Roma Rights 1, 2010: Implementation of Judgments
26th, July, 2010
Greece’s Non-Implementation of International (Quasi-)Judicial Decisions on Roma Issues
Greece has one of the highest percentages of Roma in its population among European countries; Roma make up some 3-4% of the country’s total population. Half of them live in destitute settlements and are subjected to both racist attitudes by the general population and severe discrimination by authorities. This is well reported, not only by NGOs, but also in all reports on Greece from the United Nations and Council of Europe human rights bodies. Additionally, a series of (quasi-)judicial decisions regarding some aspects of that discrimination, namely racist police violence, inadequate housing and evictions and exclusion from or segregation in education have been ignored by Greek authorities.
Access to adequate housing
In a decision taken on 11 December 2009 and made public on 26 May 2010 with regard to the collective complaint International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights (INTERIGHTS) v Greece,2 the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) held unanimously that Greece violated Article 16 of the European Social Charter (Charter) on the grounds that the different situation of Romani families is not sufficiently taken into account with the result that a significant number of Romani families continue to live in conditions that fail to meet minimum standards; that Romani families continue to be forcibly evicted in breach of the Charter; and that the legal remedies generally available are not sufficiently accessible to them.
In the 2009 decision, the ECSR recalled that in its previous decision of 8 December 2004 in European Roma Rights Centre v Greece3 it had found that the situation in Greece was in breach of Article 16 of the Charter. In that decision, the ESCR found: there was an insufficiency of permanent dwellings available for Roma and an insufficient number of temporary dwellings or sites which meant that many Roma were living in unacceptable conditions; it also found that the situation in Greece was in breach of Article 16 of the Charter on the grounds inter alia that Roma were often forcibly evicted, contrary to the requirements of the Charter. The Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) was the main source of information for these complaints and worked closely with the two complainant organisations; the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and INTERIGHTS.
By recalling its 2004 decision, the ECSR was in fact criticising Greece for having failed to adopt the necessary measures to implement the decision taken five years earlier. The Greek Government had provided the ECSR with information on progress achieved in ameliorating the living conditions of Roma. According to this information, 9,000 housing loans had been approved and over 5,000 disbursed, a permanent settlement in Messinia had been constructed and medical and social centres had been established. The Government also provided information on recent developments in anti-discrimination law. Moreover, concerning the substantial amount of evidence on alleged forced evictions submitted to the ECSR, the Government disputed the details of certain circumstances surrounding some of them.
The ECSR found that there is significant evidence that many Roma continue to live in settlements which fail to meet minimum standards. It based its assessment not only on material submitted by INTERIGHTS, but also on the other sources such as a report of the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights,4 the 2008 report of the Greek National Commission for Human Rights,5 the Greek Ombudsman’s 2007 annual report,6 the UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues’ report to the UN General Assembly following a 2008 visit to Greece,7 the report of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance8 and a report of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) on the housing conditions of Roma and Travellers in the EU.9 The ECSR referred in particular to the Spata settlement near Athens where Romani families live in prefabricated housing without electricity, running water or regular waste collection services; to the settlement in Aspropyrgos which has no basic public utilities; and to that in the city of Komotini as examples. The ECSR added that serious infrastructure deficiencies are to be found in many other settlements, as evidenced by the recommendations of the Greek Ombudsman (the national equality body), which stressed that arrangements should be made to include all Romani settlements in water and power supply and sewage networks.10
Countering the Government’s claim that the legislation provides adequate safeguards for the prevention of discrimination, the ECSR considered that in the case of Roma, merely ensuring identical treatment as a means of protection against any discrimination is not sufficient. In order to achieve equal treatment, differences must be taken into account. The ECSR emphasised that the specific differences of Roma were not sufficiently taken into account and therefore Roma were subject to discrimination when it came to the enjoyment of the right to housing under Article 16 of the Charter.
