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Diplomarbeit

zur Erlangung eines Titels des Magister der rechtswissenschaftlichen


Fakultt an der Karl-Franzens-Universitt Graz
am Institut fr Vlerrecht und Internationale Beziehungen

ber das Thema

Case Studies on the Implementation of European Human Rights


Standards for Irregular Migrants in Detention,

eingereicht von
Rainer Eggarter (Matrikelnummer: 9813001)

Betreuerin: Ass. Prof. DDr. Renate Kicker

Graz, 06.07.2011

Ehrenwrtliche Erklrung

Ich, Rainer Eggarter, erklre hiermit, dass ich die vorliegende wissenschaftliche Arbeit selbststndig
angefertigt und die mit ihr unmittelbar verbundenen Ttigkeiten selbst erbracht habe. Ich erklre
weiters, dass ich keine anderen als die angegebenen Hilfsmittel benutzt habe. Alle aus gedruckten,
ungedruckten oder dem Internet im Wortlaut oder im wesentlichen Inhalt bernommenen
Formulierungen und Konzepte sind gem den Regeln fr wissenschaftliche Arbeiten zitiert und
durch Funoten bzw. durch andere genaue Quellenangaben gekennzeichnet. Die wissenschaftliche
Arbeit ist noch keiner anderen Prfungsbehrde vorgelegt worden. Diese Arbeit wurde in
gedruckter und elektronischer Form abgegeben. Ich besttige, dass der Inhalt der digitalen Version
vollstndig mit dem der gedruckten Version bereinstimmt.

Unterschrift

Graz, 30. Juni, 2011

Danksagung

Diese Diplomarbeit mchte ich meinen Eltern widmen. Ihrer Geduld und Untersttzung in allen
Lebenslagen verdanke ich den Abschluss meines Studiums.

Ausserdem mchte ich mich bei meiner Betreuerin, Prof. DDr. Renate Kicker, fr ihre Hilfe,
Geduld und ausdauernde Untersttzung bedanken.

Case Studies on the Implementation of European Human


Rights Standards for Irregular Migrants in Detention

Table of Contents:

A) Introduction

B) European human rights law and standards for irregular migrants in detention

B1) Legally binding rules in international law

B1a) The right to liberty and security: Art 5 ECHR, Art 9 UDHR and Art 9

ICCPR

B1b) The prohibition of torture: Article 3 ECHR

B1c) The fundamental principle of non refoulement

10

B1d) The twenty guidelines on forced return

11

B1e) The DUBLIN II Regulation

12

B2) The Committee for the Prevention of Torture ( CPT)

13

B3) The CPT standards regarding irregular migrants in detention

14

C) Case Studies in the Light of the Implementation of the Standards set by the CPT

19

C1) Greece
C1a) Visit 25/08/2005 09/09/2005

20

C1b) Visit 20/02/2007 27/02/2007

33

C1c) Visit 23/09/2008 29/09/2008

46

C1d) Visit 17/09/2009 29/09/2009

54

C1e) The public statement by the CPT concerning Greece

67

C1f) Conclusions regarding the Cooperation between the CPT and Greece

68

C2) Italy

C2a) Visit 16/06/2006 23/06/2006

70

C2b) Visit 14/09/2008 26/09/2008

77

C2c) Visit 27/07/2009 31/07/2009

81

C2d) Conclusions regarding the Cooperation between the CPT and Italy

88

D) Conclusio

89

E) Sources

92

A) Introduction

Migration of people has always existed in the history of human kind. Especially in the last decades
the phenomenon of a massive migrative movement of human beings from developing countries
towards industrialized nations has augmented dramatically.
Today the topic of illegal immigration has become a key issue of European politics.
Regarding the facts of economic development, globalisation and also climatic change, this
phenomenon is becoming more and more important not only to single European countries, but to
the European Community as a whole.
The European Union is facing an urgent problem in the case of how to cope with this situation as
well. European states, which are, because of their geographic position, more affected by the
migrative movement than others, urge for a common assessment of the situation.
In fact, the total numbers of immigrants who have reached the shores of for example Greece, Spain
and Italy have risen dramatically in the last 10 years.

Today, the civil societies of European states are aware of the fact of increasing immigration which
is affecting Europe, but they are not the only ones.
Political parties, mostly from the 'right wing' have discovered the topic of immigration, using it as
an argument for national policies based on inequality and discrimination.
The European Convention on the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment ( ECPT) is the legal framework for the CPT a monitoring and standard setting body provided by the Council of Europe, for securing general standards of human rights for detained
persons.
These are human rights standards, which offer guidelines for the countries who are members of the
Council of Europe.
Civil society needs to understand that human rights do not exist only to protect some minorities
from ill treatment, but that human rights standards are functioning as a safeguard for a
democratic society itself.
In my thesis I want to take a closer look at the work of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture1
1 Further on referred to as the 'CPT' or 'Committee'

in the countries of Greece and Italy, simply because these countries are two of the most effected
ones in the EU by irregular migration.
Which are the benefits of the work of the CPT? Did it contribute to improving human rights
standards in these countries?
Which are the single safeguards for irregular migrants in detention and which international treaties
contribute to them?
Another important aspect is, to what extent the principle of non refoulement is being respected
and put in practice by European countries, which are parties to the U.N. Convention about the
Status of Refugees and /or it's Protocol of 1967.
In my thesis I am trying to find out if / how human rights standards in this case a bundle of
safeguards, set by the CPT - are being implemented by two member states of the Council of Europe
and the European Union: Greece and Italy. This I intend to achieve by looking into the reports of
the CPT following their visits to these two countries and the states' responses which follow the
reports.
This is an opportunity to find out about the ability and willingness of states regarding the
implementation of certain human rights standards, set by the CPT.
Further on it provides at least to a certain extent comparable data regarding the quality of
cooperation of two different countries with an expert body.

The CPT' s definition of 'irregular migrants in detention': This is the term to denote persons
who have been deprived of their liberty under aliens legislation either because they have entered a
country illegally (or attempted to do so) or because they have overstayed their permission to stay in
the country in question.2
Further on it needs to be clear, that asylum seekers are not irregular migrants, although they may
achieve the same status, if their application for asylum is rejected.

2 19th General Report of the CPT's activities ( 2008 - 2009), paragraph 76

B) European human rights law and standards for irregular migrants in


detention

B1) Legally binding rules in international law

B1a) The right to liberty and security: Art 5 ECHR, Art 9 UDHR and Art 9 ICCPR

Unlike the detainment of a person awaiting trial for being suspected of having committed a crime or
incarceration after a conviction, administrative detention means the deprivation of liberty by state
authorities without trial.
Art 5 (f) ECHR states: 1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be
deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by
law:
(f): the lawful arrest or detention of a person to prevent his effecting an unauthorised entry into the
country or of a person against whom action is being taken with a view to deportation or
extradition.
Administrative detention may only be ordered after an individual examination, if this measure was
necessary to ensure that a removal order was executable. Further on, the measure needs to be based
on national law and may only be ordered, if no other measure but administrative detention can
assure the execution of the removal order effectively.

Art 93 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ( UDHR) 4 and Art 95 of the International
3 No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
4 Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December, 1948.
5 1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention.
No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established
by law. 2. Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be
promptly informed of any charges against him. 3. Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought
promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within
a reasonable time or to release. It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody,
but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial, at any other stage of the judicial proceedings, and, should
occasion arise, for execution of the judgement.
4. Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in
order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is
not lawful.

Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ( ICCPR)6 provide, that administrative detention may only
be applied in a very restrictive way and following clear rules, not to be qualified as arbitrary arrest.

B1b) The prohibition of torture: Article 3 ECHR

One year after the foundation of the Council of Europe in 1949, the European Convention on
Human Rights was signed in Rome. It entered into force on September 3, 1953 and guarantees a
number of fundamental human rights to every person within the territory of the countries which
have ratified the ECHR.
Article 3 ECHR the prohibition of torture - is crucial for my thesis: No one shall be subjected to
torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Art 3 ECHR is forming an absolute rule, which means that it is not accessible to any kind of
reservations or exceptions. This means that every person has to be protected from torture, inhuman
treatment or punishment, who is deprived of his / her liberty.7
In detail, Art 3 ECHR is prohibiting three different types of treatment:
As torture a certain measure can be qualified, if it is a deliberate treatment, which evokes serious
and cruel suffering.8
Cases, which have been qualified as torture by the European Court of Human Rights ( ECtHR) are
for example the rape of a female detainee by the police.9
Inhuman treatment is called a measure, which causes intense mental or physical suffering. In the
case Gfgen vs. Germany ( June 2010) the ECtHR qualified it as inhuman treatment, when police
officers threatened the applicant with imminent pain for the purpose of extracting information.10
It has to be kept in mind that it greatly depends on the individual case, if a measure can be called
'inhuman treatment'. For example state of health, sex and age need to be considered if a certain
treatment was able to cause fear and humiliation. An example for inhuman treatment was seen by
the ECtHR in the case of interrogation of a detainee by the police, where a person had to stand
5. Anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation.
6
7
8
9
10

Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December, 1966.


UNHCR, Refugee Protection: A Guide to International Refugee Law, December 2001.
Christoph Grabenwarter, Europische Menschenrechtskonvention, 2007, 20
ECtHR, Aydin vs. Turkey, September 25 1979, App. No. 23178/94
http://echr.coe.int/echr/en/hudoc

blindfolded for several hours with a high noise level.11


As degrading treatment or punishment a measure is qualified, which possibly provokes fear,
anguish and the strong feeling of inferiority and might break the physical and moral resistance.12
As degrading treatment or punishment the ECtHR qualified court ordered physical punishment.13

B1c) The fundamental principle of non refoulement

Article 33 (1) of the 1951 Geneva Convention on the status of Refugees states: No contracting
state shall expel or return (refouler) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of
territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his/her race, religion,
nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

Article 33 (2) of the same Convention provides a number of exceptions from Art 33 (1): Basically a
refugee may be returned forcibly, if he constitutes a serious threat to the security of the country he
tries to enter, or to its community.14
It must be underlined, that the provision of Art 33 (2) is to be applied in a highly restrictive way. A
country, trying to apply this provision has to prove that there is a direct connection between the
refugee' s presence in a certain country and a national security threat to that very country.15

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the United Nations Human Rights Committee
have interpreted the articles regarding the prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading
treatment and punishment - namely Art 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights (ICCPR) and Art 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights in a way, declaring the
principle of non refoulement as an inherent part of these articles.16
11
12
13
14

ECtHR, Ireland vs. United Kingdom, Jan 18 1978, App. No. 5310/71
Jim Murdoch, The tretament of prisoners European standards, 2006, p. 119
ECtHR, Tyrer vs. United Kingdom, April 25, 1978, App. No. 5856/72
The benefit of the present provision may not, however, be claimed by a refugee whom there are reasonable
grounds for regarding as a danger to the security of the country in which he is, or who, having been convicted by a
final judgment of a particularly serious crime, constitutes a danger to the community of that country.
15 Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Implications of European Union Internal Security Proposals and Measures in
the Aftermath of the 11 September Attacks in the United States, November 2001,
http://www.hrw.org/press/2001/11/eusecurity.htm
16 ECtHR decisions in:
1.: Soering v. United Kingdom, 7 July 1989; Cruz Varas v. Sweden, 20 March 1991;

10

Further on, a derogation from Art 3 ECHR or Art 7 ICCPR is not allowed under any circumstances.
This makes the principle of non refoulement an absolute rule and is also widely recognised as
common law.17

B1d) The twenty guidelines on forced return

The Twenty Guidelines on Forced Return - adopted by the Ministers of the Council of Europe on 4
May, 2005 - are meant to be a useful tool for the governments of the member states of the Council
of Europe to implement laws and best practices in accordance with international human rights
standards.18
According to these guidelines, administrative detention may only be ordered after an individual
examination, if this measure was necessary to ensure that a removal order was executable. Further
on, the measure needs to be based on national law and may only be ordered, if no other measure but
administrative detention can assure the execution of the removal order effectively.
The state must provide for the possibility of legal remedy against the order of administrative
detention. In case of such an appeal, a court must decide speedily, if the measure of detainment was
lawful. If the court denies the lawfulness of it, the detainee must be released immediately.
The length of administrative detention must be kept as short as possible. On a regular basis it should
be examined if the measure was still necessary.

At the moment of the detainment of an irregular migrant, the person must be informed rapidly about
his situation and his rights in a language he can understand.
These rights are in detail: Access to a lawyer; access to a medical doctor; the right to inform a third
2.: Vilvarajah and Others v. United Kingdom, 30 October 1991;
3.: Chahal v. United Kingdom, 15 November 1996;
4.: Ahmed v. Austria, 17 December 1996;
5.: TI v. United Kingdom (Admissibility), 7 March 2000;
6.: Saadi v. Italy, 22 February 2008;
7.: Ben Khemais v. Italy, 24 February 2009,
8.: O. v. Italy, 24 March 2009
9.: Sellem v. Italy, 5 May 2009.
17 UNHCR, Refugee Protection: A Guide to International Refugee Law, December 2001.
18 The 20 Guidelines on forced return, adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 4 May 2005

11

person of one's situation.


Regarding the detention facility, states should always keep in mind, that the detained must not be
treated like criminal suspects. Therefore the centre of detention should not have the character of a
prison and be adequately furnished and clean.
Carefully selected staff regarding language skills and adequately trained for the difficult task are
indispensable.
The detainment of irregular migrants together with criminal suspects should be avoided.

B1e) The DUBLIN II Regulation

Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 of 18 February 2003 ( also known as DUBLIN II


Regulation)19 is establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State
responsible for examining an asylum application lodged in one of the Member States by a thirdcountry national, based on Art 78 (1) 20, (2a)21 of the consolidated Treaty of the European Union (ex Articles 63, points 1 and 2, and 64(2) TEC22):

One of the Dublin II regulation' s main purposes was the fast determination of which member state
was responsible for an asylum application, to resolve the problem of various applications for
asylum in different EU member states.
According to this Regulation, in most cases, the responsible member state will be the one where the
asylum seeker entered the territory of the EU for the first time.

19 http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32003R0343:EN:HTML
20 1. The Union shall develop a common policy on asylum, subsidiary protection and temporary protection with a
view to offering appropriate status to any third-country national requiring international protection and ensuring
compliance with the principle of non-refoulement. This policy must be in accordance with the Geneva Convention
of 28 July 1951 and the Protocol of 31 January 1967 relating to the status of refugees, and other relevant treaties.
21 2. For the purposes of paragraph 1, the European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the
ordinary legislative procedure, shall adopt measures for a common European asylum system comprising:
(a) a uniform status of asylum for nationals of third countries, valid throughout the Union;
22 TEC: Treaty of the European Community.

12

B2) The Committee for the Prevention of Torture ( CPT)

Article 3 of the ECHR states: No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment.
Based on this Article, on September 26, 1987, the member states of the Council of Europe adopted
the European Convention on the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment ( ECPT).23
Article 1 of the ECPT states : There shall be established a European Committee for the Prevention
of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (hereinafter referred to as "the
Committee"). The Committee shall, by means of visits, examine the treatment of persons deprived of
their liberty with a view to strengthening, if necessary, the protection of such persons from torture
and from inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
According to Article 4 of the ECPT, the members of the European Committee for the Prevention of
Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment ( CPT) are elected by the Committee
of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The number of members equals the number of parties to the
convention so there are currently 47 members of the CPT, one from each state which is party to
the ECPT.
The CPT is an expert body, obliged to visit places of detention of the member states of the Council
of Europe. These visits are made by delegations -which are consisting of several members of the
CPT, accompanied by staff and interpreters, if necessary and are usually carried out periodically
every 4 years per member state, but additional ad hoc visits are also possible, if necessary. As
defined by the Convention, places of detention are all places where people are being held against
their will by a public authority. After each visit, a report is to be drawn up about the findings,
followed by recommendations on how to improve the actual situation in detention facilities. These
recommendations are underlining the fact, that the standards, set by the CPT, are not legally
binding.
The basic principles of the work of the CPT are cooperation and confidentiality, aiming at helping
member states to improve the situation of human beings in detention, rather than condemning states
for having failed to do so on their own. Still, if a member country refuses to meet the
23 http://www.cpt.coe.int/en/documents/ecpt.htm

13

recommendations made by the CPT, according to Art 10 (2) ECPT, the Committee may decide, after
the party has had an opportunity to make known it' s views, by a majority of two thirds of it' s
members, to make a public statement on the matter.
Although the report regarding the situation of detained people in the different member countries of
the Council of Europe would be confidential, almost all member states agreed to make them
accessible to the public reports and states' responses can be found on the internet.24
For a better understanding of the steady process of cooperation between the expert body of the CPT
and the single states, I'm applying the following form of writing in my thesis:
Every recommendation regarding a special topic is being followed immediately by the relevant
state's response in cursive letters.

At the end of my thesis I will try to compare the level of cooperation between the two countries
with the CPT. Are the recommendations of the expert body accepted and applied?
All the work of the Committee depends on the willingness to cooperate which the governments of
the countries show, who have signed and ratified the Convention on the Prevention of Torture.

B3) The CPT standards25 regarding irregular migrants in detention

The standards regarding the guidelines on how detained persons are to be treated and accomodated
is regularly updated by the CPT.26 Since the CPT had published its' view regarding the rights and
safeguards for irregular migrants in the 7th General Report in 1997 and after numerous visits to
places of detention for these people, the Committee has reached the opinion that Irregular Migrants
are an especially vulnerable group to various forms of ill treatment, from the moment of
apprehension, during their time in detention to when being deported.27

Although the phenomenon of massive migrative movement is a serious and difficult task in the
24
25
26
27

http://www.cpt.coe.int/en/visits.htm
According to the 19th General report on the CPT's activities (2008 2009), paragraphs 77ff
http://www.cpt.coe.int/en/docsstandards.htm
19th General report on the CPT's activities, paragraph 75

14

majority of European Council member states, there is still no comprehensive legal instrument which
would provide the standards and safeguads regarding irregular migrants in detention. Clear,
applicable rules can only be found in the 2006 European Prison Rules. These can be applied to
Irregular Migrants who are being held in prison, but it has to be pointed out that Irregular Migrants
generally shouldn't be held in prisons at all. Since according to Art 5 (1) f 28 of the ECHR the
reason for the detention of an irregular migrant is completely different from the reason for the
detention of a criminal suspect or convicted offender, Irregular Migrants should never be kept in
the same facility or even the same cell with a convicted person or suspect.
In some member states of the Council of Europe, authorities apply a policy of locking up all
irregular migrants awaiting deportation, without regarding a time limit or judicial review. This
'administrative detention', according to the CPT, is opposing the case law of the ECtHR, if
authorities do not check for its' necessity in each individual case.
Either way, if administrative detention is considered necessary, the facilities for the detention of
irregular migrants should reflect the legal status and situation of this group of people. Restriction of
movement should be minimized, contact with NGOs and the outside world as well as various
activities should be made possible.29

In practice, the delegations of the CPT found irregular migrants detained in various types of
facilities: In police stations, prisons, special holding centres for Irregular migrants or holding
centres at points of entry. It has to be clarified, that a migrant who refused entry into a country and
is held in an 'international zone' of an airport, is also being deprived of his/her liberty. The argument
that such a person was not deprived of his/her liberty, since it could take any international flight to
leave, has been denied by the ECtHR:"The mere fact that it is possible for asylum seekers to leave
voluntarily the country where they wish to take refuge cannot exclude a restriction ("atteinte") on
liberty ....holding the applicants in the transit zone .... was equivalent in practice, in view of the
restrictions suffered, to a deprivation of liberty".30

Point of entry holding facilities like on international airports have been visited by delegations of the
28 1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the
following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law: (f): the lawful arrest or detention of a person
to prevent his effecting an unauthorised entry into the country or of a person against whom action is being taken
with a view to deportation or extradition.
29 CPT/Inf/E (2002) 1 - Rev. 2010, page 54, paragraph 29
30 Amuur vs. France, judged by the ECtHR on 25 june 1996: Breach of Art (5) 1f ECHR

15

CPT various times. In most occasions these facilities were completely inappropriate for the
detainment of people for more than 24 hours. Lacking means for the storage of luggage; inadequate
sanitary and washing facilities; inadequate provision of food and medical assistance were usual
deficits at these places.31
In some countries irregular migrants were forced to stay in police stations. Apart from the fact that
these places are not equipped for the detention of persons for more than 24 hours, many times the
material conditions were poor and the migrants even had to share cells with criminal suspects,
which is unacceptable for the reasons explained before. In various cases irregular migrants were
detained for more than a week or even months.32
In various cases irregular migrants were being kept in prisons. Apart from the fact that a prison
usually is not equipped for the needs of Irregular Migrants like especially trained staff it is not a
place where to keep a person who has not committed any sort of crime.33
In the view of the CPT, irregular migrants should generally be accomodated in centres specifically
designed for that purpose. These places should provide adequate material conditions, a suitible
regime and and especially trained staff which is able to assist the detained a task which is hardly
possible to be fulfilled by a normal prison guard. It is easy to understand that the personnel of such
facilities needs to be well selected and trained, regarding different languages, but also conflict
management. Many detainees might find it difficult to accept that they were being detained without
having committed any sort of crime. Also, ethnic tensions between migrants of different cultures
and nations may occur.34
Authorities also should seek to build these facilities in a way to avoid a carceral environment. The
CPT is pleased to see that various member states are following its' recommendations regarding
these special detention centres.

