Σάββατο, 22 Μαΐου 2010

Inhuman Bondage of a Child

From: www.unhcr.org


Inhuman bondage of a child
Publisher: Eleftherotypia
Author: By Katerina Kati
Language: English


Rozita Sarefi has been locked up in Greek prisons for the past 10 months. She has been detained in two correctional facilities and has been "hosted" in many "light and airy" police station holding facilities.

There were times when there was not enough room to even lie down on the floor. As many as 18 people were being held in one six-square-meter basement. She caught scabies and is continuously getting sick. She was taken to hospital twice.

Rozita Sarefi is just three and a half years old. She's an Afghan.

She's a little soul who has been locked up in a sunless cell since last December when she was "arrested" together with her parents who tried to leave the country with forged documents. And their detention continues... because their deportation is not yet possible in the Greece of 2009, which is now caught up in a "grand" pre-election period.

Despite the new legislation that says that "in cases of a suspended sentence of a foreigner under article 99 paragraph 1 and 2 of the Penal Code, his/her detention for the purpose of deportation cannot be extended for a period that exceeds a month".

What's happened?

Last December, the court of Kilkis sentenced the little girl's parents to six months in prison and a fine of 3,000 euros for the possession and use of forged documents. The sentence was suspended indefinitely under articles 99 and 2 of the Penal Code. There was no interpreter or lawyer at the trial and the couple from Afghanistan was in no position to appeal this decision.

At first, they were detained with the baby at a Border Guard Station in Polykastro and then they were taken to the Police Station in Thessaloniki from where they were transferred to the Korydalos prison in Athens. Today, the baby girl and her mother are being held at the women's correctional facility in Thiva.

Last Friday, a court in Thiva heard an objection submitted by Rozita's mother, Zahra, who is appealing for asylum in our country.

The lawyer Elektra Koutra, president of the non-governmental organization Hellenic Action for Human Rights, stressed that deportation may only take place if the asylum application is rejected and if Zahra is issued a passport by the closest consulate of Afghanistan which is located in Belgium. None of the two is certain.

The president of the local Afghan community association "Noor" testified as a witness. He argued that the family will be put in danger if deported because they are members of the Hazara ethnic group and also that the region they are from is under Taliban rule.

He said that Zahra and the girl can be hosted by a family friend who resides legally in the country, while his association will find employment for the family. The NGO "Hellenic Action for Human Rights" stated it can provide legal aid and that it will intervene so the family receives psychological and social support and medical treatment.

The court, in a unanimous decision, rejected the appeal deciding that the deportation to Afghanistan is possible and thus their detention must continue until they are deported.

Ms Koutra expressed "surprise and sadness" at the decision. She announced the case will be taken to the European Court of Human Rights, which has already ruled that the detention of foreigners awaiting deportation at police detention facilities and under inhuman and degrading conditions is a violation of article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights (case Kaja vs Greece).

"Unfortunately," says the lawyer, "the story of Zahra is just one more example of the inability of the Greek authorities to solve, legally, the problem that arises when deportation is not possible. It's also another example of the violations of the rights of foreigners."

http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/refdaily?pass=463ef21123&date=2009-09-24&cat=Europe
Refugees Daily
Refugees Global Press Review
Compiled by Media Relations and Public Information Service, UNHCR
For UNHCR Internal Distribution

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