The ECSR concluded that the Greek Government had failed to provide information demonstrating that the law on evictions in Greece provides for consultation with those to be affected, reasonable notice of and information on the eviction and the provision of alternative accommodation. The Government had also failed to respond adequately to the allegations that Romani families are not adequately consulted prior to being forcibly evicted in practice and that no serious efforts are made to find alternative sites or accommodation. As regards the accessibility of existing legal remedies it appeared to the ECSR that many Romani families are not sufficiently aware of their right to challenge an eviction notice, do not know how to exercise it and/or simply do not avail themselves of their right to legal aid.
Affirming that there was sufficient material both in the complaint and in the external sources listed above to substantiate the claim that a significant number of Roma continue to be unlawfully evicted in breach of the Charter, the Committee referred inter alia to the forced evictions of Roma in Patras, Votanikos (Athens) and Chania. It further noted that in 2007, the Greek Ombudsman found cases of forced eviction where no alternative housing had been identified with the necessary infrastructure to ensure dignified living conditions and recommended that this practice cease. Finally, the ECSR concluded that the legal remedies available in Greece cannot be considered to be sufficiently accessible. The special circumstances of Romani families threatened by eviction imply that special support should be available including targeted advice on availability of legal aid and on appeals.
In a related development, Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, met with Theodora Tzakri, Deputy Minister of Interior, Decentralization and e-Governance of Greece in Athens in February 2010; during the meeting the issue of unauthorised Romani settlements was discussed.11 The Commissioner provided copies of two letters that were sent in 200612 and 200713 to the then Minister of Interior to which he had not received a reply.
In the 2006 letter, Commissioner Hammarberg mentioned that although abusive decisions about evictions are often taken at the local level, this does not absolve the central Government from responsibility under its international obligations. He added that the State should exercise oversight and, if necessary, regulate local action. It was reported that during a brief visit in September 2006 to Patras he saw Romani families living in very poor conditions including a family whose simple home had been bulldozed away that day. It was obvious that the “procedure” for making the family homeless was carried out in total contradiction to well-established human rights standards. Commissioner Hammarberg was also disturbed that non-Romani people appeared on both sites during his visit and behaved in an aggressive, threatening manner to the extent that his interviews with some of the Romani families were disturbed. He had expected that the police would have offered more obvious protection and he did not get the impression of a principled, clear position by the local authorities against such xenophobic, anti-Gypsy tendencies. He concluded with a request for further information on the measures taken to compensate and relocate Romani families after eviction or “administrative suspension” and on their security of tenure in current housing.
In his second letter, following a visit to Athens in December 2007, Commissioner Hammarberg asked for the Minister’s urgent attention to the situation in the Athens municipality, in Votanikos, where a large number of Roma were facing imminent eviction. This case was known since at least the summer of 2007 but no alternative and acceptable accommodation had been found. He expressed his extreme concern about the grave consequences such an action would have on these vulnerable people, many of whom were children. He reported to have been informed that the local and regional authorities, who bore the main responsibility on the ground, had so far either not reacted at all or failed to take adequate measures in response to the constructive proposals made by the Greek Ombudsman. He recalled that alternatives to evictions – or removal by “administrative sanction” due to illegal occupation of property – should be sought in genuine consultation with the people affected and adequate resettlement alternatives have to be offered by responsible authorities. The Commissioner added that this, apparently, had not been the case in Votanikos although this problem had been known to the responsible authorities for a considerable amount of time. This was not acceptable under any circumstances. He asked the Minister to do everything possible to ensure that the local and regional authorities take urgent measures to find and offer adequate alternative accommodation and that the evictions be postponed until a solution was found. He then requested further information on the measures taken to ensure that these and other vulnerable Roma are not evicted from their dwellings without adequate protection and alternative accommodation.
Following the 2006 and 2007 letters, the Minister of Interior did not take any action to prevent the subsequent evictions of Roma in Patras and Athens. Although she responded, Deputy Minister Tzakri did not provide any of the information requested by the Commissioner.14
On 22 June 2007, GHM filed a communication to the UN Human Rights Committee on behalf of the Patras Romani family whose eviction was reported in the Commissioner’s December 2006 letter. Moreover, on 20 October 2007, GHM and the ERRC filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR or the Court) on behalf of 16 Roma evicted from Votanikos in Athens,15 following the Commissioner’s 2007 letter. Decisions by both (quasi-)judicial bodies are pending.