The basic safeguards for Irregular Migrants in detention are as for every detained person access
to a lawyer; access to a medical doctor; the right to inform a third person of one's choice about the
detention measure.35
The right to have access to a lawyer is effectively provided, if the detainee is allowed to talk to a
lawyer in private and to have him present when being interviewed by state authorities. Also, legal
31
32
33
34
35

CPT/Inf/E (2002) 1 - Rev. 2010, page 54, paragraph 26


CPT/Inf/E (2002) 1 - Rev. 2010, page 54, paragraph 27
CPT/Inf/E (2002) 1 - Rev. 2010, page 54, paragraph 28
CPT/Inf/E (2002) 1 - Rev. 2010, page 54, paragraph 29
CPT/Inf/E (2002) 1 - Rev. 2010, page 54, paragraphs 30, 31

16

advice regarding residence, detainment and deportation needs to be provided. In the case that the
detained person can not affort to pay for the legal support, free legal aid must be provided.
Access to a medical doctor means, that every migrant should be examined by a doctor or a qualified
nurse at the beginning of his/her detention. This measure is crucial not only for the detainee's
health but also for every other person at the detention site, be it detainee or staff. Regularly,
Irregular Migrants are suffering from traumas due to torture or ill treatment which they had
suffered in their countries of origin. Especially trained medical personnel should be available in a
centre for the detainment of Irregular Migrants.
Confidentiality of medical information needs to be kept in mind. The medical record of a detainee
should not be accessible by anybody else but the medical staff.
For the purpose of fighting torture and ill treatment by state authorities, medical personnel needs
to record the results of medical examinations in every case of alleged ill treatment. Even if the
detainee does not claim having been ill treated, but the results of a medical examination give
reason to believe that maltreatment may have occurred, the relevant judicial authorities need to be
informed.
The right of informing a third person of his/her choice about his situation includes the detainees
right to maintain contact with the outside world. That means that NGOs and relatives must be
allowed to visit the detainee. Also, these persons should be allowed to make phone calls for that
purpose authorities should allow newly arriving migrants to keep their mobile phones if they have
one.
When arriving at a detention centre, every detainee should be informed about his rights in a
language he/she understands. To achieve this, the CPT recommends state authorities to provide
documents providing this information in languages which the arriving migrants usually understand.
Further on, authorities should draw up a detention order for every detainee which is to be kept
available at the centre the individual migrant is detained.
The CPT also recommends that authorities draw up clear house rules at the detention centres in
various languages. That measure is known to facilitate greatly both the detainees stay and the work
of staff. Clear rules and possible disciplinary sanctions need to be known and explained before
being executed. A possibility to appeal against a measure should be installed as well.

The CPT encourages member states to install independent monitoring bodies. These should be
17

allowed to visit the centres of detention for Irregular Migrants frequently and without previous
notice and to talk to the detainees in private. Such an independent body could monitor the overall
situation of the detained people regarding their basic rights as well as the material conditions.

The prohibition of torture and ill treatment, provided by Art 3 ECHR includes, that a state must
not return an irregular migrant to a country where he/she is running a serious risk of being tortured.

Any communications addressed to the CPT in Strasbourg by persons alleging that they are to be
sent to a country where they run a risk of being subjected to torture or ill-treatment are immediately
brought to the attention of the European Commission of Human Rights 36 . The Commission is better
placed than the CPT to examine such allegations and, if appropriate, take preventive action.
If an immigration detainee (or any other person deprived of his liberty) interviewed in the course of
a visit alleges that he is to be sent to a country where he runs a risk of being subjected to torture or
ill-treatment, the CPT's visiting delegation will verify that this assertion has been brought to the
attention of the relevant national authorities and is being given due consideration. Depending on the
circumstances, the delegation might request to be kept informed of the detainee's position and/or
inform the detainee of the possibility of raising the issue with the European Commission of Human
Rights (and, in the latter case, verify that he is in a position to submit a petition to the Commission
). 37
Anyway, the CPT's job is rather to check, if the legal process and structures within a member state
provide a guarantee that a migrant is not being sent to a country where he might suffer torture or ill
treatment. That includes that a decision ordering the deportation of a person is appealable and that
state authorities have the necessary information about the human rights situation in a third country
in question.
Having in mind these guidelines the CPT cannot tolerate the policy of intercepting refugee boats at
sea and returning them to Africa, which is currently being applied by certain member states. Such a
policy must be qualified as a breach of the crucial principle of non refoulement. Especially, if the
refugees are sent back to a country which is not party to the 1951 Geneva Convention to the status
or refugees.
Regarding the execution of expulsion orders, the CPT had to remind the member states that certain
36 Since 1 November 1998: "European Court of Human Rights"
37 CPT standards: CPT/Inf/E (2002) 1 - Rev. 2010, page 56, paragraph 33

18

measures are completely unacceptable. The force and measure applied by state outhorities must not
be extensive. Beatings to enforce a person to enter a plane or to punish him/her for not having done
so are completely unacceptable. Gagging is known to be a highly dangerous measure from the
medical point of view and can not be accepted having in mind medical ethics.38

Finally, regarding the detainment of children, the CPT wants to make it clear that the detention of a
minor39 is hardly ever justified. Due to Art 3 (1)40 of the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child, a
detention order against a minor just because of the absence of a residence status, is unacceptable.
Member states need to have in mind the special vulnerability of children, especially if they are not
accompanied by parents, relatives or other persons taking care of them.
Specifically trained personnel should interview the child of course in a language it can understand
assessing the child's vulnerabilities due to violence, trafficking or traumas. Access to legal help
should be provided in a fast and simple way. In case the child is unaccompanied a representative
should be named, taking care of the child's needs such a process needs to be controlled regularly.

In places for the detainment of children, a regular presence of psychologists and social workers is
crucial. Mixed gender staff and the separation from adult inmates showed positive results regarding
the social climate in such facilities.
Of course, if a child is separated by it's parents or other relatives, separating them should be
avoided.

C) Case Studies in the Light of the Implementation of the Standards set by


the CPT

In this chapter I am trying to show in detail how the CPT is developing it's standards regarding the
treatment of irregular migrants in detention. The specific recommendations regarding a single place
of detention in the visited state is immediately followed by the state' s response in case there was
38 13th annual report on the CPT's activities, Strasbourg, 10 September, 2003 paragraphs 32ff
39 Which means: Younger than 18. In case of doubt, the person should be treated like a minor.
40 1. In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of
law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.

19

any.
By presenting the information in this way I believe that the reader can get a good impression on
how time consuming and sometimes frustrating the work of the delegations must be. Still, various
positive results which are achieved during the years show that the Committee in some cases only
by formulating recommendations achieves far more than someone would have expected.

Going into detail, in the reports and governmental responses regarding Greece, the reader will find a
lot of information about irregular migrants being detained in police and border guard stations a
policy which is being systematically critizised by the CPT.
Italy, on the other hand, is showing a different approach regarding the detainment of irregular
migrants: Not only that irregular migrants are generally being detained in specific centres, apart
from other detained people like criminal suspects, but also by the fact that in Italy NGOs - instead
of employees of the state like in Greece - are running the centres of detention for irregular
migrants. In detail, the UNHCR representative' s role is to identify and to assist potential asylum
seekers, the IOM representative's task is to provide information about the Italian immigration
legislation and to assist in voluntary repatriations. The Red Cross representative' s job is to take care
of unaccompanied juveniles and other general humanitarian tasks.

C1) Greece

C1a) Visit 27/8/2005 09/09/2005

Police headquarters and stations, which were only supposed to hold criminal suspects for short
periods, are also in use for prolonged detainment of irregular migrants.41
In general, the conditions in police headquarters and stations still have to be called less than
satisfactory. In some cases the situation can even be called inhuman and/or degrading. The CPT' s
recommendations in previous visits had generally been the same, regarding occupancy rates,
material conditions, hygiene and the possibility of exercise.
The current situation is being qualified as having slightly improved, compared to previous visits, but
41 CPT/Inf (2006) 41, Paragraph 23

20

still there's a lot of work ahead, according to the CPT.42

At Athens Police Headquarters ( 3rd floor Juvenile Department), Chios Town , Corfu Town,
Komotini Town police stations , the situation of detainees was being qualified as acceptable in the
case of a short stay. Only basic repair work to ensure the functioning of of the lighting and showers
was necessary in some cases.43
On the opposite, Alexandroupolis Police Station offered hardly any access to natural light and the
sanitary installations were extremely dirty. Mytilini Police Station was described as acceptable in
the case of short period stays, if the hygienic situation would be improved (clean blankets, cleaning
of detention area, enlargement of toilet area).
The Committee was told by the Greek authorities, that both stations, Mytilini and Alexandroupolis,
were to be closed within a year after the visit.
At Athens Police Headquarters (7th floor) and Drapetzona Police Station improvements compared to
the visit in 2001 could be noticed.
Still, since these places are not suitable for prolonged stays, for example because of the lack of
outdoor exercise, the CPT was concerned about the fact that in August 2005, 55 irregular migrants
had spent more than 3 days in these facilities and one even 22 days.
Drapetzona Police Station seemed to be used almost only for detaining irregular migrants and was
constantly overcrowded. The lack of reading materials, television, outdoor exercise, was worsening
the situation even more.
At Kypseli Police Station improvements could be noticed regarding the basement detention area,
compared to the CPT's previous visit in 2001. Still, access to natural and artificial lighting and
ventilation had to be quoted as insufficient. The efforts made to achieve hygiene and cleanliness
could not be seen as satisfactory, but the Committee's biggest concern regarded the situation that
irregular migrants were being kept in their cells for periods up to three months, without the
possibility of activities like the access to an exercise yard.44
A situation which could be described as amounting to inhuman and/or degrading treatment was
found at Omonia Police Station in Athens. The detention area in the 1 st floor, with an official
capacity of 34 persons, was in a bad condition. With hardly any fresh air due to an inefficient
42 CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 22
43 CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 24
44 CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 24

21

ventilation system, a lack of natural light and poor artificial light, the atmosphere was hot and
humid, with the cells in semi-darkness. Male detainees claimed that at night they had no access to
the toilet. Since the in-cell toilet was broken and due to the lack of call bells in the cells it was
impossible to call a guard to open the cell door at night time. Female detainees complained that they
had to drink from the toilet due to the lack of food and water. Four detainees had been there for 75
days, while they had no access to an outdoor exercise yard or any other activities.
Finally, the delegation noted a pair of handcuffs in a holding room above the detention area
attached to a bench. A handcuffed person would be forced to take a very uncomfortable position or
lie down on the floor.45
In their response to the report of the CPT, the Greek authorities described the detention area at
Omonia Police Station as a newly built facility with ventilation, air condition, baths, toilets and
access to natural and artificial light. Since the number of occupants was being watched closely all
the time, overcrowding was being impeded effectively by the measure of redistribution to other
centres of detention when necessary.46 The pair of handcuffs, the delegation of the CPT had found
in the holding room above the detention centre, had already been removed.

Like Police Headquarters, Border Guard Police Stations were considered only as acceptable for
short period stays by the Committee.
In detail, the toilets and showers of Tychero and Iasmos were dirty, but the detention areas were in a
good condition and had good access to natural light and ventilation. In Soufli the hygienic and
material conditions were fine. In contrast, at Ferres Border Guard Station, various problems were
encountered: The sanitary area was filthy and there were only 12 mattresses for 15 detainees at the
day of the CPT' s visit. Also, the delegation noted that there were no heating devices for the winter
time at Ferres and Iasmos.
Like in the case of Police headquarters and stations, at Iasmos and Ferres especially women and
family groups appeared to be forced to stay in these places for up to 3 months. An unacceptable
situation, since these facilities lack the equipment and the outdoor areas for such kind of use.47
Regarding the detention areas at Tychero, Iasmos, Soufli and Ferres, the Greek authorities
responded, that all four centres had already been equipped with a functioning heating device and

45 CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 25


46 CPT/Inf (2006) 42, page 11
47 CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 27

22

that every arriving person was now being handed over cleaning items and provided clean bedding.
48

As an example for Greek Holding Facilities for Aliens, the delegation visited the Hellenikon
holding centre for irregular migrants. Compared to previous visits, when the CPT criticized the state
of furniture, the temporary lacking of hot water and the filthiness of the Hellenikon centre 49, the
CPT noted the installation of plinths to put the mattresses on 50. Further, next to the old structure
there had been built a new facility with a capacity of 123 persons on 213 square meters. Having in
mind that the CPT is considering that each detainee in a multi-occupancy cell should be given the
space of 4 square meters, the occupancy rate in the new centre is far too high.
Access to fresh air, natural and artificial lighting was satisfactory, but clean bedding was not
provided since many of the mattresses appeared to be old and dirty. The fact that also in this new
building the toilet was installed outside the detention cells, causes the same problems as in other
centres: At night access to sanitary installations is difficult and in general each detainee going to the
toilet requires a guard accompanying him / her.
Still, the major problems found were the lack of useful activities and distraction and no health care
service.51 Finally, the delegation found a small cell of the size of 3,5 square meters. Since a cell of
this size was too small to accommodate a detainee for a longer period, it asked the Greek authorities
to explain what this cell was being used for.
The Greek authorities responded, that the Hellenikon holding Centre had already been provided
with new mattresses as requested by the delegation. The detainees were regularly given the
opportunity to outdoor exercise, when the weather was fine. The 3,5 square meter cell the
delegation found at Hellenikon, was only being used for storing clothing items, not as holding cell
for a detainee.52

The holding areas at Athens International Airport were described as clean and in a good material
state. The fact that these facilities were originally planned and built for short term stays is the reason
why there is, like in many other Greek detention facilities for irregular migrants, no exercise yard
for the detainees who have to stay for longer periods.
48
49
50
51
52

CPT/Inf (2006) 42, page 11


CPT/Inf (2002) 31, paragraph 32
CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 28
CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 29
CPT/Inf (2006) 42, page 12

23

The situation in the cell block of the Terminal, which is sited one and a half kilometres away from
the airport, was much more worrying: The nine cells, each measuring 9,5 square meters, had only
one plinth each, which indicates that these cells must have been planned for only one person, while
in practice the official capacity was 5 persons per cell. This number is already too high, keeping in
mind that there should not be less than 4 square meters per detainee.
In practice, in the month of May 2005 up to 9 persons were forced to stay in one cell. Also, the
sanitary facilities were outside the cells, and detainees were complaining that access to a shower
was very limited and that guards did not react rapidly when detainees needed to get to the toilet.
The smell in this detention area made the detainees' s complaints very credible.53
The government's response to the report of the CPT did not make any reference to the situation at
the Holding Areas at Athens International Airport.

During its stay in Athens, the CPT had the chance to visit a new centre of detention, named Petro
Rali special holding facility, which was due to be opened 54 on 27 September 2005, only a few days
after the visit.
Petro Rali was built for a capacity of 560 persons, 380 of them supposed for irregular migrants.
The CPT was concerned, that this whole new facility did not meet most of the Committee' s
recommendations regarding centre's of detention for irregular migrants.
The fact that there were no communal spaces, difficulties to reach the exercise yards and a carceral
atmosphere in the visiting area, preventing any physical contact, made the CPT believe, that in
Petro Rali, like in many other places of detainment of irregular migrants in Greece, detained
persons will be forced to spend most of the day in their cells. Further, there were neither in-cell
sanitary installations, nor call bells.
The CPT' s comment on this new site of detention was clear: The CPT considers the Petro Rali
facility as a missed opportunity for the Greek administration to construct an appropriately designed
centre for the administrative detention of aliens.55
For the purpose of avoiding an atmosphere of a prison, the Committee recommended the Greek
authorities to provide access to radio and television, further to reading materials and other forms of
distraction and recreation.
53 CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 30
54 CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 35
55 CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 36

24

The Greek response to the CPT' s arguments regarding Petro Rali consisted in pointing out that the
recently finished facility met the technical and medical basic needs of a place of detention, like the
installation of a ventilation system, 13 card-phones for the detainees or the fact that detained
persons were provided articles for their personal hygiene like toothbrushes, soap and shampoo.
The lack of call bells in the cells was not considered as a problem, since the detainees would be
under constant surveillance by the staff anyway.
Regarding health care at the Centre a medical team was on duty four days a week and every
detainee was planned to undergo a lung check once a month. Also, a personal medical file was to
be opened on each detainee.
The Greek authorities made no reference to the CPT' s worry that Petro Ralli was never meant to
meet the special needs for the administrative detention of aliens.

Since the surveillance of the coastal areas is the duty of the Greek Coast Guard, it is also part of it' s
responsibility to stop and detain persons for short periods, who entered Greek territory without
permission, until they can be transferred into police custody.
The CPT visited two Establishments under the Ministry of Merchant Marine, namely in Chios
and Mytilini. For the purpose of being able to attend larger numbers of irregular migrants arriving at
once, Chios Port Authority acquired a container of 28 square meters, lacking any kind of furniture.
According to the CPT, by installing a proper ventilation system and providing some furniture to sit
on, this facility would be suitable for a detainment of a few hours.
The fact, that before the CPT' s visit, irregular migrants were kept in this facility for more than 24
hours or even during the weekend, had to be commented as unacceptable.56
During the visit of the current establishments, the Commission was informed, that the coast guard
was planning the construction of new, permanent, facilities replacing the old ones.
The CPT asked for a copy of these new plans.
The detention cell of the Port Authority of Mytilini had to be qualified as completely unacceptable
even for short stays of a detained person: The cell was extremely dirty, lacking natural light and
ventilation. Also, the toilet facility was not functioning. Due to this situation, the CPT
recommended the immediate closure of this facility till it' s renovation.57
56 On 21 June 2005, 25 persons spent more than 24 hours in this facility - CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 46
57 CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 46

25

Finally, a specific custody register regarding the detained individuals was lacking in the Port
Authority' s facilities.
In its response to the report of the CPT, the Greek authorities responded, that a prefabricated
dwelling had already been constructed at Chios, which met the needs of irregular migrants during
their stay. The reception centre was being kept clean, detainees were provided clean bedding. The
disinfection of the place was being undertaken on a regular basis.
Regarding the facility in Mytilini which the CPT regarded unacceptable, the Greek authorities
responded that this very facility was not being used for prolonged stays of detainees, but only for
short periods of some 2 or 3 hours. Since it had also been cleaned and renovated since the
delegation' s visit, it was regarded as acceptable again.58

The Special Holding Centres for Immigrants are functioning for the administrative detention of
immigration detainees, who are being transferred there by police and Coast Guard forces after a
short stay at Border Guard stations or the detention facilities of the Coast Guard. Irregular migrants
remain in these facilities for up to 3 months.59
In 2005 the CPT visited the holding centres of Mytilini, Peplos, Venna and Chios. According to the
current legal situation, the operational duties were divided between the Region and the Police. The
Committee noticed a lack of coordination between the regional administration - which was
responsible for the provision of hygienic products, health care and food supply - and the police
forces, who were responsible for custodial affairs 60. A new Greek Law on Aliens, namely Law No
3386, was about to enter into force in January 2006, which included Article 81, which bave all the
competences regarding Alien detention centres to the national level. Further information regarding
the different competences was requested.
In its response regarding the legal situation coming into force with Article 81 of Law No 3386, the
Greek authorities reported of a meeting held on 13/06/2006 at the Ministry of Interior, Public
Administration and decentralisation with representatives of all competent state authorities
regarding irregular immigration, for the reason of setting up new Holding Centres for illegal
immigrants.
According to the government' s response, the Ministry of Public Order was responsible for the
registration and deportation of irregular migrants. The regional administrations were responsible
58 CPT/Inf (2006) 42, page 15
59 CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 48
60 CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 48

26

for the jurisdiction of the operation and the provision of food and medical care. No reference was
made to the lack of coordination between Greek authorities, as mentioned by the CPT.61

The CPT asked for further information regarding arrangements for the management of the foreigner
detention centres since these centres should be staffed by adequately qualified personnel. According
to the legal state of irregular migrants the situation of their accommodation should also not have the
character of a prison, and the single facilities should be clean and in good state of repair.
Instead, none of the detention centres which had been opened during the 4 years before the CPT' s
visit in 2005, met these recommendations. While in the first years of massive arrivals of irregular
migrants on Greek territory, immediate, temporary measures to cope with the new situation had
been necessary, the CPT cannot accept the ongoing ignorance of generally accepted principles and
standards regarding the treatment of irregular migrants.
Greek authorities did not respond to the questions regarding staff, nor the fact that none of the
recently opened holding centres for Aliens met the recommendations of the CPT.

