Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe Visits Greece

07 November 2002

On September 11, 2002, Mr Alvaro Gil-Robles, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, presented a report to the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly on his official visit to Greece from June 2 to 5, 2002. The Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), an ERRC local partner in monitoring Roma rights in Greece, accompanied Mr Gil-Robles on a tour of two Romani settlements in Marousi, a suburb of Athens, located next to the existing Olympic stadium, and a Romani settlement Nea Zoe in Aspropyrgos, outside Athens, during his visit. In his report, Mr Gil-Robles stressed, "The fact remains that the Roma/Gypsy population of Greece is highly vulnerable and at a disadvantage in many areas such as access to health care, housing, employment or schooling. It is worrying to observe that the implementation of the action plan meets frequent resistance at local level […] Local authorities are sometimes unwilling to take in members of this minority group and to accept money from the state for improving their circumstances. […] While appreciating that the action plan cannot be carried through without support from the local institutions, it may be recalled that in the end it is up to the Greek government to implement official policy and thus to overcome any obstacles. At a more practical level, I wished to visit a place where some 20 Roma/Gypsy families are settled on the outskirts of Athens at Aspropyrgos. Words fail me in saying that I am grateful to the families for their reception, as these people live under conditions very remote from what is demanded by respect for human dignity, in particular without running water supplies among other essential services. […] At Aspropyrgos I was able to meet the sister of Mr Christopoulos, a young Roma/Gypsy killed by a policeman's bullet when refusing to obey in a vehicle check. The policeman was dismissed and a criminal proceedings are pending on this issue; during our conversation the Minister for Public Order Mr Chrysochoidis emphasised the policeman's thoughtless reaction." Information about the shooting death of Mr Marinos Christopoulos is available at: Killing of Romani man by police in Greece. According to Mr Gil-Robles report, following his presentation, the permanent representative of Greece assured the Committee of Ministers that all necessary measures had been taken to ensure that the Romani settlement at Aspropyrgos had been "provided with all public facilities." The Full text of Mr Gil-Robles report.

On September 22, 2002, the ERRC/GHM visited the Romani settlement at Aspropyrgos and noted that the settlement had not been provided with all public facilities and, indeed, conditions in the settlement remained exactly the same. Further, on September 23, 2002, the ERRC/GHM spoke to a representative of the Hellenic Police Personnel Division who confirmed that Officer Tyllianakis, the officer charged in connection with the death of Mr Christopoulos, had not been dismissed from duty. Officer Tyllianakis had only appeared before the First Instance Disciplinary Council of the Greek police on September 20, 2002, following Mr Gil-Robles's visit, in which Greek authorities assured him that Officer Tyllianakis had been suspended from duty, and presentation of his report, at which a representative of Greece was present. On October 3, 2002, the First Instance Disciplinary Council took a decision to dismiss Officer Tyllianakis. As of October 31, 2002, the ERRC/GHM was unaware of any further developments in the case.

(ERRC, GHM)

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