The Council of Europe’s expert bodies have therefore repeatedly cited Greece for the violation of Roma housing rights, in general and in specific communities. Greek authorities have consistently failed to take any action to remedy the situation and they have ignored or not responded adequately to the decisions, reports and letters sent to them by those institutions.
Access to equal education
On 5 June 2008, the ECtHR published its judgment in Sampanis and Others v Greece, a case filed by GHM on behalf of 11 parents from the Psari, Aspropyrgos Romani community.16 The Court held unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR or the Convention) in conjunction with Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 (right to education) on the basis of a State failure to provide schooling for the applicants’ children and of their subsequent placement in separate classes because of their Romani origin. The Court also found a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the Convention. The Court concluded that, in spite of the authorities’ stated willingness to educate Romani children, the effective conditions of school enrolment for Romani children and their placement in special preparatory classes – in a separate “annex” to the 10th Primary School – ultimately resulted in discrimination against them.
Following the judgment, on 22 September 2008, a European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) delegation visited the Psari community and the school annex, along with a GHM and Minority Rights Group-Greece (MRG-G) delegation. In 2009 ECRI issued a report on Greece elaborating the continuing problems of Roma school segregation in general and in particular in the Psari, Aspropyrgos Romani community.17 During its visit, the delegation met with the Mayor of Aspropyrgos on 25 September 2008, where he expressed his hostility towards Roma. In its report, ECRI expressed its concern that Roma remain at a great disadvantage with regard to education; there are still cases of schools refusing to register Romani children for attendance, in some instances due to pressure from some non-Romani parents; and there are also cases of Romani children being separated from other children within the same school or in the vicinity. It then referred to the ECtHR judgment in the Psari, Aspropyrgos case. ECRI urged the Greek authorities to strengthen the measures taken to address the problems faced by Romani children in education, with the main focus on exclusion, discrimination and under-performance in full compliance with the Court’s judgment in Sampanis and Others v Greece18 and ECRI’s General Policy Recommendation No. 10 on combating racism and racial discrimination in and through school education.19
Two weeks before the ECRI visit, on 9 September 2008, UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues Gay McDougall (UN IEMI) met with Ministry of Education officials to discuss implementation of Sampanis and Others v Greece and the access of Psari Romani children to school. The next day she visited the Psari community and the school annex, along with GHM and MRG-G. In the ensuing report,20 Ms McDougall reported that in Psari, Aspropyrgos, education for the settlement’s children remains a highly controversial issue and that as of the publication of her report, Greece had not satisfactorily resolved the situation in compliance with the European Court ruling. At the time of the visit, the Romani children were placed in the same “annex” of the main school that was condemned by the European Court judgment. Community members and civil society representatives believed that pressure from parents and the local authorities was a significant factor in the children’s exclusion. The UN IEMI provided details about that school annex which consists of a fenced, concrete compound with two metal prefabricated units, one of which was used for teaching. The report noted that the teaching unit had been vandalised – which was never investigated - and had no teaching facilities such as desks and chairs. A permanent security presence was required to guard against further vandalism, not carried out by Roma themselves. During the visit, Ministry of Education representatives acknowledged continuing problems regarding education of Roma. They agreed that significant challenges stem from local authorities and from communities that do not want Roma to attend mainstream schools, resulting in some cases in “branches” of schools being opened for Roma. The Ministry of Education indicated that it would integrate the annex into the main school by the end of October 2008.
However, the Ministry, with the help of the Greek Ombudsman, tried to integrate the annex into the new 11th Primary School, not the 10th Primary School which is closest to the Romani settlement (closer than the annex itself) and was the subject of the case. The 11th Primary School is not only further away but is on the other side of the major closed highway (Attiki Odos) and is located in another school district. However, this also failed because of opposition of the Mayor of Aspropyrgos, as detailed below.