Various cases of ill treatment were discovered in Venna special holding centre for aliens. In it's
report, the CPT described 3 of these cases:
One person claimed that he had been repeatedly beaten with a stick and kicked on his legs, which
the affected person alleged had happened in the six days before the Committee' s visit.
A second person claimed that he had been beaten on his shoulder and arm four days before the
CPT' s visit and a third person said that besides having been beaten with a stick on his shoulder and
back, he had also received a blow on his forehead with a knee, two days ago.
The examinations, immediately undertaken in these 11 cases by two medical members of the CPT,
showed physical proof of the accusations made.62
As a consequence of it' s findings, the CPT requested an immediate forensic - medical investigation
of the cases and transmitted the names of the 11 detained persons to the highest ranking officer of
the Rodopi police station as well as to the responsible officer at the Ministry of Public Order in
Athens, but when, only two days later ( on 6 September 2005) the Committee returned to check on
the results, it had to find out that the person with the most serious signs of maltreatment had not
61 CPT/Inf (2006) 42, page 16
62 CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 52,a), b), c)

27

been examined at all. Three days later, at the end of the CPT' s visit, the results of the medical
examinations could be checked by the delegation and it was surprised to find out not only that the
results and conclusions found by the forensic medical services of Thrace were completely different
from the CPT' s findings only a few days before, but also that, although the delegation had
repeatedly claimed the examination of the detainee showing the most serious signs of ill treatment
63

, that very person still had not been examined at all.

In detail the the results of the medicare carried out by the Greek authorities showed signs of injuries
only in 5 of the 11 cases, presented by the CPT. Further on, the examiner dated the moment of the
infliction of these injuries some 20 to 25 days ago, which meant in all cases that the cause of all
injuries found lay before the first day of detainment on Greek soil.64
On 21 September 2005 the delegation for the 3 rd time transmitted the full list of names of the
detained persons who had to be examined. The Ministry of Public order responded on 3 November
2005, saying that all the 11 migrants had been examined by state authorities, only the names had
been mixed up. During it' s follow up visit the delegation was told by the detained person, which
had shown the most serious injuries, that he had explicitly been forbidden by guards, seeing a
doctor.
Regarding the above mentioned happenings, the Committee asked the Greek authorities to comment
on

the Committee's concern, that the Greek forensic doctor recorded no injuries in respect of

six of the foreigners, when only the day before the medical members of the CPTs delegation found
that all six of them displayed recent injuries;65

it's disagreement with the conclusion in the Greek forensic medical report, that the injuries

displayed in respect of the five foreigners, occurred some 20 to 25 days prior to the examination.66

Also, the Committee pointed out, that the medical examination report, transferred by the head of
Thrace Forensic Medical Service, was lacking the minimum standards of good practice in the
field67, which should include demographic information on the patient; the patients account as to
how the injuries found were received; a detailed description of each injury and a reasoned
63 CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 52 a)
64 CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 54
65 CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 56
66 CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 56
67 CPTcf. Principles on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment (General Assembly Resolution 55/89, December 4 2000).

28

conclusion as to the cause and time of the injuries.

Like in Venna, cases of ill treatment also seemed to have occurred in Mytilini Special Holding
Facility for Aliens: 2 detained persons claimed to have been beaten by a senior officer, who was not
stationed at the facility. A baton, like the one described by the detainees, was found by the
delegation in one of the facilities. When asked for an explanation, guards responded that it was only
being used to intimidate inmates.
By letters from 9 October 2005 and 12 January 2006, the Greek authorities informed the Committee
that 'Sworn Administrative Examinations' had been opened regarding the CPT' s findings of ill
treatment in Venna and Mytilini Special Holding Facilities for Aliens. The CPT was looking
forward to receiving information about the outcome of these examinations, reminding Greek
authorities of the Committee' s recommendation regarding cases of ill treatment: A special
awareness to ensure the application of a law enforcement policy, aiming at stamping out all forms
of ill treatment. This includes not only the adoption of appropriate laws, but also its serious
application in practice.68
The Greek authorities did not mention the allegations of ill treatment made by the CPT.

The material conditions of the Special Holding Facilities in Peplos, Mytilini, Chios and Venna
were described by the delegation as at least unsatisfying.
In detail:
Peplos is a former industrial warehouse complex with an official capacity of 70 persons. At the time
of the delegation' s visit the number of detainees was 128. The facilities were very dirty, without a
working heating system and with broken windows. Because of its bad state of repair, only one
shower could be used and there was no warm water. Blankets and mattresses were dirty and bug
infested, due to overcrowding, some of the inmates had to sleep next to the leaking toilets or
showers, while others didn't even have a mattress at all. During the day, detainees were allowed
only to spend very little time outside their cells, approximately less than an hour per day. 69
Regarding the hygienic situation the delegation was told by the authorities that the inmates
themselves were responsible for keeping their living area clean, while there was partly even a total
lack of hygienic articles like detergents, toothpaste or toothbrushes. For example, inmates were
68 CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraphs 58, 16, 17
69 CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 60

29

forced to share even toothbrushes, an unacceptable situation regarding the risk of transmissible
diseases like HIV. Also, clothes and shoes were not being provided by state authorities, but charity
organisations, on an irregular basis.

Mytilini, also a former industrial complex, had a capacity of 200. The number of detainees was
varying, holding 588 at 1 January 2005, 602 in the middle of the same month and 437 on 31
January 2005. At the time of the delegation' s visit the number of inmates was only 112. Male
detainees were held in 4 large concrete facilities, which were in a bad state of repair and very dirty.
Like in Peplos, the delegation found broken windows and no working heating device. Also, the
sanitary installations were defect. Female detainees were kept in 2 dormitories, which were in a
good state of repair, but out of sight and hearing of the guards. Further on there were no call bells
installed. The state of mattresses and blankets provided to male and female detainees was as bad as
at Peplos and there was hardly any possibility to spend time outside the cells. Since it was seen as
the inmates' s job to keep their living space clean, due to a steady shortage of detergents and other
cleaning products, the sanitary installations were filthy. Finally, the CPT found that detainees were
lacking clothing. Some detainees even had to share one pair of shoes, clearly a result of the current
policy that only private organisations were providing clothing and shoes from time to time.
Due to the situation found at Peplos and Mytilini the delegation felt the need to act according to
Article 8 (5) of the Convention.70
The Greek authorities answered in 2 letters from 9 November 2005 and 12 January 2006, saying
that at Peplos, the heating device, the broken windows and the toilets had been repaired as
requested. Still, there was no information regarding Mytilini.

The situation at Venna was better than at Peplos and Mytilini. The Centre with a capacity of 400
held 92 people at the time of the delegation' s visit. The facilities for men consisted of 6 containers,
adjacent to an outdoor exercise yard. Still, the detainees were kept in their cells for several days in a
row without a possibility to use the outdoor yard. The separate building for female detainees had an
outdoor exercise yard too, but the detainees were allowed to use it only when female guards were
present. Also, there was no warm water.

70 If necessary, the Committee may immediately communicate observations to the competent authorities of the Party
concerned.

30

Chios Temporary Reception Centre consisted of 12 furnished containers, each divided into 3 small
rooms as living area, a toilet and a shower. The centre was planned for a maximum capacity of 120,
holding 127 people at the time of the delegation' s visit. The material and hygienic situation
appeared to be acceptable, but detainees claimed that there was too little and too bad food.
Sometimes there was also no drinking water available.

The CPT called the Greek authorities to improve the situation at each of the 4 visited Centres of
Detention, so they would meet the basic material standards for Irregular Migrants in Detention,
regarding hygiene, clothing, footwear, food and clean water.

In its response the government of Greece answered to the recommendations made by the CPT about
Mytilini, saying that all repair jobs regarding broken windows, sanitary installations and the
heating system were being carried out under the authority of the Prefecture Administration of
Lesbos. Clean bedding had also been taken care of.71
The recommendations for the Holding Centres of Chios, Venna and Peplos were not being
mentioned.

Great deficits had to be noted by the delegation regarding the Health Care Regime in the holding
centres visited. In the four centres, only at Venna there were a doctor and a nurse employed on a full
time basis. In Mytilini, Chios and Peplos, medical staff only visited the facilities 2 times a week for
a few hours.
Medical staff in the delegation found various inmates suffering from skin diseases, tooth ache and
other injuries.. Having in mind the high number of detained people in the different Centres, the
number of medical staff, attaining these people, was far too low.72
Also, the delegation was very worried about the fact, that a general regime of medical examination
of irregular migrants, when getting into custody of state authorities, was missing. The example of a
border guard at Evros, who fell ill of a transmissible disease shows the urgency of this problem.
With this policy, state authorities are putting at risk not only the health of their executive personnel,
but of the civil society as a whole, not to speak of the irregular migrants.

71 CPT/Inf (2006) 42, page 16


72 CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 65

31

Finally, not one of the 4 centres visited was maintaining a regime of ongoing medical files about the
single detainees. Instead, doctors were putting down their medical findings in personal note books,
making an effective treatment of detainees impossible.
The CPT called the Greek state authorities to take their medical recommendations seriously and to
implement as soon as possible the changes needed.
The Government' s response did not go into the CPT' s recommendations regarding the Health Care
Regime in the Holding Centres visited.

A regime, like it is recommended in the Standards, set by the CPT, could not be found in any of the
establishments visited in Greece. There was no reading material, functioning television sets or any
kind of organized activities.

Regarding other Safeguards, the CPT' s attention was called by leaflets, informing the single inmate
about his rights, since in none of the leaflets there could be found the right to apply for
asylum. On the contrary, the delegation was explained various times that an immigrant could only
apply for asylum before reaching a special holding facility, although the Greek authorities had
assured, that the application for asylum would be possible from within the centres too.
In their response, the Greek authorities reassured that the application for asylum was possible not
only before reaching a special holding centre for irregular migrants, but at any time during his or
her stay on Greek soil. Regarding appeals against negative decisions, a regime of time limits had to
be respected: Within 30 days in case of a normal procedure, within 10 days in case of a speedy
process, within 5 days, if the applicant is in a transit hall of an airport, having been denied
entrance.

At Chios and Mytilini detainees had access to a telephone, but not in Venna and Peplos. Finally,
numerous complaints were made that non governmental organizations would be impeded the
access to the Holding Centres by state authorities.
Regarding these safeguards the CPT asked the state authorities of Greece for further information.
The Greek authorities answered that card-phones had been installed at Chios, Mytilini and Venna.

32

Finally, talking about the special holding centres for Aliens, the CPT referred to the staff at these
Centres: The number of personnel on duty in the four Holding Centres was completely inadequate.
At Mytilini and Chios a shift consisted of 2 police officers (with official capacities of 200 and 120
immigrants). At Peplos the number of officers on duty per shift was 5 (with a Centre's capacity of
128 immigrants).
Besides, the officers at work were regular police officers or border guards, which meant that they
had not been provided with any kind of special training to cope with the difficult tasks they were
confronted with: A great number of people from different countries with differing cultural
backgrounds and native languages. The border guards had not even received the basic training for
custodial duties. At two of the centres visited, the language barrier became explicitly noticeable, as
members of the delegation were contacted directly by detainees which asked for the possibility of a
voluntary return to their countries of origin.
The CPT explicitly recommended that the holding centres for aliens were staffed with an adequate
number of well trained staff, which were able to meet the special requirements of that job.
In their response Greek authorities did not refer to the CPT' s recommendations regarding the
staffing of the Centres of detention.

C1b) Visit 20/02/2007 27/02/2007

According to paragraph 7 (1) of the Convention73, the CPT returned to Greece in February 2007.
Before going into detail, the report talks about the facts that many recommendations made by the
CPT in its last report in 2005, had already been included in earlier reports, like the apparent absence
of consequences for executive personnel in the case of allegations of ill treatment.
Like in the report of 2005, the Greek authorities were informed that in case the CPT' s
recommendations were not put into practice, the Commission would have to take action according
to Art 10 (2) of the Convention.74
Since 25 recommendations of the 2005 report remained without response, on December 18, 2006,
the president of the CPT, Silvia Casale, sent a letter to the permanent representative of Greece,
73 Art 7 (1): The Committee shall organise visits to places referred to in Article 2. Apart from periodic visits, the
Committee may organise such other visits as appear to it to be required in the circumstances.
74 Art 10 (2): If the Party fails to co-operate or refuses to improve the situation in the light of the Committee's
recommendations, the Committee may decide, after the Party has had an opportunity to make known its views, by a
majority of two-thirds of its members to make a public statement on the matter.

33

asking for further information.


Regarding police establishments the president was criticising, that most recommendations for
safeguards against ill treatment in police custody remained unmentioned in the Greek
Government' s response.
The Greek authorities' s response to the CPT' s recommendations regarding foreigner holding
centres was also mentioned in the letter: The contradictory explanations given by Greek authorities
and Thrace Medical Forensic service regarding the cases of alleged ill treatment in Venna Special
Holding Centre were not put in question in the Government' s response the delegation' s concerns
were completely ignored. Besides calling attention to this incident, the president asked for further
information on newly planned special holding centres for immigrants, which had been mentioned in
the response to the 2005 report, meeting the special needs of irregular migrants in detention.
Until 8th of February, 2008, when the report about CPT' s visit from 20/2/2007 27/2/2007 was
finished, no response had been received, except for a letter from the Greek minister of Justice,
answering to some other of the CPT' s recommendations from the 2005 visit.
In their response from 8th of February 2008, the Greek authorities made reference to the letter of the
president of the CPT, saying that since there had been no time limit for answering the letter and
since high level talks between the Greek authorities and representatives of the CPT were about to
be held in February 2007, the content of this very letter was understood as agenda for this meeting.

During the 2007 visit, the delegation was granted immediate access to the establishments visited,
ending with constructive consultations with the Minister and the Secretary General of Public
Order, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice, the Director General of the Prison Service
and other senior officials of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Justice and Public Order.

Although the cooperation with state officials was qualified as good, the case of a possible victim
of ill treatment, detained at Omonia Police Station, called the attention of the CPT: The man was
threatened with his immediate deportation by the Commander of the Station in case he wouldn't tell
the delegation that he no longer wanted to see a doctor.
In the response to the report, the Greek authorities argued that since the delegation' s visit
happened without prior notice, and the delegation' s conversation with the detainees took place
34

without the commander of the station present at the time of the interview, there had been no
possibility that the commander could have threatened the detainee.

The death of a detained person in police custody - also at Omonia police station raised the
delegation' s attention. When members of the CPT wanted to look into the files regarding the death
of the inmate, the same Commander of the station removed certain papers from the file. These
incidents had to be called a clear breach of Art 3 75 and Art 8 (2d)76 of the Convention. Following
these incidents, the CPT called the Government of Greece to make it's law enforcement officials
fully aware of of the obligations of the parties to the Convention.77
The Greek authorities had a different point of view: According to the Government' s response the
Commander of the police station was offering all relevant documents about the detainee who had
died in custody. When the president of the delegation asked to see also the Commander's personal
documents regarding the case, the Commander requested to write down the controversial
documents in order to be proved - assured that none of the documents was concealed; however, the
delegation's members denied the official notation and made do with improvised notes.78

The CPT felt the need to call the Greek Government' s attention to the Commission' s impression,
that there seems to be no office in any Ministry of Greece, holding the responsibility to maintain
steady contact with the CPT. Instead, officials seemed to be appointed for each visit, holding this
post only for short terms, which makes an ongoing, constructive cooperation impossible.
Regarding this topic, the Greek authorities answered that the relevant office is the D3 department
at the Greek ministry for foreign affairs, which is responsible for OSCE and Council of Europe
affairs.

Various allegations of torture and other kinds of ill treatment were found by the delegation during
it' s visit:
75 In the application of this Convention, the Committee and the competent national authorities of the Party concerned
shall co-operate with each other.
76 Art 8 (2): A Party shall provide the Committee with the following facilities to carry out its task: (d): other
information available to the Party which is necessary for the Committee to carry out its task. In seeking such
information, the Committee shall have regard to applicable rules of national law and professional ethics.
77 CPT/Inf (2008) 3, paragraph 7
78 CPT/Inf (2008) 4, paragraph 2 e

35

A detained person at Alexandroupoli police station said, that he had received several punches to his
body and head by police officers. Further on his trousers were pulled down, followed by threats of
an Officer to rape him. The situation came to a halt with a Senior Officer's intervention after loud
protesting of the detainee, but beatings continued after this Senior Officer had left the room again.
In an other case an employee of the Greek police told the delegation of him witnessing how a
foreign detainee had been beaten by Police Officials. When a few days later he accompanied this
very detainee to court, neither the judge, nor the detainee' s lawyer made any comments on the
visible injuries of the detained person.
Regarding the CPT' s finding at Alexandropouli, the Government responded: By virtue of an order
of the Head of the Administrative Support Branch, the Police Division of Alexandroupoli was
ordered to investigate the accusations about a foreign detainee' s assault at the Police Station of
Alexandroupoli. The case is still pending. It stays unclear, to which of the cases this response is
referring to.

These and several other cases made the CPT repeat with urgency, what it had already requested
from Greek authorities in it' s visit reports in 2005 and before: A thorough and determined policy to
fight ill treatment of people in police custody.
In detail, this means that whenever a case of alleged ill treatment is coming to light, the case has
to be investigated properly. Judges and prosecutors have to have a close eye on signs of torture and
ill treatment and request medical examinations whenever necessary.
As a second step it is indispensable, that a member of state authority, who has tortured a person in
state custody, faces harsh consequences for his actions.
A climate of impunity for these officials would impede any positive effect of Greece' s campaign to
stamp out ill treatment, committed by state authorities.

