Παρασκευή, 14 Ιουνίου 2013

GHM's Press Release of 10.6.13:Greece: Unlawful detention of lawyer Electra Koutra in the framework of police racial profiling operation against transgender persons in Thessaloniki

GREEK HELSINKI MONITOR (GHM)
Address: P.O. Box 60820, GR-15304 Glyka Nera
Telephone: (+30) 2103472259 Fax: (+30) 2106018760

PRESS RELEASE

10 June 2013

Greece: Unlawful detention of lawyer Electra Koutra
in the framework of police racial profiling operation against transgender persons in Thessaloniki   

Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) denounces the unlawful detention of lawyer Electra Koutra, President of the Hellenic Action for Human Rights and GHM legal counsel, in the early hours of 5 June 2013 at the Democratias Square Police Station in Thessaloniki when, in her capacity of lawyer for the Greek Transgendered Support Association, she went to defend a transgender person abusively detained for the third time in the last four days, in the framework of an extensive police operation of objectively wanton, apparently bullying and consequently unlawful detentions of transgender persons on the eve of Thessaloniki Pride (14-15 June 2013). We reproduce below the common public statement of 13 Greek NGOs and an updated description of the facts by the victim who is now also the subject of a complaint by the police officer against whom she had previously filed a complaint.[1] It is noteworthy that two parliamentary questions were tabled by the Radical Left Coalition – SYRIZA[2] and the Democratic Left – DIMAR[3] parties.

GHM appeals to the international NGOs and to the intergovernmental organizations, asking them to take appropriate action towards the Greek government demanding the punishment of those responsible for the abusive and unlawful detention of the human rights defender and lawyer as well as to put an end to the extensive use of racial profiling by police against migrants, Roma, transgender persons, drag addicts, HIV-positive etc.. It is to be recalled that recently Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, asked Greece to put an end to this practice.[4]

GHM recalls that similar was the experience of GHM legal counsel Theodore Alexandridis on 13 October 2005, when he went to the Aspropyrgos Police Station to file a complaint for the obstruction to Roma children’s access to a public school by non-Roma parents: he was then detained unlawfully because the police advised the parents against whom the complaint was filed to file a counter-complaint against the lawyer. For those events protests were filed by two international NGOs[5] (but by no Greek NGO…). While the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) convicted Greece for the exclusion of Roma children from school (Case of Sampanis v. Greece)[6] making reference to the 13 October 2005 events, Greek justice did not find any wrongdoing in the detention or even the pupils exclusion from school, despite the ECtHR judgment.        


Joint Public Statement
                                                                                              
Athens 6 June 2013

We are expressing our profound concern over accusations made by the Board of the Hellenic Action for Human Rights (HAHUR) ‘Pleiades’ in today’s press release[7] regarding the treatment of the President of HAHUR lawyer Electra-Leda Koutra by police officers at the Democracy Square Police Station in Thessaloniki in the early hours on Wednesday 5 June 2013. We are demanding a prompt independent and impartial investigation into the incident and, if the reported facts are confirmed, appropriate sanctions to be imposed on the officers responsible.

ActUp HELLAS
“AITIMA” NGO
Amnesty International Greek Section
ARSIS - Association for the Social Support of Youth
Ecumenical Refugee Program (KSPM) of the Church of Greece
Greek Council for Refugees
Greek Forum of Refugees
Greek Helsinki Monitor
Greek Transgendered Support Association
Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Migrants and Refugees - Athens
Hellenic League for Human Rights
Initiative for the Rights of Detainees
Network for Social Support of Refugees and Immigrants


Accusations made by lawyer Electra Koutra
(6/6/2013)

“I have just returned from the Police Station, after an extremely long night in Thessaloniki during which I was subjected to the most devastating experience in my lifetime of psychological violence from police officers against whom I have since filed a complaint with a plethora of offences against me, including felonies.

To summarize: When attempting to visit, in my professional capacity, in the Democratias Square Police Station, a transgender individual who had been detained for the third time in four days (like many other transgender people during the past five days, in response to some kind of order to “clean them up” from the specific area of Thessaloniki), I was prevented from seeing him. When I managed to obtain access, after having called the police emergency number “100” to protest for the impediments in the right of a lawyer to communicate with their client, the duty police officer threw me into the police station’s cell together with a number of other detainees most of them prostitutes that had been detained, and locked me in without giving any reason for my detention.

The other police officers present appeared to encourage these actions by the officer in duty, despite my protests that they should not accept such behavior from their colleagues which is in direct contravention of their oath. Indeed, they were teasing me and telling me 'you asked to be locked in'.

When I demanded to file a formal complaint, the duty police officer responded that he too will file a complaint against me. When I replied that this was of no concern to me and insisted that my formal complaint be registered, he refused to do so and insisted that I leave. In the middle of the night, I went to the Lefkos Pyrgos Police Station to file the complaint against the duty police officer and his colleagues present at the first police station for torture and other forms of offense to human dignity (a felony), abuse of authority, unlawful detention, unlawful; use of violence, abduction, threats, and unprovoked insult with actions. The Public Prosecutor was urgently informed of the incident and decided that the perpetrator could not be arrested as we was acting while on duty. I would like to thank lawyer Xanthippi Moisidou, whom I woke up, for standing by me as a lawyer and a friend, as well as Maria Pagou and Andria Andria who stayed with me until daybreak.”

Update (10/6/2013)

“I inform you that apart from my detention with my illegally held transgender client, and following the psychological assault I was subjected to by about ten police officers present during the incident who encouraged the duty police officer in his illegal actions, I have now been informed that a complaint against me has been filed by the duty police officer for false accusation and aggravated defamation (it seems that he claims that he did not put me in the detention cell, but rather ‘showed me the waiting area’ outside the detention cells).”






[1] We thank Nikos Charalambous and Mandi Millen for their contributions in the translation of these documents into English.
[5] «Greece: Arbitrary arrest and subsequent release of Roma rights defender Theo Alexandridis» (World Organization Against Torture – OMCT http://cm.greekhelsinki.gr/index.php?sec=194&cid=1256) «Greece: Rights defender illegally detained - Police collusion towards segregated schooling for Roma?» (International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights – IHF http://cm.greekhelsinki.gr/index.php?sec=194&cid=1281)

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