In a 29 December 2008 letter to GHM, the Ombudsman reported that the decision to move the Romani pupils to the 11th Primary School rather than the nearby 10th Primary School had been made following an on-site visit of the Ministry of Education’s Deputy Ombudsman for Children, the Special Secretary for Intercultural Education, the regional education director and the headmasters of the 10th and 11th primary schools; most likely before the ECRI visit. No representative of the Romani community or the 12th Primary School (as the segregated school annex to the 10th Primary School had been renamed) headmaster was present. On 24 September 2008, regional education authorities asked the Aspropyrgos Municipal Education Committee to approve the merger of the 12th School into the 11th School, alerting them that the operation was being watched by EU institutions [sic] and the Ombudsman following complaints against the country. After the Mayor met with ECRI, on 25 September 2008 the Aspropyrgos Municipal Education Committee supposedly met and rejected the proposal “to merge the 12th with the 11th Primary School with the raising of a separation wall that would indeed point at the Athinganoi and will accentuate the problems of order and co-existence between the repatriated Pontic brethren and the children of the passers-by Romani tent-dwellers.”21
The decision clearly referred to the plan to raise a separation wall so that there is no contact between Romani and non-Romani pupils. It also made clear that municipal authorities favoured the Pontics (calling them “brethren”), while they were hostile if not racist towards the Roma, whom they called passers-by (διερχόμενοι) even though many have lived in Aspropyrgos longer than most Pontics.22
Regional educational authorities insisted on the merger. On 2 October 2008, regional education authorities reported the opposition of the municipality and non-Romani parents to the merger and the detailed arguments – most obviously racist – of the local Parents Association. The Mayor instigated a sit-in at the 11th School with the parents on 6 October 2008 to protest plans to transfer the 12th School. He publicly supported the sit-in with a letter full of racist language and attacks against those advocating for Roma rights which he sent to the Minister of Education and the regional education authorities along with a similar letter from the 11th School Parents Association. The following excerpt shows that the annex of the 10th Primary School, now the 12th Primary School, was created not because of any space reasons but because of a deliberate racially-discriminatory decision:
The establishment of the 12th Primary School was in no way intended by the Municipality or the Citizenry of Aspropyrgos to impose the segregation of Athinganoi children from the other pupils attending schools in the district. It became instead an unavoidable necessity because tent-dwelling Athinganoi themselves choose to live a nomadic life; their day-to-day living amidst garbage dumps of their own making; their indifference to rudimentary standards of hygiene, and, mainly, their persistence in illegal activities that have a negative impact primarily on vulnerable social groups, but also on the residents of Aspropyrgos in general.23
On 17 October 2008, the Prefect of Western Attica rejected the move of the 12th Primary School into the building of the 11th Primary School and the construction of a separation wall.
In their 1072nd meeting on 3 December 2009, the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers in charge of overseeing the execution of Court judgments published a related decision. They noted with interest the information provided at the meeting by Greek authorities on the individual measures taken to allow the schooling of the applicants’ children in ordinary classes, as well as on general measures aimed at including Romani children in the education system in a non-discriminatory manner. They noted that this information needed to be evaluated in depth and invited the Greek authorities to submit it in the form of a detailed action plan/action report. Finally, they decided to resume consideration of the execution of the judgment at their 1086th meeting in June 2010.24 At that meeting the Deputies decided to resume consideration of this item at the latest at their 1100th meeting in December 2010 in the light of the information already provided and on possible further information to be provided on individual and general measures.
The Committee also noted that information on individual and general measures was sent by the applicants’ representative, GHM, in December 2009, and by the Greek authorities in January and March 2010. All information submitted is currently under examination. In its materials submitted in December 2009,25 GHM provided detailed documentation showing that neither of the Greek State’s claims were accurate: Romani children of the Psari, Aspropyrgos Romani community continued to attend the same segregated school rather than being schooled in ordinary classes; and segregated classes or schools only for Romani children continued to exist throughout Greece, contrary to the Government’s claim that Romani children were integrated in the education system in a non-discriminatory manner.