Further on, the delegation found various cases of persons in detention, who claimed to have been
beaten in custody showing clear signs of these beatings. Still, without the intervention of the
delegation' s doctors, there wouldn't have happened a medical examination, nor a documentation of
these allegations, not to speak of a medical treatment of the injuries, by Greek authorities.
The case of a Bangladeshi national at Petru Rali detention centre could be named an alarming
example: When the delegation' s doctors examined the person, various injuries could be found,
36

giving great credibility to the detainee' s telling of having been ill treated by police officers at
Athens International Airport, when refusing to be deported. The delegation requested his immediate
treatment at a hospital, but when returning to see the detainee two days later, they had to learn that
the detainee still remained without treatment, after 3 doctors at the hospital had examined the
detainee, concluding that the patient showed no injuries at all.79
Again, the delegation insisted that the detainee was being sent to a hospital for treatment. This time
the delegation accompanied the person to the hospital and during the examinations by 4 different
doctors, which this time came to the unanimous conclusion, that the Bangladeshi national showed
injuries, which were giving great credibility to the allegations of ill treatment.
Like in previous visits, the delegation had to experience that in Greece, a presumed victim of ill
treatment apparently had very little chance of receiving the necessary medical treatment for his
injuries, since in the current case the delegation had to intervene even two times to achieve a normal
medical treatment for the detainee. The report of the CPT is even telling about a police officer,
trying to influence a doctor during the examination of the detainee, even though members of the
delegation were present in the same room.
Since things like that had already been to be experienced by the delegation in previous visits, the
CPT recommended, that the Greek authorities take appropriate steps to ensure that threats and
intimidations by the police never impede access to medical care.80
Greek authorities did not leave uncommented the CPT' s report regarding the treatment of the
Bangladeshi national:
Greek state authorities in their investigation came to the result that the injuries, which the detainee
showed, probably had been caused by himself falling down twice at the airport, when he was
refusing to get on the plane, or by something else, but not by the accompanying officers.
The second detainee who was about to be expelled on the same day at the airport, M.T. from
Tunisia, and also the spokesperson of the airline company Gulf Air, C.P, witnessed no violence
being executed by the policemen against the Bangladeshi national, S.G.
Also, the Greek investigators argued that since the policemen accompanying a detainee, who' s
about to be expelled, do not face any consequences in case the procedure fails, there was no reason
for the officers to behave in a hostile way towards the detainee.
Because of the above, no responsibility for neither the two Police Officers, or for any other
79 CPT/Inf (2008) 3, paragraph 14, 18
80 CPT/Inf (2008) 3, paragraph 18

37

policeman came up, the competent decisive body, that tried the case, put it in the records, from a
disciplinary point of view.81

Also, like in previous reports, the CPT had to call the Greek authorities' s attention to the fact that
still, when a detainee claimed to have been ill treated by state officials, a detailed medical
examination, alongside a documentation of the detainee' s allegations, was not implemented as a
normal procedure. Whenever medical personnel found injuries, consistent with allegations of ill
treatment or torture, the relevant prosecutor should be informed, for an immediate, close
investigation of the case.

Regarding the material conditions at Police and Border Guard Stations, the CPT report
concluded the following:
After visiting 11 police stations in the Attica and Evros region, the conditions at only 3 of them
namely at Akropolis, Kolonas, Palio Falio could be called generally satisfactory, except for the
existence of two small holding cells at Akropolis, which had no access at all to natural or artificial
light and which were also not equipped for overnight stays.
The Greek side responded, that the necessary enhancement work had already been made the two
cells are having access to natural light now, artificial light and the proper furniture for overnight
stays had been made available too.

The cells of 4 Police Stations Aspropyrgos, Orestiades, Neo Kosmos and Syntagma had no
artificial lighting and only little natural light. Further on, the ventilation was extremely poor and
mattresses needed to be changed urgently, like it was the case in Zografas, too.
The Greek side commented that the Police Station of Neo Kosmos was in a good state, artificial
light was available and bed covers were being changed regularly.
Although the detention area of Syntagma was situated at the basement of a building, the ventilation
and lighting was qualified as quite good by the Greek Authorities. Due to negative reactions by
neighbouring residents, egress to the courtyard could only be made possible for persons who were
already in detention for longer periods.
Regarding Zografas, the mattresses which were in a bad condition had already been removed, an
81 CPT/Inf (2008) 4, paragraph 2d, (10d)

38

oil painting of the detention areas had been ordered.

Regarding Aghios Panteilemonos police station, the delegation only learned from detainees at other
police stations about the existence of a 10 square meter cell, located at the 3rd floor of the building,
which was filthy, with hardly any ventilation, furnished with only two chairs. After checking the
registers, the CPT had proof that up to 6 persons were being kept in this cell - sometimes overnight.
The delegation found this place not suitable for overnight stays. The cell needed improvement
urgently, to make acceptable short term stays during daytime.
The Greek authorities answered, that the holding cell on the 3 rd floor was part of the Panteleimonos
Security Station, separated from the Panteleimonos police station, which only has 3 cells on the 1 st
floor and one at the basement of the building. In the security station' s cells suspects are only being
kept for the time of preliminary investigations, while the detention of a person exclusively takes
place in the cells of Panteleimonos police station.
The case of overcrowding, which had been reported by the CPT, could not be verified according to
the official files. The records tell only about one detained person at the time of the delegation' s
visit.

The situation at Omonia and Alexandroupoli Police Station had not improved significantly since
the delegation' s last visit in 2005. Both facilities were dirty and regularly overcrowded. Poor
ventilation and a lack of natural and artificial lighting made the situation even worse.
According to the Government' s response the Omonia police station was situated at a newly built
seven floor building with a total capacity of 34. Natural and artificial lighting besides air
conditioning were available, the detention area was being cleaned on a daily basis. Overcrowding
especially during the night - was happening because of the regional peculiarities of the Omonia
area.

When visiting Greek border guard stations, the delegation found detainees forced to live in
conditions, which could be qualified as inhuman and degrading. Going into detail, at Kiprinos
station, the problem of overcrowding was alarming. In a cell with 7 square meters, 5 people had
been forced to stay for over 40 days. In another cell of 14 square meters, 10 detainees were being
held.
39

The lack of natural light and proper ventilation - besides the fact that detainees were forced to sleep
on dirty and dilapidated mattresses and blankets - and the fact that there was given hardly any
opportunity for outdoor exercise, made the impression to the delegation even more alarming.

The situation at the stations of Isaakio and Neo Himoni was better, compared to Kiprinos, in the
light of occupancy rates. But regarding hygiene, ventilation, natural light and outdoor exercises,
these 2 stations showed similar deficiencies.82

As a reaction to the situation found at Greek police and border guard stations, the CPT called the
Greek Authorities' s attention to the fact that the stations visited were completely inappropriate for
the detainment of persons for prolonged terms. Besides that these facilities needed refurbishment
and repair, the occupancy rates were exceeding by far the recommended 4 square meters/person.
The implementation of a regime of daily outdoor exercises next to purposeful activities is a long
term recommendation by the CPT.
Besides the fact that this recommendation still had not been implemented in the Greek policy, the
CPT had to find even more glaring deficiencies, like an alarming hygienic situation: Not every
detainee was provided his own mattress; poor ventilation and lighting were common, years after the
CPT had urged improvement of this very situation.
According to the government's response, the border guard stations of Isaakio, Neo Himoni and
Kiprinos are no longer in use for the detainment of irregular migrants. Since the opening of a new
special residence for aliens at the guard house of Kiprinos, with a capacity of 398, all irregular
migrants are being sent there.

The holding facilities for aliens, which the delegation visited in 2007, shared the same deficiencies:
A lack of coordination between the competent state authorities and a still missing regime of
operating standards. Both had already been noted and criticized in former reports.
In detail, the delegation made follow up visits at Venna and Mytilini. Further on it visited Centres
in the Attica Region ( Aspropyrgos, Piraeus, Petru Rali ) and the Evros Region ( Filakio, Vrissika,
Neo Visa ).

82 CPT/Inf (2008) 3, paragraph 25

40

Since a new centre for administrative detention had been built in Filakio which was to be opened in
the end of 2007, the delegation took the chance to visit this facility and had to find out that the CPT'
s recommendations regarding the necessities of a centre of administrative detention for aliens had
been widely ignored again. Filakio is a prison like centre with a capacity of 380 men, women and
children. The interior shows rows of cells, giving no privacy nor rooms for any communal
activities. At full capacity, every detainee will only have 2 square meters of personal space, far
below the official CPT' s recommendation of 4 square meters.
The new centre of Filakio is running a great risk of developing the same problems which were
found at Petru Rali. Although the CPT had shown serious concern regarding the design of this
centre, which had been opened in 2005, the Greek authorities appeared to have widely ignored
thesm. The results of this policy showed in 2007:
The situation of detainees at Petru Rali had become a miserable one. Since there were no communal
spaces and the exercise yard of the centre had been qualified as insecure by authorities, detainees
were forced to spend all day in their cells. Some juvenile detainees had no mattress or plinth and
newly arriving detainees weren't even provided with clean sheets. Due to the lack of call bells in the
cells, detainees were forced to urinate in bottles and defecate in plastic bags.
Regarding the delegation' s comments on the situation at Petru Rali, the Greek authorities
contested that the technical preparations for a secure use of the courtyards was already being
undertaken.
A library, providing reading material in different languages was about to be opened.
In the visiting area, the metal grille, which had been criticized by the CPT after it's last visit, had
already been replaced by an unbreakable glass.
Some juvenile detainees had to lie on mattresses on the floor, because 9 of the 20 cells at the
juvenile detention area had no access to natural light and because of this were not being used for
the detainment of juveniles. Instead, all other 11 cells were provided with an extra mattress, where,
in the case of need, juveniles would stay for short periods of time.
To improve the hygienic situation, professional washing machines and dryers had been installed at
Petru Rali and decontamination of the detention areas is being undertaken by a private company on
a regular basis.
The problem of the bad quality of the floor at the centre has been encountered by overlaying it with
an epoxy material.

41

An installation of call bells in every cell was qualified as unnecessary, since there is a guard at
every floor - 24 hours a day - who is able to provide access to the toilets, whenever necessary. Also,
an excessive use of the call bells, in case they were installed at every cell, was expected by the
Greek authorities.
Since 5/2/2007 a surgery has been opened at the Holding Centre for the preventive examination of
asylum seekers. Besides, the organization Medical Intervention, as well as many other NGOs,
has free access to the detention centre and is regularly operating with two general practitioners, a
cardiologist, a surgeon, a psychiatrist, four psychologists, a social worker, two nurses and a
coordinator.

The Piraeus holding centre for aliens was at a deplorable state. The facility was dirty, mattresses
were filthy and there was hardly any natural or artificial light. The provision of articles of personal
hygiene was inadequate, the toilets were dirty and in need of repair.
Outdoor exercise was never being offered, nor any communal activities, not to speak of a provision
of newspapers or other reading material, TV or radio.
The bad situation at Piraeus holding centre was acknowledged by the Greek authorities. As an
attempt to improve things, the CPT was informed about various measures being undertaken:
The setting of a new insulation to fight humidity in the building was about to be started;
New desks and a fridge had been put and old lamps have been replaced with new ones;
Two new ventilators have been installed to improve ventilation, damages at the hydraulic
substructure of the building were to be repaired. Until finishing these repairs, the number of
detainees was limited to 30. To achieve more natural light, the present sky lights (windows) were
to be replaced and the task of improvement of the hygienic situation has been given into to hands of
a private cleaning company.

The Centre of Vrissika, with an official capacity of 90, was holding 106 detainees at the time of the
visit. The place was extremely dirty, rotting food and dirty clothes on the floor. Only some of the
toilets were functioning, natural and artificial lighting as well as the provision of products of
personal hygiene were inadequate. Outdoor exercise was hardly ever being offered.
According to the Government' s response, the holding centre of Vrissika is not operating any more.

42

Since the opening of a special residence for aliens at the guard house of Kiprinos, with a
capacity of 398, all irregular migrants are being sent there.

Aspropyrgos special holding scentre for aliens is a facility with an official maximum capacity of
110 persons in 8 large cells, giving less than 3 square meters to each detainee. The hygienic
situation at this centre was bad, there was little natural and artificial light and hardly any ventilation.
Access to the toilets was limited to 3 designated times per day and so the detainees had to use
bottles during the night. Neither outdoor exercise, nor any communal activities were ever offered.
Regarding the holding centre Aspropyrgos, the government' s response reported that the
amplification of artificial lighting was being achieved by the replacement of existing lights, a
private company was responsible for cleaning up the common areas of the detention centre.

At the holding centre of Venna, the detainees' s situation had not changed compared to the last visit.
The Greek Government reports of the following improvements made at Venna:
With the installation of bigger windows, more natural light was entering the detention areas;
artificial lighting during the night hours is being provided, too. The cells are being washed every 15
days, bed sheets almost every two months. A heating system has been installed in every cell,
working all night long during winter time, at daytime when considered necessary.Every detained
person is provided his own bed, mattress, a pillow and two or three blankets for the winter time. In
case a detainee lacks clothing, a uniform and underwear are provided. Phones have been installed
so that detainees can reach their families or lawyer.

At Mytilini the situation had improved significantly. A new policy was in practice, detaining
irregular migrants only for about a week for the reason of processing and releasing them
immediately afterwards. It now consisted of one facility which was in good state of repair and well
equipped. All other facilities, formerly used for the detainment of migrants, were not in use any
more.
According to the Greek authorities, thanks to a recently undertaken renovation of the holding centre
at Mytilini, all recommendations, made by the CPT for this centre of detention, are being met.

43

Regarding the holding centres for aliens, the CPT had to learn that the great majority of it' s
recommendations - with the exception of Mytilini - had been completely ignored by the Greek
administration again.

The basic requirements regarding the detention of people still had not been met by the Greek state,
forcing the CPT to reiterate it's recommendations, so that
every detainee was provided his own bed or plinth
each detainee was provided a personal space of 4 square meters
toilets and showers were repaired and that each detainee was provided free access to these
facilities
each detainee was allowed an hour per day of outdoor exercise and most of the day outside
the cells
detainees were provided the necessary amount of cleaning products to be able to keep clean
their living space as well as products of personal hygiene, like soap and tooth paste for their
personal hygiene
a regime offering activities during the day as well as the provision of reading material, a
radio or games
the staffing of the different installations would be provided a special training making them
fit for the difficult and various duties they have to meet at these centres of administrative
detention for aliens83
the provision of a regular health care service at every holding centre for aliens84

The safeguards against ill treatment, which are being guaranteed by the three basic rights of
every person in detention, namely
the right to have access to a lawyer
the right to have access to a medical doctor
the right of a detainee to inform a close relative or another third person of his choice about
83 The staffing numbers were not only far too low, but also interaction between detainees and staff was usually limited
to measures of security like head counts
84 Only at Mytilini and in the Evros Region each person was being medically screened at the beginning of
administrative detention. CPT/Inf (2008) 3, paragraph 35

44

his situation,
as well as being informed about these rights, do not appear to be effective in practice 85,
according to the CPT.
In several cases, access to a lawyer was delayed for more than 24 hours, or even until going to
court. Also, a number of detainees informed the CPT that they had not been allowed to inform a
third person about their situation.

The right to see a doctor also appeared to be guaranteed only formally in Greece. As an example,
the delegation met a person at Omonia police station, who had been denied to see a doctor since he
stated that his difficulties with breathing had been caused by a kick to the stomach by a police
officer during interrogation.
A detainee' s request to see a doctor should be immediately met by the authorities, the medical
examination should take place out of sight and hearing of an officer.
The formal recording of the examination must be available to the detainee and his lawyer and
necessary medication should be provided free of charge, in case the patient is unable to pay for it.

The delegation got the information about the death in custody of an Iranian detainee on 5 February
2007. According to several other detainees, the delegation could talk to about this case, the man,
who was apparently suffering from drug withdrawal symptoms, had been screaming in pain for
several hours, but was denied medical assistance. The medical investigation came to the result that
the cause of death had been peritonitis, caused by a duodenal ulcer, which makes it highly probable
that the patient had suffered from horrible pain for several hours. Proper medication would at least
have minimized the pain.
The CPT asked the Greek authorities for further information regarding this case a copy of the
autopsy report and the conclusions of the medical investigation, in case there were any.
This case makes it clear, how important it is to a state, to apply the safeguards against ill
treatment, proposed by the CPT.
The right to a doctor, together with a general application of custody records on every detainee in
every place of detention in Greece, would most probably have saved the life of that person.
85 CPT/Inf (2008) 3, paragraph 37

45

Exact, individualized custody records are still not to be found at every place of detention: For
example, at the border guard stations of Isaakio, Kiprinos, Neo Himoni and Neo Visa, the guards
did not have regular access to relevant information of the detainees. At Neo Visa the guards didn:t
even know how many detainees there were in their custody!
Such a situation is a serious threat to the health of the single detainee.
Finally, the CPT had to repeat it's request that the Greek authorities would finally follow the long
standing recommendation of the CPT, to provide legal information for the detainees in appropriate
languages, which can be understood by the detainees at the beginning of state custody.

The CPT was welcoming the upcoming discussion in Greece about an independent body making
regular, unannounced visits to the different places of detention in Greece, asking for information
about the outcome, regarding this topic.

C1c) Visit 23/09/2008 29/09/2008

In 2008, the CPT returned to Greece, applying Art 7 (1) of the Convention. 86 Like during it' s
previous visits in 2005 and 2007, the delegation expressed it's concern regarding the still existing
risk for irregular migrants to become victims of ill treatment in custody of Greek authorities.

The cooperation with the Greek state officials during the visit was qualified as very good. Still,
the delegation like in every previous report regarding Greece - mentioned the possibility to
improve the cooperation with Greece by the foundation of a separate department, responsible for
the cooperation between CPT and Greece.

All the reports of the last years had always had to claim that persons in Greek police custody were
running a serious risk of being ill treated. Though the situation had not changed too much until the
visit of 2008, the CPT could report of an instruction 87 by the chief Prosecutor of the Court of
Cassation, ordering prosecutors to start an investigation every time a case of ill treatment could
86 Apart from periodic visits, the Committee may organise such other visits as appear to it to be required in the
circumstances.
87 Prot No: 2294/ circ. 6, referring to circular Prot. No. 2834/cir.4/31.10.2002, from 4 june 2008

46

have taken place.


Although this very instruction could be qualified as an important proof for the good will of the
Greek authorities to meet the CPT' s recommendations, many cases of ill treatment, which had
taken place years ago, had still not been investigated properly.88
Also, the long standing recommendation by the Committee, to install an independent authority with
the duty of controlling detention facilities on a regular basis, has not been met.89
In their response, the Greek authorities claimed that the CPT was using individual cases of ill
treatment, creating an unfavourable picture of Greece - without proper investigation of the cases.
Greek authorities pointed out that hellenic police headquarters paid special attention to human
rights. The inspection of detention facilities by the hellenic Ombudsman would not be opposed
by the Greek police.
Still, from a legal point of view, the establishment of an independent authority for the investigation
of the above mentioned complaints was not necessary, because the existing procedures and the
instruments involved were covering sufficiently the awarding of disciplinary justice.90

Regarding other safeguards against ill treatment, such as the right to contact a lawyer or the right
to be informed about his/her rights in a proper language, no real improvements in comparison to
previous visits could be noticed. Going into detail, the delegation stressed that many detainees had
been met who claimed that they had not been allowed to contact a lawyer or a close relative. Also,
many complained of not having been informed about their rights in a language they could
understand.
According to the Greek authorities, there was no obstruction of communication between detainees
and relatives or lawyers. In fact, staff was usually even facilitating this communication. Regarding
the information about the detainee 's rights in detention, Greek authorities argued that the
delegation had not been informed correctly, since the police authorities were giving leaflets about
the detainee' s rights, translated in 14 languages.

The Greek authorities also continued to take away the mobile phones of all irregular migrants in
88 In one case, described in paragraph 80 of CPT/ Inf (2006) 41, the prosecutor had not yet obtained a statement
from the alleged perpetrator.
89 See CPT Inf (2001) 31, paragraph 22; CPT Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 21; and CPT Inf (2008) 3, paragraph 44.
90 See CPT/Inf (2009) 21, Point 17, page 24.

47

every detention centre, by this practise impeding the calling of a lawyer or a close relative.
The CPT recommends the Greek authorities to reconsider this practice, having in mind that the
individual irregular migrant wasn't even a criminal suspect.
To facilitate communication between the detainees and their lawyers and relatives, card phones
have been installed in every police department and holding facility for immigrants, with protection
of the confidentiality and without any time limit. The few detainees who possessed card phones
when arriving, would give them to the guards voluntarily when the card was finished. Further on it
was not true that irregular migrants were detained without even a suspicion of a criminal offence,
since it was proven that these people had entered Greece illegally.

At the border guard stations of Alexandroupoli and Orestiada, the custody records did not
correspond with the persons actually detained an unacceptable situation.
The custodial files of a detainee stayed with the department who had arrested him in the first place.
If the detainee is transferred to another detention centre, he is only accompanied by his medical
file.

