Παρασκευή 1 Νοεμβρίου 2013


QUESTION to the Minister of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights and Public Order and to the Minister of Citizen’s Protection about "A Syrian refugee illegally detained for  deportation in unacceptable conditions", submitted on 31.10.2013 by the following five (5) Members of the Greek Parliament (SYRIZA Party): Basiliki Katrivanou , Eirini Agathopoulou, Christos Karagiannidis, Afroditi Stabouli and Dimitris Tsoukalas. The question’s content has as follows:

"Honourable Ministers, as you already know it is illegal, in all European countries, to hold refugees coming from the truculent zone of Syria for deportation, and more specifically, the Greek Police has issued a relevant circular in our country. It is also known that the detention period in a Police Station can not exceed 48 hours; and this is the time period for putting someone, who has been arrested, to justice. However, S. Z., a Syrian lawyer, who was targeted by Assad’s regime for defending dissidents in his country, was held since September 25 under miserable and inhuman conditions in a basement detention room at Zographos Police Station, facing the risk of deportation. He was “informed” about the deportation order, that was issued against him on 28/09/13, in a language that he could not understand, meaning in the Greek language (as it is confirmed by the notification evidence), while his lawyer had filed objections on 27.9.2013; which, however, were never registered.

According to reports in the press (for example, in the “Journalists’ Journal” newspaper dated 7/10/2013), the Syrian lawyer arrived in Greece and attempted to seek asylum in order to activate the process of family reunification with his brother who lives in England. As it was testified by his colleagues, he failed to activate the asylum seeking process although the Asylum Service Authorities have only but a few cases to review. He attempted to avoid all bureaucratic obstacles using “back-door procedures”, as many refugees and immigrants do when the State acts disrespectfully to the Rule of Law in their cases. He paid in order to have documents that would allow him to leave the country, but he was eventually arrested and detained.

The Administrative First Instance Court dismissed his objections during his detention, arguing his Syrian descent, because he “did not have an official passport to prove so”, although the Court had the translated and certified copy of his Syrian Identification Card. The court did not consider that this document and the Family Status document – that clearly proved the existence of a Syrian twin brother, a recognized refugee in England (with a degree from top UK universitiy) – were sufficient and could clearly prove the Syrian origin of the prisoner. Furthermore, the Court expressed no doubts about the validity of both documents, and hence there was no investigation for document forgery.

Indicative of the Court’s rationale for the rejection grounds is an excerpt stating that our country has come to an “extremely dire financial situation [...] because of the massive influx of immigrants in Greece, and because of the limited infrastructure this country has [sic] in order to host illegal immigrants”. In other words, a court decision that dismissed the objections against the detention of a refugee is not based on the documentation of the relevant application, which is more than sufficient, but on the opinions of the judges about the causes of the economic crisis and the immigration policy of the country.

Moreover, the conditions under which the refugee is still illegally detained are atrocious and inhuman. However, he was not even allowed seeking medical attention at a hospital, despite the deterioration of his health. The testimony of his brother for the detention conditions is characteristic: “It brought tears in my eyes to see my brother in such a state [ ...],  you could see in his face all the suffering he goes through in the prison: lack of fresh air, sun, ability to move in the open yard, unhealthy and dirty living conditions, plus the bad behaviour from the police officers. I had to face such cruelty from the officers too. They showed no understanding. They did not let me see my brother for more than five minutes. I volunteered to be an interpreter between my brother and our attorney, so as I could be with him much longer. My request was not accepted and they used as an interpreter another person, who is not certified as an interpreter”. Some days ago, his brother even offered himself to a DNA test, as a last means to prove the detainee’s Syrian origin.

It is worth noting that his Greek colleagues from Thessaloniki, expressed their frustration about the physical and mental strain the Syrian refugee is going through, plus they expressed their solidarity for his immediate release, since the detention for deportation of a foreigner having an asylum seeker status is not justified.

Because, according to his lawyer, the Administrative Judge dismissed again his objections for the second time taking into account a document of the Deportation Department dated 24/10/2013, that stated a false fact, more specifically that “the detainee’s  request for asylum was not yet recorded”, while he chose – at the same time - to ignore the fact that, although there was a significant delay after the 27.09.2013 and 05.10.2013 requests for asylum while the Syrian was in jail, on 18.10.2013 his request was formally recorded by the Asylum Service Authorities, as confirmed by the document from the Asylum Service that was brought to the Court in support of the Syrian refugee.

Because, the Administrative First-Instance Court, as any other judicial authority, has absolutely no jurisdiction to rule on the causes of the economic crisis, let alone to accuse the immigrants for this crisis, expressing views or dictating the immigration policy.

Because, S.Z. has not yet been submitted to a DNA test (that could prove his Syrian origin), while his brother has given blood for DNA testing.

Because, the detention pending for deportation and the detention due to an asylum seeking request are embedded in two different legal procedures (see decision dated  30.11.2009, Case C-357/2009 PPU, Said Shamilovich Kadzoev (Huchbarov), Special Rescue Forces 2010), and because the Greek State cannot – by all means – punish by imprisonment any one who is seeking asylum.

Because, both of you Honourable Ministers are aware of the problem of illegal detention in police cells and especially the inhuman conditions and did nothing to take initiatives in order to address it; we, the undersigned six Members of the Greek Parliament, submitted in July 24, 2013 a relevant report – that falls within the scope of the parliamentary control procedures.

Because, both Ministers are also aware of the risks that Syrian refugees - asylum seekers face in Greece, an issue that has been repeatedly put under parliamentary control procedures, but with no commitment from the Ministers.

Given the ease with which the Authorities resort to the measure of detention, particularly in the case of Syrian refugees, this measure has even led to family tragedies, as in the case of Ouasim Ampounachi at Samos Island.

Since there may be an eventual deportation of the Syrian lawyer, who has been targeted as an advocate of the Assad’s regime opponents, putting his life in immediate threat.

The Honourable Ministers are asked to give answers to the following:

· In which way can they ensure the legality of the procedures in the case of the Syrian lawyer who is illegally detained?
· With which initiatives they can guarantee that refugees coming from war-torn countries, and especially from Syria, can reach the borders of Greece and seek for asylum, given the problems encountered by the way the new services are operating?
· How do they intend to prevent practically any abuse by the authorities, police forces and judiciary authorities, for the detention of refugees and migrants, due to fact that the detention centres all over Greece reveal a state of a humanitarian crisis?
· Since the cases of arbitrary judicial and police treatment of refugees and immigrants obviously tend to multiply, and their training proves to be insufficient in practice, what are the steps they intend to take in order to strengthen their work and especially to defend the rights of vulnerable groups?

The enquiring MPs