Indeed, on 30 May 2009, GHM and MRG-G wrote to Mr Stefanos Vlastos, the Ministry of Education’s then-Special Secretary for Cross-Cultural Education, about the lack of access to non-segregated education of Romani children in Psari, Aspropyrgos, and three other communities, one of them being Sofades (Karditsa – Thessaly). After not receiving an answer, on 20 July 2009, GHM and MRG-G wrote to Mr Aris Spiliotopoulos, the then-Minister of Education, appending parental authorisation from the three communities: for Psari they asked that the pupils attend the 10th School (mainstream) or that, if necessary, a school annex be created temporarily by the settlement. They also requested that a special support programme for the Romani pupils’ integration be launched like the one which proved to be successful for Muslim Roma in Thrace. Both letters remained unanswered and were made public on 1 August 2009.26
On 27 August 2009, GHM and MRG-G sent an urgent complaint to the Greek Ombudsman, and attached the unanswered letter to the Ministry of Education. On 12 March 2010, the Ombudsman responded that it had decided not to act upon the merits of the complaint: this was the second refusal to act on a GHM complaint against the continued racial segregation of the Romani pupils at the Psari, Aspropyrgos school (filed in September 2008).27
In 2009-2010 the segregation of Romani pupils continued in Psari, Aspropyrgos and Sofades (and in many other schools around Greece) contrary to what Greek authorities were reported to have assured the Committee of Ministers at its December 2009 meeting.
As a result of the above on 7 October 2009, GHM filed an application with the ECtHR on behalf of 140 Roma residing in Psari, Aspropyrgos (98 children of mandatory school age and 42 parents or legal guardians). Subsequently, on 29 December 2009, GHM filed another application with the Court on behalf of 23 residents of the Sofades New Roma Housing Unit (15 children of mandatory school age and 8 parents). From May-July 2010, in cooperation with the ERRC, GHM and MRG-G collected information about dozens of Romani communities throughout the country. GHM, MRG-G and the ERRC sent requests to the Minister of Education to secure non-discriminatory access of the respective Romani pupils to education in September 2010; for many of whom such access had been denied in 2009-2010.
Freedom from police violence
On 22 April 2010, the ECtHR published its fourth judgment on police violence against Roma in Greece. In Stefanou v Greece the Court ruled that Greece violated Article 3 (torture or inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment) and Article 6.1 (excessive length of proceedings) of the ECHR for the ill-treatment of a 16-year-old Romani boy named Theodore Stefanou.28
Of the three previous ECtHR convictions against Greece for police violence against Roma, the first ruling, issued on 13 December 2005 in a case filed by GHM and the ERRC, concerned the ill-treatment of 18-year-old Romani youths, Lazaros Bekos and Eleftherios Koutropoulos, on 8 May 1998. Greece was found to have violated Articles 3 (torture or inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment; absence of effective investigation) and 14 (non-investigation of racial motive).29
The second ruling, issued on 21 June 2007 in a case filed by GHM, concerned the shooting of a 17-year-old Romani youth, Ioannis Karagiannopoulos, on 26 January 1998, rendering him an invalid. Greece was found to have violated Article 2 in substance (injury that caused permanent disability by police) and in procedure (absence of effective investigation).30
The third ruling, issued on 6 December 2007, in a case filed by GHM and the ERRC, concerned the ill-treatment of a 20-year-old Romani woman, Fani-Yannula Petropoulou-Tsakiris, on 28 January 2002. Greece was found to have violated Article 3 (absence of effective investigation of ill-treatment by police) and Article 14 (non-investigation of racial motive and racist behaviour).31
Moreover, on 24 July 2008, in a case submitted by the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) and GHM, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC) found that Greece violated Article 2.3 (right to an effective remedy) read together with Article 7 (prohibition of torture) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) concerning the lack of an effective investigation into the allegations of police brutality against a 21-year-old Romani man, Andreas Kalamiotis, on 14 June 2001.32
In addition to these five Roma-related police violence cases, there have been seven other Greek police violence cases (four filed by GHM) that led to the finding of similar violations by the ECtHR or the HRC since December 2004.