Since irregular migrants are forced to stay in police and border guard stations for prolonged periods,
the practice of sending an apparently ill person to a hospital for treatment can not be seen as an
acceptable application of access to a doctor.
A system where doctors visit the different police and border guard stations on a regular basis for the
medical examination of the inmates, has not been installed, despite the long standing
recommendation by the CPT. The fact that in many of these detention sites, detained persons suffer
from contagious skin diseases, is underlining the necessity of such a reform.
Newly arriving detainees are being examined for HIV, Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and C, Skin
diseases etc. by medical personnel located at the detention centre. In case there is no medical
personnel employed on a regular basis at this very detention centre, the staff who arrested the
detainee brings him to the nearest health centre or hospital. Temporary detention facilities are
visited regularly by mobile units performing thorax examinations. The special holding centres for
irregular migrants are served by permanent medical staff: doctors, nurses, psychologists and
social workers. If no psychologists and social workers are employed at the very detention centre,
help is being provided by the nearest mental health centre. Additionally, the holding facilities for
48

irregular migrants receive support by NGOs like Medecins sans Frontieres or Medecins du
Monde.91

The delegation visited 11 police stations in Greece, 4 of them in Athens. Further on, seven border
guard stations in the prefectures of Alexandroupoli and Orestiada.
The material conditions at police and border guard stations in most cases had not improved at all
since the last year. In detail, none of the detention sites, which the CPT had visited in 2007, had
been improved in the way the Greek authorities had promised in their last Government' s response.
New holding centres for irregular migrants have been built, other centres have been improved:
Samos (capacity 300); the guarding department of the municipality of Kiprinos in the Evros region
(cap. 374); the centre for Reception and Hosting in Lakonia (cap. 42); new facilities have been
built.
Greece has proposed the financing of 11 contemporary facilities for receiving / hosting irregular
migrants and of 10 centres holding asylum seekers by the European Union (Funds for external
borders, Returns and Asylum).
The living conditions at already existing centres are constantly being improved.

Like in the years before, the delegation had to report about stations which were heavily
overcrowded. For example at Feres border guard station, 95 detainees had to share two cells of 49
square meters each.
An apparent lack of coordination between the different prefectures seems to have led to the
situation, that at Isaakio police station, only 50 kilometres away, all cells were found empty.
The reason for overcrowding at Ferres was maintenance / improvement works of the special
detention station of Peplos. Also, the execution of coordinated police operations led to increasing
numbers of arrests. The reason why at Isaakio police station all cells had been empty at the time of
the delegation's visit, was the fact that at this moment all detainees were being transferred to the
special holding facility in Filakio.

The lack of ventilation and little access to natural light like at Akropolis and Kypseli police
91 CPT/Inf (2009) 21, point 23

49

stations in Athens or also at Alexandroupoli police station - contributed to living conditions which
in several cases had to be qualified as unacceptable. The worst situation was found at Xanthi police
and border guard station, where the whole detention area was dirty, smelly and with hardly any
light.
The police department of Akropolis had been upgraded and repaired in spring 2007. Still, due to
the way the facility was constructed, hardly any natural light would enter the cells. Artificial
lighting, though, has been improved significantly. At Kypseli police station, outdoor exercise could
still not be provided, because of the protests of the neighbouring inhabitants. Also, far more
security staff would be needed. At Alexandroupolis, a new police building would be constructed,
meeting all the requirements of modern detention facilities.
Xanthi police and border guard station with a capacity of 35 detainees had a number of 70
detainees at the day of the delegation' s visit. Most of these 70 had been irregular migrants under
expulsion decision, about to leave the country. The detention facilities were cleaned daily and
painted and disinfected once every two months.92

The fact that many detention sites are overcrowded leads to the next problem: Still, many detainees
are forced to sleep on the floor, on dirty and lice infested mattresses and blankets 4 out of ten
minors at Metaxades border guard station showed signs of lice or flee bites on their skin.93
The 4 minors had been at Filakio special holding facility until the day before the delegation's visit.
According to Dr. Mrs. Gorniounova, a doctor at Filakio, 2 of the 4 minors had been suffering from
chicken-pox and infected the other 2 minors.

The ongoing phenomenon of mixing male and female detainees, as the delegation could find at
Ferres and Soufli border guard department, had to be criticized harshly by the CPT. The lack of
specific facilities for women led to a situation, endangering the security, hygiene and privacy of
female detainees.94
At Ferres, 4 female detainees had to share a cell with more than 40 men (4 of them were the
women's husbands) due to overcrowding in these days.
At Soufli, 3 women with their husbands had to share a cell together with other men because of
92 CPT/Inf (2009) 21, point 27
93 CPT/Inf (2009) 20, paragraph 29
94 CPT/Inf (2009) 20, paragraph 30

50

overcrowding due to maintenance work at Peplos since 10-05-2008.

Since almost none of the visited stations had an exercise site next to it' s detention facilities, the
prisoners were given no possibility to go outside. Where there was an exercise area available, like at
Ferres border guard station or Kypseli police station, the inmates hardly ever were allowed to use it
due to lack of security personnel or other reasons.95
At Ferres inmates are allowed to go outside, whenever our duties allow.

Toilets and washing rooms usually were dirty and in bad state of repair, like at Tychero border
guard station or Exarhia police station.
Regarding items of personal hygiene, at some detention sites, inmates were only given some soap,
at others some washing powder too. Other items like toothbrushes or shaving utensils had to be
bought by the detainee himself.
At Tychero, a cleaning employee is taking daily care of the detention area. The damages at the
toilets and the washing room are being caused by the detainees and repaired regularly. At Exarhia,
most detainees are foreigners and drug addicts, who often cause damages all damages, which had
been observed by the delegation, already have been repaired.

The CPT also reiterated it' s long standing recommendation to install call bells in the cells of
detention, finishing it's list of recommendations regarding police and border guard stations by
qualifying the living conditions at some of the visited stations, like at Xanthis police and border
guard station, as inhumane and degrading.96
After an investigation, the Attica Foreigners Directorate has decided that the installation of call
bells in the cells was not necessary. A border guard, stationed in every aisle of the facility, was able
to answer requests from the detainees 24 hours a day. Besides, an installation of call bells could
lead to an abusive use of these bells.

The delegation made follow up visits to the special holding facilities for irregular migrants of
Petrou Ralli, Aspropyrgos, Amygdaleza and Mytilini. The centres of Peplos and Vrissika were
95 CPT/Inf (2009) 20, paragraph 31
96 CPT/Inf (2009) 20, paragraph 34

51

closed at the time of the delegation' s visit.


The holding facilities of Peplos and Vrissika were not operating at the time of the delegation's visit
because they did not meet the requirements of a centre of detention. Still, when repair and
refurbishment work will be completed, these two centres of detention will be reopened.

At Petrou Ralli and Aspropyrgos, the facilities were not used at full capacity due to refurbishment.
Still, the delegation could see that some of it' s recommendations regarding these two centres would
not be met, even when renovation of the facilities would be finished: The Greek authorities still
refused to install call bells in the holding cells, which made access to the toilets very difficult during
night time. Outdoor exercise couldn't be offered at all at Aspropyrgos, although the holding centre
was surrounded by open area. At Petrou Ralli with it' s exercise yard on the roof, daily outdoor
exercise still hadn't been made possible. Blankets and mattresses at both centres were filthy.
Renovation work at Petrou Ralli has already been finished. The installation of call bells has been
qualified as unnecessary by the Greek authorities, since there is a guard, able to respond to the
detainees' requests 24 hours a day.
Every newly arriving detainee is provided clean sheets and if possible with a clean mattress.
Old mattresses are replaced by new ones when necessary.
After the delegation's visit the schedule for outdoor exercise for women and foreigners of a special
condition has been changed from 1 hour twice a week to an hour every day. The same improvement
is being planned for all other detained men too. At Aspropyrgos it is not possible to offer outdoor
exercise since the centre doesn't have an outdoor yard. Also, the construction of a yard is not
possible.

At Mytilini, the delegation had to find out that the situation had deteriorated since 2007: In the
facilities with a capacity of 300, the delegation found 720 people, crammed in their cells. Some 100
people were forced to share mattresses or even to sleep directly on the floor. The CPT had to qualify
the living conditions at Mytilini as health hazard for staff and detainees alike.97
The Greek authorities are aware of the problems at Mytilini. The improvement of the living
conditions is a constant struggle due to about 100 newly arriving migrants per day during the
summer months. In 2008 13112 irregular migrants and 8 smugglers were arrested at the detention
97 CPT/Inf (2009) 20, paragraph 40

52

centre.
Before their detainment at the Centre of Mytilini, every detainee is being examined medically at the
general hospital of Mytilini.

At Thessaloniki, living conditions would be acceptable, if it wasn't for the lack of beds. All migrants
had to sleep on dirty mattresses directly on the floor. Also, there was no yard, making outdoor
exercise impossible.
At the special facility for irregular migrants in Filakio, detainees were suffering from a lack of
living area due to the cells being crammed with beds. 98 Also, outdoor exercise was made possible
only for some 15 20 minutes per day. Still, the situation at Filakio could be qualified as a positive
example: Due to good coordination between police, prefecture and the region, Filakio appeared well
maintained, well suppllied with hygienic items and clean bedding.

Like in every report of the last years regarding Greece, the CPT felt the need to criticize that
irregular migrants were being treated like criminal suspects, sometimes even worse.
For example, there still does not exist an official regime99 regarding the living conditions, which had
to be provided to irregular migrants. For example, no standards have been set regarding measures in
case of disturbance or a breakdown of order, not to speak of guidelines regarding outdoor exercise,
recreation or other activities.

One of the main reasons for the fact, that a suitable regime was still missing could be the fact that
police holding facilities as well as the special facilities for irregular migrants are still provided with
far too little staff.100 For example, at Filakio 6 guards were responsible for 343 detainees. At
Mytilini there was 5 guards for 720 detainees. Logically, these guards can't fulfil more than basic
surveillance tasks.
The long standing recommendation of the CPT, to provide every irregular migrant with sufficient
food, including one cooked meal per day, still hadn't been met.
At Thessaloniki, every detainee had to buy his own food and water from the daily sum of 5.87
Euros which meant that many of them could not afford more than 2 sandwiches per day.
98 For instance, dormitory n 5, with a surface area of approximately 108 m, contained almost 80 beds.
99 As required by Art. 81 Aliens Law.
100See CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 71 and CPT/ Inf (2008) 3, paragraph 34.

53

Regarding medical care Greek authorities still hadn't met all recommendations by the CPT: The
delegation found insufficient medical staff at Petrou Ralli, Amygdaleza and Filakio at
Thessaloniki and Aspropyrgus there was no medical service attached at all.
Another important task regarding medical care at the holding centres is the pre - screening of
recently arrived migrants: Apart from testing for tuberculosis at Petrou Ralli, Orestiada, Mytilini
and Alexandroupoli, no tests for transmissible diseases was being made.
Also, the CPT requested more information regarding the fact that the NGO Medecins sans
Frontieres had left from Mytilini, apparently due to a lack of cooperation with the Greek
authorities.
The NGO Medecins sans Frontieres have left on their own will. Actually, members of the NGO
usually criticized the staff of the centre.

C1d) Visit 17/09/2009 29/09/2009

During it' s 9th overall visit to Greece, the delegation of the CPT met with a the Secretary General of
the Ministry of Justice, the Chief Prosecutor of the Court of Cassation, the Head of Penitentiary
Policy, the Greek Police Force and officials of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Health, Interior and
Justice.
Further on with the Greek Ombudsman and Deputy Ombudsman, representatives of UNHCR, the
Greek national Commission on Human Rights and representatives of several non governmental
organizations.
The level of cooperation, met by the delegation of the CPT, could be qualified as good. Also,
finally, the Greek authorities appeared to have implemented the long standing recommendation of
the CPT by appointing a liaison officer, who' d be especially responsible for maintaining steady
contact with the Committee. In it' s report the Committee expressed its hope that this action will
improve Greece' s ability to implement its recommendations.

Regarding the legal situation of irregular migrants in Greece the report is mentioning Law
3772/2009 (published on 10 July 2009), which extends the maximum time of detention of irregular
54

migrants from 3 to 6 months.

The situation regarding torture and other forms of ill treatment in Greece has to be qualified as
unchanged by the CPT.
Despite ongoing criticism, not only from the CPT but also from other national and international
bodies like the ECtHR101 the Greek authorities still do not seem to understand, that ill
treatment is a serious problem of the Greek police forces.
A credible, independent mechanism, which would investigate and prosecute cases of ill treatment,
is still lacking.
Finally, the CPT informs that it' s still receiving claims by persons who reported cases of ill
treatment, but who' s claims have been dismissed by the prosecutor or court without any further
investigation.

Like during previous visits, the delegation was confronted with various new cases of alleged ill
treatment of persons in police custody. Also, the CPT felt the need to ask for further information
regarding the process of investigation in older cases of alleged ill treatment.

In detail, the delegation reported of a case of a young detainee who claimed that he had been
threatened with rape by members of the Serres security police. He said that at the police station he
had been spread eagled against a wash basin with his shorts pulled down while a police officer
stood astride him and simulated having anal intercourse.102
Since the CPT was not able to provide detailed information regarding the exact place where these
101 For example:
- Makaratzis v. Greece (2004), where the Court found that the Greek Police had not carried out a proper investigation
into the basic facts of the incident.
- Celniku v Greece (2007), where the Court criticised the fact that an investigation into allegations of illtreatment was carried out by officers working in the same department as the incriminated officers;
- Zelilof v Greece (2007), where the Court questioned the quality and impartiality of the internal investigations
carried out by the Thessaloniki Internal Investigations Department after a citizen was injured by police bullets:
the internal police investigation relied on the statements made by the incriminated officers and the results of a
forensic medical investigation were not taken into account;
- Alsayed Allaham v Greece (2007), where the Court found that an ill-treatment complaint made by a citizen
against the police had not been properly investigated by the Prosecutor and Court;
- Petropoulu-Tsakiris v Greece (2008), where the Court found that no forensic-medical investigation had been
carried out into the injuries of the complainant and that the internal investigation had not been carried out
promptly (that is, 10 months after the complaint had been lodged).
102CPT/Inf (2010) 33, paraghaph 17

55

supposed acts of ill treatment took place, the Greek authorities were not able to investigate the
case. (The same conclusion was reached in Case 3, regarding ill treatment, in the CPT' s
report).
For that reason the CPT should consider eliminating this case from its report.

The delegation reported about 4 cases of alleged ill treatment. The cases 2 and 4 were not reported
to the Greek authorities immediately, because the claimants were afraid of acts of retaliation.
Case No 1 refers to a male person (D.P.) , which has been interviewed by the delegation. He
claimed that on 19/09/2009, he had been beaten by police officers. The medical examination
showed various injuries, consistent with the man' s allegations.
After taking in consideration all evidence and the testimonies of the 2 policemen and the alleged
victim of ill treatment, the sworn administrative investigation found, that the 2 policemen had
acted lawfully, considering D. P.' s reluctance to follow the policemen' s order to get into the police
car. The injuries of D.P., which had become treated at the forensic department of Patras, occurred
in the course of the fulfilment on their part of their lawful official duties, pursuant to Criminal Code
articles 20 and 22, following the apprehended drivers strong resistance and the fall of all parties
involved in the altercation on the rough ground, not on the floor of the police station premises.

As 'quite interesting' could be described the way, D.P. 's testimony was qualified by the
Investigators: P. of course claimed that he never showed contempt for the officers orders, that his
whole conduct vis-a-vis the officers was proper, that he simply tried to talk to his father on his
mobile phone and that suddenly the officers became violent against him without any reason,
attempting to handcuff him and that one of them used the handcuffs to hit him in the eye (his
assertions appear unsubstantiated since it stands to reason that if he had complied with their
instructions no situation would have arisen, nor would the officers have resorted to violence
against him).
As a result, the general police director for the region of western Greece deleted the case from the
disciplinary point of view.

Case 2 was about a woman (Z.E.), interviewed at Monasteriou police station on 20/09/2009. She
said that she had been hit with a baton several times on her right hand and forearm, when
56

handcuffed behind her back, 48 hours before the delegation' s arrival at the police station. After a
medical examination, the delegation' s doctor concluded: This woman had extensive purplish
bruising extending over the outer side of the right hand, wrist and forearm and on palpation
displayed tenderness over the fourth and fifth metacarpal bones.
The sworn administrative investigation reached the conclusion, that Z. E. had never been victim to
ill treatment or other inhuman or degrading treatment.
According to the fact that Z.E. had complained to the delegation about having been ill treated on
the 21st and not the 20th of September 2009, and the testimonies of 6 other detainees who had been
detained at the same time as Z.E., her claims because of ill treatment probably only were made to
achieve an earlier release from police custody.
(to be noticed: According to the Greek authorities, Z.E claimed to the delegation about having been
ill treated on 21st of September, not on the 20th, as stated by the CPT)
The General police director of western Thessaloniki as the competent decision making instrument
in charge of the sworn administrative investigation dismissed the case from the disciplinary point
of view.

Case 4 was about a detainee at Filakio special detention facility for irregular migrants, who claimed
to have been struck with a baton on the right upper arm and back by a police officer just the day
before in the dormitory.
Again, signs supporting the claims of the detainee, could be found during examination.
A sworn administrative investigation could not verify neither the identity of the possible ill
treatment, nor the identity of the alleged perpetrator. The case was terminated from the disciplinary
point of view.

In Article 21 of the report, the CPT criticises, that there were still no guidelines in place, regarding
the use of force in the case of deportation of irregular migrants from Greek territory.
In it' s response Greek authorities were able to send a document regarding the requested guidelines
as an attachment.103

103 [CPT/Inf (2010) 34, pages 52ff

57

In Art 22 31, the CPT is explicitly pointing at the apparent lack of energy regarding
investigations in cases of ill treatment by police forces. As in it' s last report104, a climate of
impunity within Greek law enforcement agencies is detected by the CPT.

The CPT, when criticising the Greek system of investigations into cases of alleged ill treatment by
law enforcement personnel, refers to 1999 UN Manual on Effective Investigation and
Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
(Istanbul Protocol), which inter alia states that such a type of investigation should be carried out
by investigators who shall be independent of the suspected perpetrators and the agency they serve,
besides being effective and rapid.105
In Greece, investigations into allegations of ill treatment and other disciplinary offences are still
being carried out by the same police office which the accused police officer is belonging to.
After a written complaint by the possible victim of ill treatment, a preliminary official inquiry,
upon the decision of a superior officer of the law enforcement official concerned, is held. The
questioning is made by the superior officer or another senior officer appointed by him.106
Only when there exist indications that a serious disciplinary offence has been committed, a sworn
administrative Investigation107 is being held. This investigation is led by a police officer who' s a
member of an other administrative entity than the accused officer.108
If the investigation concludes that the allegations were correct, a disciplinary board of police
officers decides about the concrete sanctions. If the investigation finds that a criminal offence has
been made, the file has to be sent to the public prosecutor.

The CPT does not forget to acknowledge and welcome the efforts made by Greek authorities to
tackle the problem of ill treatment in its police forces, such as the implementation of the
independent Arbitrary Incidents Office, which will be authorized to receive complaints regarding
104 See CPT/ Inf (2008) 3, paragraph 3.
105 Istanbul Protocol, paragraph 79
106 Article 24 (2) and (3), Decree on Police Discipline. According to the Greek authorities, Article 243 of the Criminal
Procedure Code imposes an obligation on the police force to report all allegations of ill-treatment by police officers to
the public prosecutor. However, Article 243 of the Criminal Procedure Code concerns the authority of the Greek police
to initiate a criminal investigation without the prior consent of the public prosecutor either in the event of an offender
having been caught in the act, or in the presence of direct risk or danger.
107 Article 26 (1) and (2) and Article 32, Decree on Police Discipline.
108 Article 26 (3), Decree on Police Discipline. In practice, such investigations into allegations of police ill- treatment
in the Attica and Thessaloniki regions, are being carried out by the Sub-Directorates of Administrative Investigations.
For the other regions, to the administrative investigation are assigned police officers of a different Police Region.

