Migrant Ill-treatment in Greek Law Enforcement—Are the Strasbourg Court Judgments the Tip of the Iceberg?

in European Journal of Migration and Law
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Numerous instances of migrant ill-treatment, including torture, in Greek law enforcement have been recorded over a long period of time by international human rights monitoring organisations. The frequent reporting of such incidents though was not accompanied by any major judgments by the Strasbourg Court until Alsayed Allaham and Zontul in 2007 and 2012 respectively. The article provides an analysis of these first major judgments which usefully shed light on the underlying, long-standing systemic failures of the Greek law, as well as of the law enforcement and judicial authorities’ practice. It is argued that the above judgments are in fact only the tip of the iceberg. For this, the author looks into the process of supervision of these judgments’ execution by Greece, which is pending before the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, as well as into alarming reports issued notably by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and the Greek Ombudsman. The article also highlights the question of racial violence that has not been tackled in the aforementioned judgments. However, the national Racist Violence Recording Network and the Greek Ombudsman have recorded numerous cases of racist violence by law enforcement officials targeting migrants and the ineffective response by the administrative and judicial authorities. The article concludes with certain recommendations in order to enhance Greek law and practice and eradicate impunity.

Migrant Ill-treatment in Greek Law Enforcement—Are the Strasbourg Court Judgments the Tip of the Iceberg?

in European Journal of Migration and Law



  • 9

    In 2016a total of 173450 migrants arrived by sea in Greece which is 80% lower than in 2015 (856723); see unhcrRefugees & Migrants Sea Arrivals in Europe monthly data update December 2016 at 4 available at: http://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/mediterranean?id=2388.

  • 20

    Judgment 365/2013 25 November 2013on file with the author. See press release on this case by Lawyers’ Group for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants 26 November 2013 in Greek http://omadadikigorwn.blogspot.fr/2013/11/blog-post_26.html.

  • 39

    CommDH(2009)4 12 March 2009available at: http://www.coe.int/en/web/commissioner/opinions.

  • 43

    Judgment 80 81 82/2014 14 February 2014on file with the author; see summary of case in Greek Helsinki Monitor ‘Contribution to the list of issues’ uncat 21 February 2014 p. 2 available at: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/TreatyBodyExternal/Countries.aspx?CountryCode=GRC&Lang=EN.

  • 47

    Application lodged on 5 July 2011communicated to the government on 2 September 2015. Communicated cases are available at: www.hudoc.echr.coe.int.

  • 48

    Application lodged on 21 January 2015communicated to the government on 22 February 2016.

  • 49

    Application lodged on 19 June 2012communicated to the government on 21 April 2016.

  • 50

    Application lodged on 13 April 2016communicated to the government on 25 November 2016.

  • 64

    Greek OmbudsmanAnnual Report 2007 pp. 46–48 (in Greek) available at: https://www.synigoros.gr/resources/docs/6adik_anth.pdf.

  • 66

    Ibid. pp. 22–24.

  • 67

    Ibid. p. 27.

  • 68

    Greek OmbudsmanAnnual Report 2015 p. 84 (in Greek) available at: https://www.synigoros.gr/resources/docs/ee2015-09-nomos.pdf.

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