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Greece: Anti-torture unit issues warnings over prison conditions and excessive police force

A new anti-torture report criticizes strongly excessive police force and poor prison conditions in Greece.

Today’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) report, also expresses concern at persistent over-crowding in the country’s jails, inadequate healthcare, inter prisoner violence and unsatisfactory care for juvenile prisoners.

The CPT report confirms “a widespread and deep-rooted problem of police ill-treatment in Greece,” highlighting an excessive use of force by the Delta motorcycle police unit in Athens.

There is also criticism of “the inadequate nature of investigations into allegations of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials, characterised by systemic failings by the police and judicial authorities.”

Persistent problems of overcrowding and chronic staff shortages are also revealed by the report’s authors. They state: “These problems compound other serious shortcomings, including insufficient and inadequate health-care services and widespread inter-prisoner violence and intimidation.”

According to the report, the Greek prison system is reaching “breaking point” and urgent steps must be taken to move away from a situation where prisons in Greece are merely acting as warehouses.

The CPT report does welcome the Greek Justice Ministry’s commitment to devise a strategic plan for the prison system, with a clear statement of political will to tackle systemic deficiencies, including inadequate health-care services.

In their response, the Greek authorities acknowledge the CPT’s findings regarding prisons and outline a range of remedial actions.

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