58

any illegal behaviour of members of the police, coast Guard or fire brigades. More detailed
information regarding this new institution is requested.
The CPT' s recommendation to remind police officers of the importance of taking action when
allegations of ill treatment are made, was implemented by internal order 6004/12 /48-a on
21/07/2010 by the head of staff of the hellenic police headquarters.109
Also, by circular number 1/10 from 23/03/2010 by the public prosecutor of the supreme court, it
was made clear that in case of claims regarding ill treatment of a detainee by hand of a
policeman, the public prosecutor of the first instance court must be notified, to assure that these
complaints are being investigated, regarding their graveness, either by the public prosecutor
himself or the deputy prosecutor, impeding an investigation by a colleague of the accused officer.
The arbitrary incidents office will be formed by 3 members: A supreme court judge will be chairing
the committee, the legal counsellor of the state to the ministry of citizen protection and a public
prosecutor of the supreme court or a court of appeal will be the other members.
This Arbitrary Incidents Office will assess every complaint regarding officers of the police, coast
guard and fire brigades and make the investigations by themselves or issue tasks regarding the
investigations to other investigative bodies.

Regarding safeguards against ill treatment, the delegation's recommendations could be


summarized as follows:

Access to free legal aid still is not being provided to administratively detained irregular migrants.
Since there are only a few lawyers working on a pro bono basis and irregular migrants usually don' t
have the money to pay for legal assistance themselves, access to a lawyer still is not being provided
by the Greek administration.
The presence of a lawyer is guaranteed by law ( Art 96 et seq. of the Code of Criminal Procedure).
Detainees may contact a lawyer of programs like the AEGEAS program, which is active at the
Orestiada police directorates.
Moreover, Directive 115/2008/EC, which will guarantee free legal assistance for irregular migrants
under deportation, is under way.
109The order could be found as an attachment to the Greek response to the CPT report. See CPT/Inf (2010) 34, pages
50f.

59

An information sheet, informing irregular migrants of their rights at the beginning of their
time in state detention, still is not being provided at every place of detention for irregular
migrants. The police stations of Serres and Moschatou were positive examples regarding this point,
but still, in most police and border guard stations these information sheets are still not available.
New information sheets, translated into 16 languages, are about to be sent to all places of detention
for irregular migrants.

Regarding the right of access to a doctor the situation is being described as follows: In every centre
of detention for irregular migrants except for the Piraeus holding centre for aliens and the Athens
airport holding areas - a daily medical presence could be reported.
At Piraeus and Athens airport, detained people were claiming that the staff would filter requests for
medical help. The case of a detainee who was allowed medical treatment only after the request of
the delegation, although he was suffering from blood and grit in his urine, is showing what kind of
risk the Greek authorities are taking with this policy.
At Mytilini, doctors do not enter the detention area and at Venna they did not enter the cells a
policy which is also not meeting the requirements of access to a doctor, as it' s interpreted by the
CPT.
At police and border guard stations the situation remains grim regarding medical examination
following the detainment of a migrant. Detainees are still not examined for infectious diseases like
skin diseases. As a consequence the number of cases of scabies and other diseases remains high.
The Greek government's response regarding medical care assures that Greece knows about the
necessary actions to be made, regarding this topic. On the one hand a program funded with
600000 Euros - is in progress, including 35 psychologists who will practice at the most important
places of detention for irregular migrants: Athens, Orestiada, Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Dodecanese
and Achaia.
On the other hand screening centres will be installed where most irregular migrants arrive in
Greece. At these screening centres newly arrived migrants will be medically examined, identified,
classified and then sent to different smaller sites of detention in Greece.110

110CPT/Inf (2010) 34, pages 26 f, 34

60

The right to inform a third person of one's detention is also not being provided by Greece, according
to the CPT. The lack of means to buy a phone card and the still existing policy of confiscating all
mobile phones which the detainees possess at the day of their detention, make it necessary that
Greek authorities provide irregular migrants with the money necessary to make a free phone call to
inform a relative of their situation.
The Greek authorities make great efforts to achieve that detainees are able to make use of their
rights. Especially important to achieve this goal, is providing a reasonable number of translators: A
program is being implemented which will consist of 35 new interpreters to the centres of detention
of irregular migrants.

The long standing recommendation to form an independent police inspectorate still has not been put
into practice by the Greek authorities. In their response to the last report in 2008, they had stated,
that this work is currently being done by the Greek Ombudsman. After a conversation with the
current Ombudsman, who does not see himself in the position and without the necessary means to
perform this task, the CPT feels the need to renew it' s recommendation to create a new,
independent police inspectorate.
...we believe that the assignment of this task, by way of an express provision, to the Greek
Ombudsman, being a constitutionally established independent authority, would constitute the
recommended solution, without particular side-effects.111

The problem of overcrowding at police and border guard stations apparently has not been solved yet
by the Greek authorities.
For example: At Feres border guard station 50 irregular migrants were detained in 2 cells of about
48 square meters each, 13 other detainees were kept in another cell of about 12 square meters.
On September 19, at Patras police headquarters, 24 irregular migrants were found in four cells with
a total surface of only 30 square meters.
On September 23, at Mytilini police headquarters, 25 detainees were found in cells with a total
surface of only 34 square meters.

Despite the fact that the CPT continuously criticises the Greek policy of keeping irregular migrants
111CPT/Inf (2010) 34, page 29

61

in police stations, no change in this policy could be verified until now. The CPT found only 2
police stations with an outside yard Feres border guard station and Chios town police station
and even there outside exercise for detainees was limited to 20 minutes daily ( at Feres) or had been
discontinued at all ( Chios). Also, Greece was still continuing to keep irregular migrants
together with criminal suspects in the same cells.

In their response to the CPT' s preliminary observations from 23 November 2009, Greece assured
that in the future irregular migrants would only be accommodated in special holding centres, a
confirmation of this plan is expected by the CPT.
The detention of irregular migrants at police and border guard stations has stopped. Irregular
migrants, who' s repatriation is possible, are being sent to special detention centres for irregular
migrants (SDFIMs). Vulnerable groups and irregular migrants who' s repatriation is not possible,
are being released after their identification and the fixation of their day of departure.
Under Law 3772/2009, if a deportation decision is issued, the person concerned remains in
custody until the deportation can be carried out, but under no circumstances for a period of more
than six months. If the deportation is delayed because the foreign national refuses to cooperate or
because the necessary documents are delayed from the country of origin, the detention period may
be extended up to a total period of no more than twelve months. In practice, irregular migrants
whose repatriation is possible are held for 15-20 days, until the relevant administrative deportation
procedure may be concluded.112

Since at many police stations the sanitary installations are placed outside the cells, detainees at
Amfissa police transfer centre, Thessaloniki Monasteriou station, the holding cell at Feres border
guard station, Chios town police station and Neo Karvali border guard station, complained of being
forced to use bottles to relieve themselves during the night.
There is a guard on duty 24 hours a day on every day of the week to respond to requests made by
detainees, in case they need to use the toilet. That's why an installation of call bells is not
necessary also, an abusive use of such call bells would probably happen.

112CPT/Inf (2010) 34, page 30

62

The quality and quantity of food for detainees at police stations is remaining a problem, too: The
provision with 5.87 Euros per day does not allow to buy more than some sandwiches and some
water clearly insufficient to a person detained for weeks or even months.

The steady overcrowding and the insufficient provision of products for personal hygiene and
detergents resulted in dilapidated and dirty detention areas, the lack of natural and/or artificial light
(like at Athens Omonia, Siderokastro, Patras holding centre and police headquarters), do the rest.
Clear instructions have been issued to the staff regarding hygienic conditions at detention areas,
the provision of food and the safety of detainees.

After the CPT' s visit of 2008, the situation at Xanthi police and border guard station was qualified
as inhuman and degrading.113 When returning to the same site in 2009, the delegation had to find out
that the situation had become even worse.
The total lack of light in cell number 4 had led to an unhygienic situation, the detainees couldn't
even be identified by the delegation.
According to Art 8 (5) of the convention, the CPT requested the immediate closure of this cell until
it was completely refurbished and renovated.
In their letter from 23 November 2009, Greek authorities stated that the cell had been refurbished
and that access to natural light had been made possible by the installation of a glass wall.

The material conditions at SDFIMs (special detention facilities for irregular migrants) have not
significantly improved, according to the CPT.

At the Pagani centre of Mytilini, the situation remains abominable. Serious overcrowding leads to a
steady lack of beds, toilets, showers, mattresses. The hygienic situation was as a consequence of
the overcrowding very bad, too.
By letter of 26 February 2010, the CPT was informed by Greek authorities that the centre of Pagani
had been closed and that it would be replaced by a new centre with more appropriate
113CPT/ Inf (2008) 20, paragraph 35

63

accommodation.

At Athens airport centre the situation was found to be similar: Serious overcrowding, especially in
the facilities for male irregular migrants, were forcing some of the migrants to sleep on mattresses
or blankets placed directly on the floor.
Further on, detainees of that unit claimed that they were not allowed to take a shower or to use the
toilet without difficulties. Outdoor exercise was never offered due to the lack of an outside yard.

At Filakio centre, although the maximum occupancy rate was usually not surpassed, the delegation
found that some cells were severely overcrowded, while others were almost empty. This was
happening because of the commander' s practice of separating migrants of different nationalities.
Although the situation at Filakio could be described as a positive example compared to other
SDFIMs (also, because the CPT' s recommendation of enabling outdoor exercise to the irregular
migrants had been met by Greek authorities), the CPT is concerned that the situation could
deteriorate significantly in the future, since the prefecture and region have accumulated large debts
with private suppliers who are taking care of catering, maintenance and cleaning of the facility.

At Venna the situation has not improved at all. Still, the conditions could be described as filthy,
badly maintained and with hardly any access to light.
By letter from 8 August 2009, the police union requested some immediate improvements regarding
Venna. Sadly it caused no effect, although the different measures were approved by the authorities,
due to lacking funds.

The SDFIM of Petrou Ralli remains an unsuitable place for detaining irregular migrants for
prolonged periods, according to the CPT. Due to overcrowding some male detainees were forced to
sleep on the floor. Still, compared to previous visits, the situation has improved significantly:
Hygiene was much better and outdoor exercise was made possible by staff more regularly.

Piraeus holding centre had been visited by the CPT for the first time in 1997 and was qualified as
only suitable for short periods of detention, and that only if the deficiencies regarding lighting
64

and ventilation were met.


After the government' s assurance that all improvements would be made, the CPT found the
situation unchanged at it' s next visit in 2001. Greek authorities acknowledged the necessity of
immediate changes and informed the CPT that a new building, replacing piraeus holding centre, had
already been found.
In 2007, the CPT had to find out that the same building was still in use and that the situation also
had not improved.
In 2009, the situation could be described as follows: Dilapidated, gloomy and dirty, still with no
access to outdoor exercise .114
By letter of 23 November 2009 the CPT got informed that the piraeus holding centre was about to
be demolished at the beginning of 2010.

The situation of personal hygiene remains a problem at Greek SDFIMs. At some centre cleaning
utensils like detergents and shampoo were provided regularly by staff, while for example
toothbrushes and toothpaste had to be bought by the detainees themselves.
Regarding the difficult hygienic situation at many detention sites, provision with basic necessities of
personal hygiene should have a higher priority.

Although the CPT continues to recommend the implementation of a suitable regime for SDFIMs in
Greece, there are still no guidelines in place regarding the duties of staff in case of emergency or
regarding activities of the detainees, like the provision of reading material, radio, television.

The Greek authorities trust in the implementation of screening centres to improve the situation of
irregular migrants in Greece. These centres will provide a well structured first reception
procedure, providing the recommended level of first instance medical screening, health care and
suitable accommodation.
The centre of Pagani has already been shut down as part of the new policy and a strong will exists
to build more screening centres in other regions which are heavily effected by the strong migrative
flows of the last years.The construction, repair and leasing of recording and management
114CPT/Inf (2010) 33, paragraph 69

65

establishments for migrants will be financed by the European External Borders Fund. Resources
are sought from European funds, such as the Refugees Fund and other European programs similar
to the Aegeas project in order to cover the operational costs of the centres. Our objective is to
respond and fulfil in the best possible manner our obligations to migrants, on the basis of the
requirements of our Republic and our timeless civilization.115

Regarding health care at the different SDFIMs, the CPT' s recommendations have not yet been fully
implemented: The minimum requirement of the daily presence of a nurse at every SDFIM, as
recommended by the CPT, is currently not being met at the Piraeus facilities and at the Athens
airport centre.
Due to the absence of a doctor at Venna from 9 July until September 2009, the CPT found a man
with tuberculosis in one of the cells, coughing blood. He was sent to a hospital for treatment after
the delegation's request.

Previous recommendations by the CPT regarding the staff at SDFIMs have not been implemented at
all. The task of the guards at these centres requires especially trained personnel, regarding language
skills and knowledge about the different cultures of the detainees. The lack of especially trained
staff, the alarming low quantity of personnel and the Greek policy of severe punishment of staff in
case of escape of a detainee led to an understandable no-risk approach of guards, preferring to
keep detainees locked up in their cells, instead of permitting outdoor exercise which could provide
an opportunity to escape.
Regarding police personnel' s behaviour towards Greek and other citizens, several orders and
instructions have been given and every violation of these duties will be punished severely.
Where SDFIMs are located, staff is receiving special training, with assistance of various NGOs and
the UNHCR.

115CPT/Inf (2010) 34, page 34

66

C1e) The public statement by the CPT concerning Greece116

On March 15, 2011, the CPT has made a public statement according to Art 10 (2)117 ECPT.
For more than a decade, the CPT consistently reiterated its recommendations and criticism
regarding the situation of irregular migrants in Greek detention facilities.
The unchanged policy of detaining irregular migrants for weeks or even months in very poorly
furnished and inadequately lit and/or ventilated premises, without offering them either the
possibility of daily outdoor exercise or a minimum of activities with which to occupy themselves
during the day, is unacceptable and could even amount to inhuman and degrading treatment.118

Although the Greek government has repeatedly assured that the situation would be improved, the
delegation, which visited Greece in January 2011 had to find out that in fact it even had
deteriorated.
For example, at Soufli police and border guard station 146 persons were held in a detention area of
110 square meters, having to share one toilet and one shower. 65 of the migrants had had to stay
there for more than a month, some for various months. No outdoor exercise was offered, not to
speak of any other useful activities.
Although Greek authorities had promised in 2010, that the Piraeus detention centre, which had been
harshly criticised by the delegation due to the abominable living conditions which had been found
there, the Committee had to find out in January 2011, that it was still operating - and that the
detention conditions had even deteriorated.
The CPT fully recognises the challenge faced by Greece in having to cope with a constant
influx of irregular migrants in recent years. It is highly unlikely that this influx will diminish
in the near future. It is of crucial importance that the international community and
particularly the European Union assists the Greek authorities to meet this challenge.
However, such support must go hand in hand with a clear demonstration by the Greek
authorities of their commitment to redress the current situation. Plans and new laws must be
followed up with concrete action to put in place the structural reforms required. A similar
116 http://www.cpt.coe.int/en/states/grc.htm
117 If the Party fails to co- operate or refuses to improve the situation in the light of the Committee's
recommendations, the Committee may decide, after the Party has had an opportunity to make known its views, by a
majority of two-thirds of its members to make a public statement on the matter.
118 Public statement concerning Greece, Paragraph 2

67

commitment by the Greek authorities is necessary for the recovery of the countrys prison
system.119

At the end of the public statement, the CPT reassures that it' s committed to continue its cooperation
with the Greek government to achieve improvements of the conditions of detention of irregular
migrants in Greek detention centres.

C1f) Conclusions regarding the Cooperation between the CPT and


Greece

The evolution of the level and quality of cooperation between the government of Greece and the
Commission could be described as follows:

In 2005, Greek authorities appeared to answer positively to the recommendations of the expert
body, only to 'tell them what they wanted to hear'. Almost all recommendations of the CPT were
formally accepted, improvements were agreed to be made.

When in 2007 the CPT had see that hardly any of the Greek promises had been kept, the Committee
started to put further pressure behind it's recommendations already threatening with making a
public statement on Greece' s reluctance to fulfil it's obligations, according to the European
Convention on the Prevention of Torture.

The Committee returned already in 2008, since Greece had to be looked at more closely than other
members of the Council of Europe. On the one hand due to it's lacking will to cooperate it had
shown in the years before. On the other hand because of a steadily increasing flow of Immigrants,
reaching Greek territory. The number of Migrants was reaching a level which made it easy to
understand that the state of Greece could soon find itself unable to cope with the task.
A difficult situation, also to the CPT, had to be faced: Greece, far from being one of the richest
countries of the European Union, was to be reminded steadily of it's human rights obligations but
119 Public statement concerning Greece, Paragraph 12

68

in a way, balancing between criticism and understanding of the incredibly difficult and costly task.
When reading the 2008 report by the CPT and the following answer of Greece, I got the impression
that the climate between the expert body and the Greek government had improved.
Of course, most of the long standing recommendations of the CPT still had not been met
including some basic topics like the hygienic situation in the detention areas, or the provision of
fresh air or light.- but finally Greek authorities appeared to have understood, that the steady
recommendations of the CPT were not meant to be nagging, but helpful.

In 2009, certain achievements could be acknowledged: Greece finally seems to have understood
that an objective procedure following allegations of ill treatment is crucial to tackle the
phenomenon of torture in police custody.
The necessity of an independent body, visiting the different places of detention of irregular
migrants, is understood by Greece, although the Greek Ombudsman will not be the right answer.
Hopefully, the Greek government will change it's mind towards the Committee' s point of view.
I believe, that Greece can not be expected to cope with the massive influx of migrants on his
own.
Still, the fact that the CPT finally has made it's public statement in March 2011 shows that the
dialogue between Greek authorities and the expert body has reached a critical level of non
cooperation.
The new approach of Greece by installing screening centres has to be qualified as the ultimate,
desperate attempt to cope with the phenomenon of uncontrollable immigration.

Keeping in mind the actual domestic situation of the Greek state, being forced to cut back
heavily public spending in almost all areas, I do not dare to blame Greece for the abominable
situation in the different centres of detention.
In fact it's the irresponsible and highly unfair policy of the other member states of the
European Union, who are by applying Regulation Dublin II leaving Greece alone with the
burden of hundreds of thousands of irregular migrants. This behaviour can only be classified
as shameful, revealing the idea of solidarity within the European Union as a shallow phrase.

69

C2 Italy
C2a) Visit 16/06/2006 23/06/2006

The CPT' s visit to Italy in 2006 was one which was required in the circumstances 120 according to
Art 7 (1) of the convention.
Cooperation with the Italian authorities during the visit was described as excellent by the CPT.

In 2006, the island of Lampedusa, as well as the Sicilian coastline, found themselves with
increasing numbers of arriving irregular migrants.121

Since some of the recommendations of the CPT fall under the exclusive responsibility of the Italian
authorities, others under the shared responsibilities of the Italian state and the EU, the CPT
highlights the paramount importance of a concerted effort for solidarity on the part of the
international community and most particularly the European Union to enable the Italian
authorities to address the difficulties with which they are confronted today.122

Since the Center Left Union has won the elections in April 2006, many projects are under way,
many others are about to be launched.123
Italy recognizes and guarantees the inviolability of human rights by ensuring the performance of
the unalterable duty to political, economic and social solidarity.
Another important step to improve the Italian approach towards the phenomenon of migration will
be a change in policy: Migration will be assessed as a structural phenomenon, not as an emergency
one. According to this new policy, the system of centres of temporary stay and assistance ( Italian
acronym: CPTA) will be reduced the Minister of Interior already decided to close down the
temporary stay and assistance centres of Brindisi, Crotone and Ragusa. On the other hand, projects
for the redevelopment of reception centres ( Italian acronym: CDA) are being promoted.
120 The Committee shall organise visits to places referred to in Article 2. Apart from periodic visits, the Committee
may organise such other visits as appear to it to be required in the circumstances.
121 According to [CPT/Inf (2007) 26: 13000 persons arrives from 1 january until 18 september 2005; 16000 during the
same period in 2006.
122[CPT/Inf (2007) 26, paragraph 8
123 CPT/Inf (2007) 27, page 5

70

Access to these centres will be allowed to all domestic and humanitarian organizations, such as
UNHCR ( United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights) , IOM ( International
Organization for Migration) and the Italian Red Cross.

