Greece: Police harassment of lawyer Electra KoutraGRE 001 / 0613 / OBS 050
Arbitrary arrest / Police harassment
June 13, 2013
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Greece.
Brief description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) about the police harassment of Ms.Electra Koutra, President of the Hellenic Action for Human Rights (HAHUR) and GHM legal counsel, in the framework of police profiling operation against transgender persons in Thessaloniki.
According to the information received, in the night of June 4 to June 5, 2013, around midnight, Ms. Electra Koutra was arbitrarily detained at the Democratias Square police station in Thessaloniki, where she had gone in her capacity of lawyer for the Greek Transgendered Support Association (GTSA) to defend a transgender person who was abusively detained for the third time in four days, following an extensive police operation leading to the arbitrary arrest of many transgender persons on the eve of the Thessaloniki LGBT Pride, on June 14 and 15, 2013.
As she was prevented from seeing her client, at 00:25 am, Ms. Electra Koutra called the police emergency number to protest for the clear violation of the right of a lawyer to communicate with his or her client. Subsequently, she was then authorised to enter the station. The police officer on duty then immediately threw her into the police’s station cell together with a number of other detainees without giving any further reason for her detention. Despite Ms. Electra Koutra's complaints, about ten other police officers encouraged the duty police officer in his illegal actions and taunted her, saying that she “asked to be locked in”.
When Ms. Electra Koutra was eventually let out of the cell some 20 minutes later, the officer on duty refused to file her complaint and asked her to leave the police station, shortly after 1am. Ms. Koutra went then, in the middle of the night, to Lefkos Pyrgos police station to file a complaint for “torture and other forms of offense to human dignity” (a felony), abuse of authority, unlawful detention, use of violence, abduction, threats, and unprovoked insult with actions. The Public Prosecutor, urgently informed of the incident, refused to arrest the police officers as they were acting while on duty.
Furthermore, on June 10, 2013, Ms. Electra Koutra was informed that a complaint against her was filed by the duty police officer for false accusation and aggravated defamation. The police officer reportedly claimed that he did not put her in the detention cell, but rather "showed her the waiting area outside the detention cells".
The Observatory expresses its concern about the police harassment of Ms. Electra Koutra, which seems to be merely aimed at intimidating and sanctioning her human rights activities, and urges the Greek Government to carry out a thorough and impartial investigation into the above mentioned acts in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the sanctions provided by law.
Furthermore, the Observatory is concerned by the recent police operation against transgender persons related to the upcoming celebration of Thessaloniki LGBT Pride on June 14 and 15, 2013 and urges the Greek Government to put an end to the extensive use of police profiling against migrants, Roma and transgender persons and to the general climate of impunity.
Please write to the Greek authorities urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Electra Koutra as well as of all human rights defenders in Greece;
ii. Order a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the above-mentioned acts in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the sanctions provided by the law;
iii. Put an end to any act of harassment against Ms. Electra Koutra and all human rights defenders in Greece, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance;
iv. Conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, especially:
- Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,
- and Article 12.2 which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;
v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Greece.
· Mr. Antonis Samaras, Prime Minister, Prime Minister’s Office at the Hellenic Parliament, Greek Parliament Blgd, Constitution Square, Athens, Greece. Fax: + 30 210 3238129, Email: email@example.com
· Mr. Dimitris Avramopoulos, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 1st Vas. Sofias Av. 106 71 Athens, Greece, Fax: +30 210 368 1717, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Mr. Antonis Roupakiotis, Minister of Justice, Mesogeion 96 Av., 11527 Athens, Greece, Fax: +30 2107755835 E-mail: email@example.com
· Mr. Nikolaos Dendias, Minister of Public Order of the Hellenic Republic, Ministry of Public Order, P. Kanellopoulou 4, 10177 Athens, Greece Fax: +30-2106917944 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
· H.E. Ambassador Alexandros Alexandris, Permanent Mission of Greece to the United Nations in Geneva, Rue du Léman 4, 1201 Geneva Switzerland, Email: email@example.com, Fax: +41 22 7322150
· Permanent Mission of Greece to the European Union, Rue Jacques de Lalaing 19-21, 1404, Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 25515651, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Greece in your respective countries.
Geneva-Paris, June 13, 2013
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80