In December 2010, the Committee of Ministers will once again examine Greece’s execution of the non-pecuniary aspects in the eight police violence-related judgments that have become final (out of a total of ten).33 Concerning the Roma-related cases, in a letter dated 10 June 2009 Greek authorities informed the Committee of Ministers that in the case of Karagiannopoulos and that of Bekos and Koutropoulos, new investigations would not be possible because domestic criminal proceedings ended in the acquittal of the accused police officers. On the other hand, concerning the Petropoulou-Tsakiris case, whose merits were never examined by domestic courts, the competent State Prosecutor informed the Greek Government that a new investigation would be carried out following the Court’s judgment. However, one year later this investigation had yet to be launched.
In addition, on 14-15 October 2008, a high level meeting took place in Athens between the Committee of Ministers secretariat and Greek authorities during which questions relating to the individual measures in all these police violence cases were raised. Following this meeting, Greek authorities undertook to set up promptly, and at the latest before June 2009, a committee with three independent members who would be competent to assess the possibility of opening new administrative investigations in cases in which investigatory failures were found by the ECtHR.34 One year later, this committee had yet to be formed.
In the agenda of its December 2010 meeting, the Committee noted that additional information is expected related to the investigation resumed in the Petropoulou-Tsakiris case and on the legislative developments concerning the establishment of the independent committee and is prerogatives.35
Concerning the follow-up of the Kalamiotis case, the HRC recommended an effective remedy and appropriate reparation.36 The Greek State refused to decide on an award for compensation and recommended that the author of the communication institute an action for compensation for damages suffered due to his ill-treatment.37
OMCT and GHM, on behalf of the victim, submitted to the HRC that the State party had in effect rejected the Committee’s Views, referring to the Minister of Justice’s 22 September 2008 response to a parliamentary question in which he refuted the Committee’s decision. OMCT and GHM informed the HRC that there is no indication that any domestic investigation will be re-opened to ensure punishment of the police officers involved. They attached information sent from the State party to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe concerning the execution of judgments of the ECtHR, in which it refers to the State party’s intention to have the competent prosecutor re-examine the files of certain cases. In Mr Kalamiotis’ view, the same procedure should be applied in his case.
As to Greece’s claim that the author should seek compensation by filing a lawsuit, OMCT and GHM submitted that the limitation period for such claims is five years and thus expired on 31 December 2006. Moreover, Greek administrative courts are extremely slow at considering these types of cases (on average it takes 8-10 years), which is why the ECtHR has found many cases of excessive length violations against the State party. OMCT and GHM argued that this was not the most appropriate procedure, as this administrative court is normally full of cases which first demand a finding of liability of the State and then a decision as to the quantity of compensation. In the current case, it is merely a question of the amount of compensation to be awarded, a measure which the Greek Legal Council of State has the authority to approve. As the State party has acknowledged, the Views are equivalent to the judgments of the ECtHR and constitute res judicata, leaving only the question of the amount of compensation to be decided.38 Thus, the amounts awarded in similar Greek cases by the ECtHR can serve as a fair basis for Mr Kalamiotis’ compensation through a similar decision of the Legal Council of State and the Minister of Economy and Finance.
In reply, the State party noted that the Views did not hold that the victim had been ill-treated but that there were deficiencies in the procedure of the ongoing inquiry. Thus, the civil liability of the State can only be founded on the judgment of a court, the latter of which will also consider the issue of the limitation period of the author’s claim. Any time limit for a claim against the State only starts running from the time it can be pursued. The State party argued that no one can foresee the outcome of a domestic remedy or question its efficiency without giving domestic courts the chance to consider a claim for compensation after the adoption of the Views.
In its October 2009 session, the HRC approved the Rapporteur’s recommendation that a meeting be organised with the State party.39
Greek authorities as a rule do not execute international (quasi-)judicial decisions in cases related to Roma (as well as in cases related to non-Roma). Greek authorities did very little to implement the ECSR decision on Roma housing and evictions: as a result, when faced with a new collective complaint, the ECSR found Greece to have violated once again the same Charter provisions and for the same reasons. For more than three years, two Ministers of Interior refused to provide answers to the Commissioner for Human Rights on the specific cases of evictions he had expressed concern about. Greek education authorities refused to send the Romani children to a desegregated school after an ECtHR judgment. Instead, they tried to “hide” the segregated school in the building of another school for non-Roma with a separation wall between the two but anti-Roma local authorities refused even that. Furthermore, Greek authorities misinformed the Council of Europe that they did integrate the Romani pupils concerned and that they were making efforts to include Romani pupils in schools in a non-discriminatory manner, even though the country is full of segregated schools and classes. Finally, the Greek Government made vague commitments to the Council of Europe and the United Nations about possible remedies in cases of police violence, none of which they effectively pursued.