The legal status of the Lampedusa centre had been changed by Italian authorities from centre of
temporary stay and assistance ( CPTA) to an assistance and initial reception centre - a status
more closely to it' s actual function, according to the CPT.

Another major development since the last visit of the delegation was an agreement reached by the
Italian authorities and the Italian Red Cross, the IOM and UNHCR: According to this agreement,
members of these 3 organizations were present at Lampedusa since 1 March 2006. In detail, the
UNHCR representative' s role is to identify and to assist potential asylum seekers, the IOM
representative's task is to provide information about the Italian immigration legislation and to assist
in voluntary repatriations. The Red Cross representative' s job is to take care of unaccompanied
juveniles and other general humanitarian tasks.
The CPT explicitly welcomes this pilot programme and hopes that this concept will be applied at
other centres for irregular migrants too.
The program the CPT mentioned is called Praesidium and has been a success. Actually it is
about to be implemented in other centres too, namely at Trapani, Siracusa and Ragusa. This
continuation of the program is named Praesidium II.

The conditions of detention in Lampedusa had been described by the CPT as generally satisfactory,
as long as the centre' s maximum capacity of 190 was not exceeded.
Due to increasing numbers of mass arrivals of irregular migrants at the island of Lampedusa, the
Italian authorities saw themselves forced to undertake further administrative efforts to alleviate the
situation at the island's reception centre: Within 48 hours all newly arrived migrants should be
transferred to other centres off the island; a new reception centre on Lampedusa with a capacity of
up to 380 persons should be constructed, a special government commissioner was appointed to
monitor the construction.

71

At the already existing detention centre the delegation could take note of significant improvements:
New accommodation units for women and juveniles had been installed, sanitary installations had
been added too.
Only the fact that the women's facilities had metal bars in their windows, was criticised by the CPT.
The removal of these bars - which had no practical use at all, since the facility' s doors remained
unlocked during the whole day was recommended by the CPT.
The metal bars in the windows of the women' s facility have been removed.

Due to the lack of any protection against the sun for newly arrived irregular migrants at the
quayside in Lampedusa, the CPT felt the need to recommend making available additional vehicles
to shorten the time of stay at the quayside as much as possible, as well as the instalment of a
permanent protection against the sun.
At the Lampedusa harbour, four kiosks with canopy have been installed.

Also, the CPT would like to receive further information regarding a new centre which is planned to
be built on the area of a former military facility, as well as about what is being planned for the
centre which is already in use.
The new centre is currently under construction and is planned to be finished on June 21, 2007. A
higher number of places, providing better living standards for irregular migrants, will be available.
The current centre is planned to be used by health care services like tele - medicine, for both
migrants and the local community.

Regarding the staff at the Lampedusa Centre, the CPT reached the conclusion that the number of
translators/cultural mediators was too low, since only 3 translators had to cope with all newly
arriving migrants on Lampedusa. Probably due to the low number of translators the quality of the
translation was varying a lot: In some cases the mediator interpreted only part of what they had
been told by the irregular migrant, in other cases they themselves replied to questions which had
been directed to the migrant.
At the end of visit talks in Rome, the CPT was assured that further financial means were about
to be made available to improve the translation services at Lampedusa.
72

The CPT is looking forward to further details regarding this point.


The Centre of Lampedusa has hired a woman as an additional mediator/interpreter.

The health care team at Lampedusa had not changed since the CPT' s last visit: A doctor and a
nurse are offering medical service 24 hours/day. In the case of a mass arrival of about 400 irregular
migrants at once, systematic medical examination of each newly arrived person is simply
impossible to such a small medical team.
The CPT already got informed that Italian authorities had made special arrangements in such a case
of mass arrival of migrants: At the request of 'Misericordia', and depending on the agreement of
the Prefetto of Agrigento, MSF (Medecins sans Frontieres) could give support to 'Misericordia'
inside the Centre for the management of crisis situations from the health perspective.124
The CPT welcomes this move of Italy, but insists that the measure would be far more effective it it
wouldn't depend on any formality.
In case of mass arrivals to the island, Medecins sans Frontieresare easily authorized access to
the Centre. An access request does only have to be made to the Department of civil Rights and
Immigration, through the Prefecture responsible on territorial level.

Thanks to the steady presence of representatives of UNHCR ( information on asylum procedures,


identification of potential asylum seekers and their notification of the competent authorities) IOM
( information on immigration legislation) and the Italian Red Cross ( for juveniles), Lampedusa
reception centre is offering now real safeguards against expulsion.
Still, the CPT stressed, that the aforementioned organisations could carry out their work much more
effectively if they were allowed to work inside the detention areas, just like Misericordia, which is
currently carrying out the daily management of the Centre.
International Organizations, such as IOM, UNHCR, the Italian Red Cross - thanks to a joint
decision of the Department of Civil Rights and Immigration and the Province Authorities of
Agrigento have already been allowed access to the centre, in so far as the ordinary management
of the Centre allows.

124[CPT/Inf (2007) 26, paragraph 24

73

For the purpose of carrying out regular inspections of detention centres, the Italian authorities
decided to form a national inspection commission. The CPT wished to receive more detailed
information on this.
The so called De Mistura Commission' s duty was an assessment of the current Italian policy
regarding centres for migrants, to find better strategies for the future.
One conclusion, reached by the commission, was that a shorter term of stay for migrants at the
centres should be reached. Therefore, the current system of CPTAs has to be overcome.

Centres of detention which the CPT visited for the first time, were the Crotone Centre in Calabria
and the Ragusa temporary holding centre for women.

Crotone consisted of 2 units: An initial reception centre ( run by Miseriacordia, the Italian Red
Cross and Caritas) and a temporary holding centre (run by Misericordia alone).

The CPT got informed of a case of alleged ill treatment at Crotone Centre: E.W.K, an Iraqi
citizen, had been transferred by plane from Lampedusa to Crotone. On the bus trip from the airport
to the centre of detention, he had tried to escape. After having been caught he was brought to a
Police station to be interviewed.
According to what the Iraqi citizen said, he got kicked, slapped and beaten with batons after having
been accused of having beaten a police officer during his attempt to escape. At court he told the
prosecutor about what had happened to him. The CPT is expecting further information on the
investigation started by the prosecutor.
The person E.W.K., whose nationality could be ascertained at the Temporary Stay Centre of
Crotone as Egyptian, was repatriated on 28 September 2006. No criminal proceedings against the
policemen were started, since there was no evidence that E.W.K. Had been ill treated by these
officers.
At Ragusa Centre, although no usual case of ill treatment was reported to the delegation,
another unacceptable situation was to be criticised by the CPT:
Two female detainees informed the CPT about inappropriate sexual activities between male
guards (who were often working as volunteers) and female detainees. Also, in their letter from 27
74

July 2006, the Italian authorities informed the CPT that the regional branch of the Red Cross had
been asked only to employ female guards during the night hours.
The delegation detected video surveillance cameras inside the dormitories of the female detainees.
The CPT asked the authorities to remove these cameras and to install them outside the facility, in
case a surveillance for the purpose of preventing an escape was necessary at all.
The CPT would like to receive further information on these topics.

The material conditions at Crotone Centre were as follows: The centre consisted of the initial
reception centre with it' s 4 separated areas - named A,B,C,D125- and the temporary holding centre.

The situation at the areas B D of the initial reception centre were satisfactory, which could not be
stated for area A: This area did not only not have - apart from the sanitary installations - any
permanent structures, but detainees were also not able to take shelter from the sun or to use the
TV/recreation room.
The detainees' access to the facilities outside sector A depended on the availability of guards to
escort the detainee.
Migrants staying at sector A of the centre, were allowed to use all public areas and services
since July 2006.

Material conditions of detention at Ragusa were qualified as satisfactory by the CPT.

The regime of daily life for detainees had to be qualified as monotonous. Most detainees saw
themselves forced to spend the day in idleness or wandering around the detention area.
For this reason, the CPT asked the Italian authorities to provide detainees with the possibility to do
sports like playing football, not only to give them something to do but also from the point of view
of physical and mental health of the detainees.
The management guidelines for a centre for irregular migrants state that staff has to provide leisure
125A: New arrivals (capacity:210); B: Women, juveniles, some men (capacity: 210);
C: Asylum Seekers (capacity: 138); D: (capacity: 366)

75

and educational activities. As an example, at the centre of Crotone, several activities were started,
like a chess game program.

Staffing at Crotone as well as at Ragusa were qualified as sufficient by the CPT. Only the
importance of a sufficiently high number of interpreters / cultural mediators at Crotone was
reiterated by the CPT.
The Department on Civil Rights and Immigration is constantly supervising the cultural mediators
to guarantee a correct translation of what is said by immigrants during the interviews.
The Ministry of Interior is steadily struggling to implement and to enhance the number and quality
of translators at the centres for Irregular migrants.

Health Care Service at the centres of Crotone and Ragusa, regarding the number of doctors and
nurses attached to the centres could be qualified as sufficient by the delegation.
Still, the CPT reminded the Italian authorities of the necessity of drawing up an overall strategy for
the medical facility and the regular holding of clinical and coordination meetings for every centre of
detention.
A real risk for personal and public health was detected by the CPT at Crotone reception centre:
Since the medical staff at Crotone assumes that every migrant, arriving on Lampedusa, received it' s
first medical examination already on the island, only apparently ill persons are being examined by
the medical staff at Crotone - and only for these persons a personal medical file is opened.
The CPT reiterates it' s recommendation, that each and every irregular migrant needs to be
medically examined immediately after it' s arrival.
Every newly arriving migrant is undergoing an initial medical examination. In case of mass
arrivals, the examinations are made in the days following the arrival.

Also, the CPT asked for a response of Italy about the lack of screening for transmissible diseases
like AIDS, hepatitis, tuberculosis and so on.
The Prefecture of Crotone has put forward a medical screening project to be implemented in centres
like Crotone, to detect transmittable diseases.

76

The Italian policy of keeping irregular migrants locked up together with migrants who have
completed a prison sentence and are now awaiting their expulsion needs to be reconsidered. The
risk of escape attempts by these convicted persons was endangering all other detainees.
The Italian Minister of Interior, Mr. Amato, has already welcomed this proposal by the CPT.
The Committee is asking for further information on this topic.

The legal status of irregular migrants detained at sector A of the Crotone reception centre required
the CPT to ask for further information, if the time of detention at sector A was limited by law and if
there were means of appeal against their deprivation of liberty available to detainees of this sector.
Every person in detention has the right to free legal defence, either by a private counsel or by legal
aid. By Law Decree No. 241/2004 the right to defence has been further strengthened. Actually, legal
counsellors are allowed to enter the centres during the time fixed by each centre.

As criticised before by the CPT in 2004, several repatriation flights from Italian territory to Libya
took place again.126
In their response to the CPT report of 2004, the Italian authorities assured that each and every case
of deportation would be examined closely and that each foreigner was given the possibility to apply
for political asylum. Furthermore, all illegal immigrants sent back to Libya and Egypt were
received by their countries of origin and did not suffer any ill treatment.127
With great interest the CPT took notice of the statement of the Italian deputy minister of the interior,
Marcella Lucidi, saying that there will be no more expulsions of immigrants to countries who
are not signatories of the Geneva Convention on Refugees, including Libya.

C2b) Visit 14/09/2008 26/09/2008

Until 2008, when looking into Italy's policy regarding irregular migrants, the CPT made several
visits to Centres of detention in the southern provinces of the country, like Calabria and Sicily.
126 As regards the Agrigento Questura (Lampedusa): In 2005, 21 flights transporting 1642 persons were made. In 2006,
a flight on 28 March transferred 14 people. Crotone Questura: In 2005, 3 charter flights transported 221 persons,
none in 2006.
127CPT/Inf (2006) 17, pp. 29- 33

77

In September 2008, the CPT wanted to see what was happening to irregular migrants who had
reached Italian territory in the days and weeks following their arrival.
To this purpose the delegation visited the Milan Via Correlli Identification and Expulsion Centre
(CIE).
This Centre is providing space for a total of 112 persons divided in 4 units who are awaiting
identification and expulsion.
Besides, another separate unit is providing accommodation for 20 asylum seekers.

Police forces are entering the CIE only in case of emergency, the daily work is being done
exclusively by the Italian Red Cross.
At the time of the visit, 26 men, 24 women and 25 transsexuals from 24 different nations - were
accommodated in the 4 units of the CEI.
Families were only staying at the separate unit for asylum seekers.

Regarding ill treatment in the CIE of Milan, the delegation wanted to point out that regarding
the high level of tension within the detainees who were waiting for their expulsion a rather
positive report could be drawn up: No allegations of ill treatment were made, neither by state
authorities, nor by Red Cross personnel, except for one case:
On 19 July, at 11:30 p.m, a transsexual, named Y 128, allegedly was severely beaten by 6 officers of
the state police (with an inspector present) in a room next to the infirmary apparently after having
had a discussion with one of the officers.
The delegation was told, that this very room seemed to have been chosen because it was not
covered by video surveillance.129
40 minutes after the incident, Y was being returned to the detention area, after having received some
pain killers from a nurse. Due to continuing complaints by Y and the increasing risk of a riot
because of the incident, Y was brought to San Raffaele Hospital of Milan.
The medical report stated: Bruises on the face, scalp and neck, except the eye; bruises on many
places, neck injury, unfit to work for 8 days...to wear a neck brace for 8 days....monitoring of skull
128 Due to Art 11 (3) of the Convention, certain names were to be deleted.
129 The CIE of Milan has a CCTV system with 20 cameras. The images are being saved for 20 days.

78

injury...130
In a letter, dated 18 November 2008, Italy provided some information regarding this case, including
a Red Cross Report stating only that Y had entered the mentioned room with some officers and left
it a few minutes later.
The CPT declared that no information was received, capable of putting the allegations of Y in
doubt.
Therefore, the Committee called for a detailed investigation in this case, asking for the results of it
and calling the Italian authorities to remind it's officers that every case of ill treatment is
unacceptable and that each case of alleged ill treatment would be investigated thoroughly.
The CPT is requesting information on the outcome of the investigation regarding this very case.

As for the individual case, about whom specific indications were provided by letter dated
November 14, 2008, it has to be stressed that a judicial investigation was initiated and for October
12, 2009 it has been scheduled the examination of those who have been put under investigations.
131

The material conditions in the CIE of Milan could be described as satisfactory, as long as the
maximum term of detention would not exceed 30 or 60 days.
The detained people were spending most of their time reading or watching TV, access to the outdoor
yard (which only offered insufficient protection against bad weather) was allowed from 7 a.m until
2 p.m. each day.
No sports activities were offered a point which becomes more important the longer persons are
being kept in detention areas.
Since the CPT heard about plans of the the Italian authorities to increase the maximum time of
detention in the CIE up to 18 months, serious problems could emerge an opinion also shared by
the Provincial Director of the Red Cross, seeing the CIE of Milan as completely unsuitable for such
long terms of detention.

The staff, working at the CIE was considered as a positive example regarding the atmosphere and
situation in the detention areas.
130 CPT/Inf (2010) 12, paragraph 27ff
131 CPT/Inf (2010) 13, paragraph 96

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About 30 Red Cross workers were serving on a daily basis, a cultural mediator was doing an
important job as translator for Arab - speaking detainees.

As inappropriate the CPT had to qualify the fact, that when a detainee had to be separated from
the others for disciplinary reasons that person was being placed in the room designated to sick
people, due to the lack of any alternative. A room, reserved for sick people, should never be used for
other purposes.

Health Care, provided to the detainees of the CIE in Milan, is qualified as overall satisfactory. A
sufficient number of doctors and nurses is present on a daily basis, a psychologist is available twice
a week. Every newly arriving detainee is being checked.
Still, having in mind the fact that about 30% of the detainees were addicted to drugs and several had
been working as prostitutes, the Italian authorities would be well advised to offer systematic HIV
and hepatitis C tests.
Also, detainees who were transferred to the CIE from a prison, should be issued with a liaison
sheet, to be able to see if there's an ongoing treatment.
Finally, every time a planned deportation by plane fails, the detainee should undergo a medical
examination, when he returns to the CIE this would serve as a protection of the human rights of
the irregular migrant, as well as for the police officers who were accompanying him, regarding false
allegations of torture.

Further more, the CPT recommends to delete the rule preventing a visit by friends and relatives of
recently detained migrants during the first 8 days of their stay at the centre there seems to exist no
objective reason for this rule.
Regarding the work of the lawyer, accompanying the irregular migrant during the judicial procedure
of confirmation, Italy should allow the legal counsellor to talk to the detainee before starting the
procedure of hearing in front of the Judge.
Finally, the CPT asked for detailed information regarding the legal time limits of identification and
deportation procedures of migrants, staying in Italy illegally.

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C2c) Visit 27/07/2009 31/07/2009

The purpose of the visit in 2009 was to look into the new Italian policy to intercept boats with
irregular migrants at sea.

An examination of the safeguards in place for irregular migrants was made to ensure that no
migrant was sent back to a country where he was running a real risk of being ill treated.

The cooperation received by local authorities was very good, while on a central level it had to be
qualified as unsatisfactory: Some information requested was provided too late or not at all.
For example, the delegation was denied access to the logbooks of the ships which had taken part in
push back operations, with the reason of confidentiality.
Also, access to a list of inventory regarding things having taken from migrants after their
interception at sea, was denied though some representatives of the navy assured that such lists
existed.
This is clearly a breach of Art 8 (2) of the Convention, which places an obligation on parties
to provide such information, and of the general principle of cooperation set out in Art 3 of the
Convention.132

The CPT even had to learn from the press, that on 30, 31 of July 2009 a push back operation had
taken place. In the light of good cooperation the Italian authorities should have informed the
delegation about this incident when it was taking place.

These facts, when taken together, clearly indicate that the Italian authorities have not been
engaging with the Committee in a cooperative spirit in relation with the issue addressed
during the visit.133

132 CPT/Inf (2010) 14, paragraph 7


133 CPT/Inf (2010) 14, paragraph 9

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The push back operations:

Since the implementation of this new policy in Italy on May 2009, 7 such operations took place
from May until July 2009.

These operations are executed as follows: When a vessel with migrants is detected between 12 and
24 nautical miles from the Italian coast, the Guardia di Finanza intercepts and pushes back.
Beyond 24 nautical miles the Italian Navy intercepts.
If a boat is intercepted within 12 nautical miles from the Italian coast, the people are brought to the
Italian coast, where Italian and EU Law guarantee access and safeguards of an asylum procedure.
Migrants who require medical attention are brought to an Italian hospital by the Coast Guard, which
is accompanying Navy and Guardia di Finanza during push back operations.
The remaining migrants are brought either on an Italian or a Libyan ship ( of which various have
been donated to Libya by Italy; officers of the Italian Guardia di Finanza are placed on each of these
donated ships) and transported back to Libya or Algeria.

According to Italy, until 31 July 2009, 602 migrants have been returned to Libya, 23 to Algeria.
The CPT has information according to which before, as well as after the delegation' s visit, minors
and pregnant women were among the deported.
The Italian authorities explicitly acknowledged that they were not going on with the identification
of migrants on intercepted vessels. The CPT possesses relevant information stating that at least
97 of the 632 boat returnees screened by the UNHCR, were seeking international protection. 134
Despite this, Italy has assured that none of the pushed back migrants had ever applied for
asylum, so there was no need for identification of these people.
Even if that was true, the CPT calls in mind that a person recently rescued can not be expected to
apply for asylum right away. Further on, even if a migrant was able to apply for asylum
immediately after having been intercepted, representatives of the Italian Navy or the Guardia di
Finanza are not able to provide linguistic of legalistic assistance, nor is there a procedure in place
134 Human Rights Watch in Pushed back, Pushed around., September 2009, page 57.

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capable of referring him /her to a protection procedure.

The Legal Basis of Push Back operations according to Italy:


Italian authorities refer to the UN Convention against transnational organized crime and the
Protocol against the smuggling of migrants by Land, Air, Sea.135
In detail, Italy argues that a state party' s ship may stop and board any ship without nationality,
which is suspected to transport or smuggle migrants.
Italy also entered some treaties and protocols with Libya136, in order to jointly patrol Libyan
territorial waters and to prevent and stem illegal migration flows.
With Algeria, Italy also strengthened cooperation regarding migration.137

At this place I want to present details regarding 2 of the 7 push back operations carried out by
Italian authorities:

Operation on May 6, 2009:

After the interception of 3 boats, carrying 191 men and 40 women ( other sources state that among
the migrants there were unaccompanied minors and 4 pregnant women) by the Coast Guard and
Guardia di Finanza, the migrants were transferred to the Italian ships and returned to Libya.

