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Human Rights Council – Universal Periodic Review

For use of information media; not an official record

Date: Monday, 9 May 2011 (Morning)

Country under review: GREECE

Documents: National report A/HRC/WG.6/11/GRC/1;
Compilation of UN information A/HRC/WG.6/11/GRC/2;
Summary of stakeholders’ information A/HRC/WG.6/11/GRC/3;

Troika: Saudi Arabia, Russian Federation, Uganda

Concerned country - national report

- Represented by a 9 member delegation and headed by her Excellency Mrs. Maria Telalian, Head of the Public International Law Legal Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Introductory remarks

- Greece believes that the follow-up to the UPR recommendations is a prerequisite for the effectiveness and credibility of the UPR mechanism.
- Greece has ratified almost all of the core international human rights instruments and subscribes to several monitoring mechanisms, such as individual complaints under the relevant treaties and/or optional protocols.  
- Irregular migration and the improvement of asylum procedures is a foremost challenge facing Greece.
- Gender equality is an area where significant progress has been made over the years, yet the Government realizes that more needs to be done.
- The fight against discrimination in all its forms and manifestations is a priority of the Greek Government.

Interactive discussion

Number of States taking part in the discussion
Member States: 21 Inscribed on the list: 48
Observer States: 27

Positive achievements

- The process of preparing for the Universal Periodic Review sessions included consultations with civil society stakeholders and the National Commission for Human Rights.
- Most of the core international human rights instruments.
- Efforts made to tackle the problem prison overpopulation.
- Efforts made to enhance asylum procedures.
- Steps taken to prevent human rights abuses by the police and law enforcement officials, such as special training programs for police personnel.
- Proposals made in the Greek National Action Plan for Migration Management, and the recent legal framework for a new Asylum Service.
- The adoption of the Law 3304/2005 on equal treatment of individuals regardless of their racial or ethnic origin, religious or other beliefs, disability, age or sexual orientation.

Issues and questions raised

- The conditions in detention centre remain disturbing.
- The absence of national data on the incidence of child abuse and neglect.
- Insufficient legal aid and inadequate language interpretations for asylum seekers. What steps will Greece take to address the shortages of interpreters and to provide for unhindered access to a fair and effective asylum procedure?
- Could the Government of Greece outline the follow-up and the status of the implementation of the recommendations made by the Independent Expert on minority issues?
- What measures have been taken to better improve the humanitarian situation of asylum seekers?

Recommendations 

- Reduce the use of pre-trial detention, judicial review.
- Conduct swift and impartial investigations of cases of excessive use of force by the police and law enforcement officials.
- To establish an independent police complaints mechanism.
- Ensure that asylum seekers and irregular migrants are treated accordingly to Greece’s human rights obligation and strengthen all efforts to implement the National Action Plan on Asylum Reform and Migration Management.
- Ensure the effective and full implementation of the Law adopted in 2006 to fight domestic violence.
- Ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and implement the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment.
- Consider recognizing same-sex marriages.
- Intensify efforts to combat gender discrimination.
- Translating into Greek the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review and relevant Treaty Body concluding observations and Special Procedure country reports.
- Take immediate measures to ensure that all unaccompanied children are given a guardian and a safe residence upon arrival in Greece.
- Accelerate the process for the building of a Mosque in Votanikos, Athens, and consider opening one of the historical Mosques in Thessaloniki.
- Take necessary measures to ensure the election of the Muftis by the Turkish Muslim minority.
- Speed-up the process of reinstating the citizenships of approximately 60,000 Greek citizens who were dismissed from Greek citizenship.

Response of the concerned country

- Greece has recently signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.
- A draft law ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has already been elaborated and forwarded to the competent ministries.
- A National Action Plan on Migration and Management is currently being implemented.
- In order to improve asylum procedures, a Presidential Decree issued in 2010 provides for the creation of a flexible and decentralized mechanism, which will allow for a rapid review of asylum requests with the participation of the United Nations Refugee Agency.
- A law adopted in January 2011, provides for the establishment of an Asylum Agency and of a First Reception Service for Immigrants.
- In response to allegations of abuse by police personnel, a law adopted on 31 March, 2011, provides for the establishment, of an Office responsible for addressing instances of arbitrariness.
- Improvement of women’s employment rate between 2004 and 2008.
- A law to fight domestic violence was adopted in 2006. Counselling and support for victims, as well as training and awareness-raising are the main components of the strategy to combat domestic violence.
- Comprehensive legal and operational framework for combating trafficking in place.
- A National Coordination Mechanism, composed of representatives of all competent Ministries as well as the International Organization for Migration, has been created.
- Efforts to improve detention conditions.
- A regulatory framework for implementing the principle of equal treatment regardless of racial and ethnic origin, religious or other beliefs, and disability, age or sexual orientation.
- Commitment to build a Mosque in Athens.
- 2002- 2008 Action Plan with positive measures for Roma people.
- Persons belonging to the Muslim minority in Thrace are free to declare their origin, speak their language, exercise their religion and manifest particular customs and traditions.
- Sharia Law may be applied in Thrace for members of the Muslim minority on certain matters of family and inheritance law.
- Greece fully respects the human rights of each individual who declares they belong to an official group regardless of whether they are officially recognized as a minority or not.
- Withdrawal of Greek citizenship is predominantly related to Greek nationals who have renounced their Greek nationality. A special identity card is provided for stateless persons according to the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.
- The aim of the Government is to achieve gender equality in all spheres of life by introducing relevant legislation, gender equality policies and gender mainstreaming.
- Greek Ombudsman works towards combating non-discrimination. Patriarchal attitudes, however, have not been abolished.

Adoption of the report by the UPR working group scheduled on
Wednesday 11 May, 12:00 p.m.

More information

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/PAGES/GRSession11.aspx

 

ADOPTION OF THE REPORT ON LATVIA

The Universal Periodic Review Working Group today also adopted, ad referendum, the report on Latvia (A/HRC/WG.6/11/L.7), following the review of that country on Thursday, 5 May 2011.

The draft report includes 122 recommendations. Among them, 54 enjoy the support of Latvia; 17 were considered already implemented or in the process of implementation; 44 will be examined further by Latvia, which will provide responses in due time, but no later that the eighteenth session of the Human Rights Council in September 2011; and seven did not enjoy the support of Latvia.

The report will be made available here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/PAGES/LVSession11.aspx

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