As long as the competent bodies of the Council of Europe (Committee of Ministers and Commissioner for Human Rights) and the United Nations (Human Rights Council) do not publicly cite Greece for non-compliance with its international obligations or even consider possible sanctions, the violations found by the international (quasi-)judicial bodies will continue. In this situation, the best that Roma (and non-Roma) can hope for is a decision by these bodies that will vindicate them and award a small amount of compensation many years after their rights were violated, provided they can afford a lawyer or find an NGO able to take their cases to these institutions.
- Panayote Dimitras is the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) Spokesperson.
- European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR), International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights (INTERIGHTS) v Greece: Decision on the Merits, Complaint No. 49/2008, 11 December 2009, available at: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/socialcharter/Complaints/CC49Merits_en.pdf.
- ECSR, European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) v Greece: Decision on the Merits, Complaint No. 15/2003, 8 December 2004, available at: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/socialcharter/Complaints/CC15Merits_en.pdf.
- Commissioner for Human Rights, Follow up Report on the Hellenic Republic (2002-2005), 29 March 2006, available at: https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=984125&Site=CommDH&BackColorInternet=FEC65B&BackColorIntranet=FEC65B&Back?
- Greek National Commission on Human Rights, Report and Recommendations of the NCHR on Issues Concerning the Situation and Rights of the Roma in Greece, 18 February 2009, available at: http://daccess-ods.un.org/TMP/6192327.73780823.html.
- Greek Ombudsman, Promoting equal treatment - The Greek Ombudsman as national equality body: Report 2007, 15 March 2008, available at: http://www.synigoros.gr/diakriseis/pdfs/isi-metax-engl-2007-teliko.pdf.
- UN Human Rights Council (HRC), Report of the Independent Expert on Minority Issues, Gay McDougall – Addendum – Mission to Greece (8-16 September 2008), 18 February 2009, available at: http://daccess-ods.un.org/TMP/8696818.html.
- European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), ECRI Report on Greece (fourth monitoring cycle), 15 September 2009, available at: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/ecri/Country-by-country/Greece/GRC-CbC-IV-2009-031-ENG.pdf.
- European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Greece RAXEN National Focal Point, Housing Conditions of Roma and Travellers, October 2009, available at: http://fra.europa.eu/fraWebsite/attachments/RAXEN-Roma%20Housing-Greece_en.pdf.
- Greek Ombudsman, Promoting equal treatment - The Greek Ombudsman as national equality body: Report 2007.
- Commissioner for Human Rights, Letter to Theodora Tzakri, Deputy Minister of Interior, Decentralization and e-Governance of Greece, 8 March 2010, available at: https://wcd.coe.int/com.instranet.InstraServlet?command=com.instranet.CmdBlobGet&InstranetImage=1538638&SecMode=1&DocId=1565476&?
- Commissioner for Human Rights, Letter to Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Hellenic Minister for the Interior, Public Administration & Decentralisation, 1 December 2006, available at: http://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1100661&BackColorInternet=FEC65B&BackColorIntranet=FEC65B&BackColorLogged=FFC679.
- Commissioner for Human Rights, Letter to Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Minister for the Interior, Public Administration & Decentralisation, 19 December 2007, available at: https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1413785&Site=CommDH&BackColorInternet=FEC65B&BackColorIntranet=FEC65B&BackColor?Logged=FFC679.
- Theodora Tzakri, Deputy Minister of Interior, Decentralization and e-Governance of Greece, Letter to Commissioner for Human Rights, 13 April 2010, available at: https://wcd.coe.int/com.instranet.InstraServlet?command=com.instranet.CmdBlobGet&InstranetImage=1538650&SecMode=1&DocId=1565486&?