Although the delegation was unable neither to talk to any of the migrants, nor due to Italian
authority' s reluctance to provide the names to the Italian personnel, the delegation was informed
that during the journey to Libya, the migrants were provided with insufficient food and water. No
blankets were available to them either. After reaching the harbour in Tripoli, some of the migrants
were made leave the ship by using physical force.

135 Adopted by the General Assembly on 15 November 2000 and 31 May 2001; ratified by Italy by Law No. 146 of
March 16, 2006.
136 Treaty signed in Rome on 13 December 2000; Protocol of cooperation, Tripoli, 29 December 2007; Treaty of
Friendship, August 2008; and supplementary Protocol, 4 February 2009.
137 Agreement with Algeria entered on 22 July 1999, separate agreement to reinforce police cooperation, 22 July
2009.

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The CPT calls for a full investigation of the cases of alleged use of disproportionate force.
Also, the CPT asks the Italian authorities to provide any report or copy of incident, having been
drawn up regarding this operation.
Finally, abstaining from the provision of sufficient food, water and shelter to people in need is
qualified as clearly unacceptable by the CPT.

Operation on 1 July 2009:

A boat carrying 82 migrants was intercepted by the Italian Navy. While the Italian Navy insisted,
that food and water were served, CPT sources said that it was only served water. When being
transported to a Libyan ship, according to the CPT, some of the migrants got injured when being
forced to board.
Italian authorities said that proportional force was only applied when the migrants were forced to
board the Italian vessel.

The CPT recommends a full investigation in the cases of alleged use of disproportionate force and,
again, asks the Italian authorities to provide any kind of report drawn up regarding the operation.

With regard to the May 6th, 2009 and the July 1st, 2009 operations, respectively, again Italian
Authorities reiterate that no tension was recorded on the Italian vessels. Specifically as for the July
1st operation, Italian Authorities confirm, once again, that the use of force was strictly limited to
overcome the passive resistance by the irregular migrants during the trans - bounder, from the
Italian ship to the requesting State s Unit by lifting them. Only two people not six were
reported to be wounded and solely as a consequence of the need to disrupt forceful intrusion
attempt into restricted areas of the vessel. Again, Italian Authorities would be grateful for more
details about the reliable sources of the information reported by the CPT.138

Legal safeguards for migrants rescued at sea:

138 CPT/Inf (2010) 15, page 9

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The principle of non refoulement can be found in Art 33 139 of the 1951 Convention on the status
of Refugees.
The European Court on Human Rights (ECtHR) extended the principle of non refoulement with
it's interpretation of Art 3 European Convention on Human Rights to all persons who may be
exposed to a real risk of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The wording of Art 33, 1951 Refugees Convention, refers to a return operation in any
manner whatsoever. This means, that the push back operations, undertaken by Italy, are
covered.
The principle of non refoulement is protecting any person who is subject to a state' s
jurisdiction. A state' s jurisdiction is also understood to be executed outside it' s boundaries,
when the state exercises it' s authority over persons or property through it' s agents
operating on the territory of another state or in international territory, waters.140

Multi- or bilateral agreements of Italy with states like Libya or Algeria do not affect Italy' s
obligations under Art 3 ECHR.
Further on, Art 19 of the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air, Sea, mentions
explicitly, that this Convention does not interfere with rights under International Law such as the
principle of non refoulement.
To abide by this principle also means, that every state, bound by this principle, is obliged to
screen every intercepted migrant to identify them.
The same obligation follows of the Schengen Border Code. It's Art 7 states that every member
state is obliged to perform a minimum check of every person to establish his/her identity.141

Italy assured that not a single person within the hundreds of intercepted migrants, was applying for
asylum. Regarding the fact that the personnel of the Italian ships stated that they were not even
139No contracting state shall expel or return a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territoies whre
his/her life and freedom would be threatened on account of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership of a
particular social group or political opinion.
140 See Xhavara v. Italy and Albania (11 January 2001), in which Italy was found accountable for the acts of it' s
warships on the high seas.
141 EC Regulation 562/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council. Articles 3 (b) and 13 of the
Regulation recall that border control operations must abide by asylum obligations.

85

prepared to receive any such request, Italy' s comments appear even less credible. The percentage of
migrants applying for asylum in Italy before the push back operations started, provides further
arguments:
75% of the migrants arriving by sea had applied for asylum, 50% of them received some kind of
protection.142

Even if it was true that no application for asylum was received during the push back operations,
human beings who have just survived a long sea journey are, understandably, not in a condition to
express their wish for political asylum immediately.

After all, Italy' s push - back policy does not appear to be at least willing to abide by the
obligations of International Law but solely on returning as many migrants as possible, before
they can reach Italian territory.

Regarding Rescue Operations:


Besides having to give assistance to persons in distress, states who are party to these Conventions 143
have to cooperate and to coordinate, to enable ship masters to retrieve persons in distress,
provide for their physical and other needs and deliver them to a place of safety.
The CPT believes that the push back operations ,carried out by Italy, do not meet this obligation,
namely, to leave the rescued people in a safe location.
For sake of clarity, with regard to the issue of the safest place, it should be stressed that the people
rescued could be either returned under given circumstances to the State concerned or brought to
the safest place, which, according to the relevant IMO standards, is not necessarily the closest one
to the place where people were rescued. The International Convention on Search and Rescue at Sea
operations dated April 1979 envisages the duty to rescue people regardless of their nationality or
legal position, besides setting the duty to disembark the shipwrecked in a safe place. In this regard,
it is worth recalling the IMO resolution MCS 167/78 dated May 20, 2004 and the amendments to
the SAR and Solas Conventions (as entered into force in July 2006), by which it is mentioned as a
142 UNHCR Policy development and Evaluation service Refugee protection and international migration: A review of
UNHCR' s role in southern Italy, September 2009.
143 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); International Convention for the safety of Life at Sea SOLAS,
1974); and the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR, 1979).

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safe place, among others, the place where the rescue operations are considered to have been
completed.144

Since the CPT is no allowed to enter Libya in order to check for the conditions of detention for
irregular migrants, it has to rely on information of other sources: According to UNHCR, the
situation in Libyan detention centres was appalling, rudimentary and lacking in basic amenities.
Further, the CPT got informed that migrants did often not survive their transfer to one of the
centres, since they are forced to travel in inadequately ventilated containers, without being served
any food or water during the journey.
According to UNCAT (UN Convention against Torture), prolonged incommunicado detention is
widespread in Libya, forming a high risk of torture and ill treatment for the detainees.
Mass deportations instead of an individual approach of every migrant, are common.145

The Italian government argues that Libya is bound by the 1969 OAU Refugees Convention and that
the UNHCR had an office in Libya which could observe the situation of irregular migrants.
To this the CPT can only respond that, since Libya has never signed nor ratified the 1951 Refugees
Convention, it has no asylum procedure or legislation in place.
The UNHCR, according to it' s High Commissioner, has only a small office in Libya, which is not
officially recognised. Since it' s sources are too small and it recently even got denied access to the
Libyan holding centres for irregular migrants, UNHCR can not be expected to protect the Rights of
irregular migrants in Libya.

Finally, the Italian government does also not only not meet it' s obligations regarding
vulnerable groups such as children and pregnant women, who' s expulsion is explicitly
prohibited by Italian law 146, but also it' s basic obligations regarding safeguards for irregular
migrants in detention: Access to a lawyer and a medical doctor; the ability to inform a 3 rd
person of one' s situation. The exceptional circumstances of a rescue at sea justify a delay of
the provision of the rights which are forming the safeguards for irregular migrants, not their
144 CPT/Inf ( 2010) 15, page 9
145 Council of European Union 7753/05, 4 April 2005, Technical Mission to Libya on Illegal Immigration, page 13.
146 See Article 19.2(a) and (d) of the consolidated text on immigration (Law 286/98), as amended.

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total denial.147

C2d) Conclusions regarding the Cooperation between the CPT and


Italy

In the case of Italy, the level and quality of cooperation with the CPT appears to have been changing
dramatically in the last years.

In the response to the report of June 2006, when the delegation was making certain detailed
recommendations regarding the situation in the centres of detention on the island of Lampedusa and
other centres in southern Italy, the Italian government appeared to be very willing to implement the
CPT's ideas to improve the situation of irregular migrants on Italian territory. At least most of the
promised improvements were also realized.

When in 2008 the Commission was taking a closer look at the CIE of Milan, the atmosphere of the
dialogue seemed to have deteriorated already: In their response, the Italian authorities instead of
answering to each recommendation, made by the CPT - preferred to take resort in quoting the legal
situation in Italy. This already gave me the impression, that Italy had changed it's attitude: By
pointing at it's legal and constitutional guarantees for irregular migrants, it seemed reluctant to take
serious the practical recommendations of the delegation.

Finally, in 2009, when the CPT was taking a closer, critical look at the Italian push - back policy,
the climate of cooperation between the expert body and the Italian authorities had reached a level I
would like to call icy and hostile.
In an outstanding report, the Committee adressed certain legal arguments brought forward by the
Italian government, calling the attention of the reader to the incredible extent and number of human
rights violations, which had been committed by Italian authorities. That very report was also totally
different from all the other CPT reports I've studied, regarding it's form: Unlike in a usual report,
the commission did not formulate practical recommendations, trying to help the country it had
147 [CPT/Inf (2010) 14, paragraph 40

88

visited in how to improve the human rights situation in that state. It is totally clear to me, that the
Committee knew that in this case the usual form of practical recommendations would have been
completely useless, since the Italian government had chosen to go around it's human rights
obligations. I base this conclusion on the legal arguments by Italy, given to the CPT as an answer to
the harsh criticism formulated by the expert body: Arguments, which revealed, that Italy had chosen
to give up a main principle in international law: The basic rule to interpret international human
rights treaties in good faith.
In other words: The Italian government seemed not to care any more for the human rights
treaties it is bound by.

D) Conclusio

When looking at the achievements of the CPT, one gets a good impression on what it means to
work in the field of human rights.
The CPT, as an expert body, on the one hand has achieved much more than could be expected in
1989, when it was created: The Committee is widely respected for its competence and good
reputation, its recommendations - although not legally binding - are in most cases being taken
seriously by state authorities.
It must be seen as remarkable, that a system of sole recommendations, followed by responses of the
single member state after each visit, could lead to a widely respected and accepted bundle of rules
and benchmarks like the CPT Standards.
Also, due to the policy of periodical visits to each country, state authorities receive valuable
information regarding how and why to change a certain legal situation or policy of accomodation of
people in detention. The fact that in the case of Greece, the CPT repeatedly requested the
installation of an independent Greek monitoring body who' d pay regular, unannounced visits to the
different places of detention, tells me that the Committee got little support by other institutions
when trying to improve the situation of irregular migrants in detention.

On the other hand, the work of an expert body like the CPT is very time consuming and sometimes
of little avail. After every visit a report needs to be drawn up, which will be answered by the

89

authorities of the individual state in a more or less satisfying way. Some recommendations are
repeated after every visit and each time the government' s response promises the implementation of
the recommended measures, only to be found unchanged by the delegation when performing the
next visit.

Still, I consider the work of the CPT very important and valuable. The Committee has achieved, that
the situation of detained persons in general and especially of irregular migrants in detention
received the attention it deserves.
Further on, the expert body achieved to transform the formal rights of every detainee - access to a
lawyer and to a medical doctor, the right to inform a third person of one' s situation into practical,
simply understandable rules.
Not to forget the benchmarks regarding the material conditions of detention centres a topic which
no other body or institution had focused on that seriously before.

Having in mind that the ECtHR can only react to violations of the human rights of a single
individual, years after the very violation of human rights had happened, the CPT provides pro
active support to every person in detention.

So, although I consider the work of the CPT as important and of high value, the situation of
irregular migrants in detention in Italy and Greece has deteriorated significantly in the last years
according to the reports of the CPT.
In the case of Greece, I see a country overwhelmed by a steadily increasing number of
immmigrants, unable to cope with the phenomenon on its own. Of course, a lack of will to reform
its own system of accomodating irregular migrants, like it is recommended steadily by the CPT,
forms part of the problem.
But in the special case of Greece, we are talking about a state who' s been forced to cut back public
spending due to the financial cirsis of the last years. The topic of conditions of detention of irregular
migrants is, in a situation when the whole country is forced to cut back spending and to raise taxes,
not of the highest priority.

90

That' s why I rather blame the other members of the European Union, who not only refuse to accept
taking care of a part of the arriving migrants, but even contribute to the problem by continuing to
apply the Dublin II Regulation.
Thanks to this Regulation, every member country of the EU is allowed to send an irregular migrant
to the one EU member country where that very migrant had first reached the EU.
Logically, that country in the most cases is Greece.
The humanitarian disaster in Greek holding centres for irregular migrants in fact is a disaster for the
idea of a European Union of solidarity.
The public statement by the CPT regarding Greece from March 15 2011 I consider a logical step by
the expert body. In each and every report since 2005, the Committee reiterated its threat to make
such a statement in case Greek authorities would not meet its recommendations.
I personally believe, that the CPT has waited for too long. Since acting according to Art 10 (2)
ECPT does not only have the effect of making a country appear in a bad light, but which I
consider much more important make the international community fully aware of a difficult
situation in a member country of the Council of Europe, making that public statement years ago
could have helped to make a joint approach to solve the difficult situation in Greece.

The reasons why in the case of Italy the CPT had also to report a significant deterioration of the
situation of irregular migrants was due to completely different reasons.
It is very interesting to see, to what extend the policy of a country regarding irrgular migrants can
change when a new government takes charge.
While in the report of 2006 the CPT had only a few recommendations to make and the governments
response showed great will to meet these recommendations, everything changed when Silvio
Berlusconi returned to power in 2008.
Suddenly, the Italian responses to the CPT report had changed to mere quotations of legal
provisions, not even answering in detail the single recommendations of the expert body.

While in 2006 the Italian deputy minister of interior had said, that there would be no more
deportations of irregular migrants to countries who were not parties to the Geneva Convention on
Refugees, in 2009 Italian authorities had no second thoughts when applying a policy which was a
91

clear and deliberate breach of the priciple of non refoulement.


The push back operations, performed by the Italian Navy and Guardia di Finanza, are unacceptaple
for a country which abides by its human rights obligations.
The 'justifications' of the Italian side, answering to the harsh criticism of the CPT showed me, that
Italy knew very well what it was doing. It simply didn't care.

That is why cooperation is one of the main principles of the ECPT.


When a country is unwilling to cooperate, an expert body like the CPT is unable to achieve
anything.
Italy seems to have decided, that human rights obligations are only a nagging obstacle which are
causing costs and problems a point of view which I fear is shared by an increasing number of
politicians and voters all over Europe.

E) Sources

1. The European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,
adopted by the member states of the Council of Europe meeting at Strasbourg on 26 November 1987.
On the internet: http://www.cpt.coe.int/en/documents/ecpt.htm

2. The CPT visit reports including the government's responses regarding Greece of 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
On the internet: http://www.cpt.coe.int/en/states/grc.htm

3. The CPT visit reports including the government's responses regarding Italy of 2006, 2008 and 2009.
On the internet: http://www.cpt.coe.int/en/states/ita.htm

4. The Homepage of the Council of Europe.


On the internet: http://www.coe.int

92

5. The Homepage of the CPT.


On the internet: http://www.cpt.coe.int/en/

6. The 20 Guidelines on forced return, adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 4 May 2005.
On the internet: https://wcd.coe.int/wcd/ViewDoc.jsp?id=858071&Site=COE

7. The 7th General Report on the CPT's activities ( 1996).


On the internet: http://www.cpt.coe.int/en/annual/rep-07.htm

8. The 13th General Report on the CPT's activities ( 2002 2003).


On the internet: http://www.cpt.coe.int/en/annual/rep-13.htm

9. The 19th General Report on the CPT's activities ( 2008 2009).


On the internet: http://www.cpt.coe.int/en/annual/rep-19.pdf

10. The European Convention on Human Rights ( ECHR),drafted by the then newly formed Council of Europe, entered
into force on September 3, 1953.
On the internet: http://conventions.coe.int/treaty/en/Treaties/Html/005.htm

11. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights ( UDHR), adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10,
1948.
On the internet: http://www.udhr.org/UDHR/default.htm

12. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ( ICCPR), adopted by the UN General Assembly on
December 16, 1966.
On the internet: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/ccpr.htm

13. UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Refugee Protection: A Guide to International Refugee Law, 1 December
2001.
On the internet: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/3cd6a8444.html

93

14. Christoph Grabenwarter, Europische Menschenrechtskonvention, Publisher: C. H. Beck, 2007.

15. Decisions of the European Court on Human Rights (ECtHR)

Aydin vs. Turkey, September 25, 1979, App. No. 23178/94

Ireland vs. United Kingdom, January 18, 1978, App. No. 5310/71

Tyrer vs. United Kingdom, April 25, 1978, App. No. 5856/72

Amuur vs. France, June 25, 1996, App. No. 19776/92

Makaratzis v. Greece, December 20, 2004, App. No. 50385/99

Celniku v. Greece, July 5, 2007, App. No. 21449/04

Zelilof v. Greece, May 24, 2007, App. No. 17060/03

Alsayed Allaham v. Greece, January 18, 2007, App. No. 25771/03

Petropoulu-Tsakiris v. Greece, December 6, 2007, App. No. 44803/04

Xhavara v. Italy and Albania, January 11, 2001, App. No. 39473/98

Soering v. United Kingdom, July 7, 1989, App. No. 14038/88

Cruz Varas v. Sweden, July 11, 1990, App. No. 15576/89

Vilvarajah and Others v. United Kingdom, July 11, 1990, App. Nos. 13163/87, 13164/87, 13165/87, 13447/87,
13448/87

Chahal v. United Kingdom, November 15, 1996, App. No. 70/1995/576/662

Ahmed v. Austria. September 11, 1995, App. No. 25964/94

TI v. United Kingdom, March 7, 2000. App. No. 43844/98

Saadi v. Italy, February 22, 2008, App. No. 37201/06

Ben Khemais v. Italy, February 24, 2009, App. No. 246/07

O. v. Italy, March 24, 2009, App. No. 37257/06

Sellem v. Italy, May 5, 2009, App. No. 12584/08

On the internet: The HUDOC database of the ECtHR:


http://www.echr.coe.int/ECHR/EN/Header/Case-Law/Decisions+and+judgments/HUDOC+database/

16. Jim Murdoch, The treatment of prisoners European standards, 2006, Publisher: The Council of Europe

94

17. Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Implications of European Union Internal Security Proposals and Measures in
the Aftermath of the 11 September Attacks in the United States, November 2001.
On the internet: http://www.hrw.org/press/2001/11/eusecurity.htm

18. Principles on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment (General Assembly Resolution 55/89, December 4 2000).
On the internet: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/investigation.htm
19. Pushed back, Pushed Around by Human Rights Watch, September 2009.
On the internet: http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/09/21/pushed-back-pushed-around-0

20. The United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Reg. Nr. 2545, Geneva 28 July 1951,entered
into force on April 22, 1954.
On the internet: http://untreaty.un.org/cod/avl/ha/prsr/prsr.html

21. Refugee protection and international migration: A review of UNHCR' s operational role in southern Italy,
September 2009.
On the internet: http://www.unhcr.org/4ac35c600.html

22. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 10 December 1982, in force since 16 November, 1994.
On the internet: http://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/convention_overview_convention.htm

23. The UN Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) of 1 November 1974, in force since 25 May 1980.
On the internet: http://www.imo.org/about/conventions/listofconventions/pages/international-convention-for-the-safetyof-life-at-sea-%28solas%29,-1974.aspx

24. The UN Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) of 27 April 1979, in force since 22 June 1985.
On

the

internet:

http://www.imo.org/About/Conventions/ListOfConventions/Pages/International-Convention-on-

Maritime-Search-and-Rescue-%28SAR%29.aspx

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