Rights (ICCPR).[6] On 24 July 2008 in the Case of Andreas Kalamiotis v. Greece,the HRC found that Greece violated Article 2 paragraph 3 (right to an effectiveremedy) read together with Article 7 (prohibition of torture) of the ICCPRconcerning the lack of an effective investigation into the allegations ofpolice brutality against Rom Andreas Kalamiotis, on 14 June 2001, in Aghia Paraskevi (GreaterAthens).[7]

Moreover, therehave been seven convictions of Greece by the ECtHR for ill-treatment by police.The first ruling, issued on 13 December 2005, concerned the beating of Roma Lazaros Bekos and Eleftherios Koutropouloson 8 May 1998.[8] The second ruling, issued on 18January 2007, concerned the beating of Syrian Mhn Ghassan Alsayed Allaham[9] on 8 September 1998. The thirdruling, issued on 24 May 2007, concerned the beating of Dimitris Zelilof on 23December 2001.[10] The fourth ruling, issued on 6December 2007, concerned the beating of Romni Fani-Yannula Petropoulou-Tsakiris on 28 January 2002.[11] The fifth ruling, issued on 14January 2010, concerned the beating of PanayoteGalotskin on 23 December 2001.[12] The sixth ruling, issued on 22April 2010, concerned the beating of RomaTheodoros Stefanou on 5 August 2001.[13] The seventh ruling, issued on 17January 2012, concerned the torture of NecatiZontul by coastguard officers on 5 June 2001.[14]

On the other hand, there have been four convictions of Greece by theECtHR for injury or death from police shooting. The first ruling, issued on 20December 2004, concerned the shooting of ChristosMakaratzis on 13 September 1995.[15] The second ruling, issuedon 21 June 2007, concerned the shooting and rendering invalid, on 26 January1998, of Rom Ioannis Karagiannopoulos.[16] The third ruling, issuedon 8 July 2007, concerned the fatal shooting of Albanian Gentjan Celniku on 21 November 2001.[17] The fourth ruling, issuedon 8 January 2010, concerned the fatal shooting of Nikos Leonidis on 25 March 2000.[18]

The Katsaris case has beenbrought jointly by both organisations as part of OMCT litigation support to UNtreaty bodies. It is the third condemnation of a state party in the course of2012 following cases in Paraguay and the first ever submission of a torturecase against Mexico to the UN Committee Against Torture.

[1] The UN HRC Views willbe available on line at


[3] See State Violence in Greece : AnAlternative Report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture 47th Session,World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), Coordinated Organizations andCommunities for Roma Human Rights in Greece (SOKADRE), Greek Helsinki Monitor(GHM), Minority Rights Group - Greece (MRG-G). Also see: State Violence in Greece: An Update (October2011-April 2012), Alternative Report to the United Nations Committee AgainstTorture, 48th Session, submitted by the same NGOs. See :

[4] See Commitee AgainstTorture, Concluding Observations :Greece, UN Document CAT/C/GRC/CO/5-6, 27 June 2012. See :

[5] The UN HRC Views willbe available on line at














Sign up now

Subscribe to our latest news & alerts