- European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), Demir Ibishi and Others against Greece, Application no. 47236/07, Statement of facts, 4 February 2009, available at: http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action=html&documentId=847297&portal=hbkm&source=externalbydocnumber&table=?F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649.
- ECtHR, Sampanis and Others v Greece, Application no. 32526/05, 5 June 2008, available at: http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action=html&documentId=836273&portal=hbkm&source=externalbydocnumber&table=?F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649.
- ECRI, Report on Greece (fourth monitoring cycle). ECRI also reported that Roma living in inadequate settlements also face at best indifference and at worst hostility (“as noted in Aspropyrgos”) on the part of some local authorities and non-Roma.
- ECtHR, Sampanis and Others v Greece.
- ECRI, General Policy Recommendation No. 10 on combating racism and racial discrimination in and through school education, 15 December 2006, available at: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/ecri/activities/gpr/en/recommendation_n10/eng-recommendation%20nr%2010.pdf.
- HRC, Report of the Independent Expert on Minority Issues, Gay McDougall – Addendum – Mission to Greece (8-16 September 2008).
- Aspropyrgos Municipal Education Committee, Minutes 4/2008: 25 September 2008 (on file with GHM). “Athinganoi” is the term used for administrative purposes for Roma in Greek.
- Pontics are Greeks repatriated from the former Soviet Union.
- Municipality of Aspropyrgos, press release of the Mayor’s letter, 6 October 2008, available at: http://www.aspropyrgos.gr/PressOfficeNewsView.action?newID=29.
- Committee of Ministers, Ministers’ Deputies Decisions CM/Del/Dec(2009)1072, 7 December 2009, available at: https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?Ref=CM/Del/Dec%282009%291072&Language=lanEnglish&Ver=immediat&Site=CM&BackColorInternet=?C3C3C3&BackColorIntranet=EDB021&BackColorLogged=F5D383.
- GHM, Memorandum on the Implementation by the Greek State of Individual and General Measures Flowing from the Sampanis and Others v Greece ECtHR Judgment (10 December 2009), available at: http://cm.greekhelsinki.gr/uploads/2010_files/memo_on_execution_of_sampanis_ecthr_judgment_?
- GHM and MRG-G, Greece: Systematic discrimination of Roma access to education despite conviction by ECtHR (August 2009), available at: http://cm.greekhelsinki.gr/index.php?sec=194&cid=3489.
- Greek Ombudsman, Letter to GHM and MRG-G, Reference. no. 15965/2009/4: 12 March 2010.
- ECtHR, Stefanou v Greece, Application no. 2954/07, 22 April 2010, available at: http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action=html&documentId=866810&portal=hbkm&source=externalbydocnumber&table=?F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649.
- ECtHR, Bekos and Koutropoulos v Greece, Application no. 15250/02, 13 December 2005, available at: http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action=html&documentId=790893&portal=hbkm&source=externalbydocnumber&table=?F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649.
- ECtHR, Karagiannopoulous v Greece, Application no. 27850/03, 21 June 2007, available at: http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action=html&documentId=819088&portal=hbkm&source=externalbydocnumber&table=?F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649.
- ECtHR, Petropoulou-Tsakiris v Greece, Application no. 44803/04, 6 December 2007, available at: http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action=html&documentId=826734&portal=hbkm&source=externalbydocnumber&table=?F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649.
- HRC, Kalamiotis v Greece, Communication no. 1486/2006, CCPR/C/93/D/1486/2006, 5 August 2008, available at: http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/undocs/1486-2006.pdf.
- Council of Europe, Cases or group of cases against Greece, available at: http://www.coe.int/t/DGHL/MONITORING/EXECUTION/Reports/Current/Greece_en.pdf, 18-22.
- On file with the author.
- HRC, Kalamiotis v Greece, Communication no. 1486/2006, CCPR/C/93/D/1486/2006, 5 August 2008.
- On file with the author.
- UN HRC summary of follow-up to the Kalamiotis case: September 2009 (on file with GHM).
- On file with the author.