ENAR SHADOW REPORT 2009/2010 Racism and Discrimination in Greece
I. Executive summary
There were two major immigration related developments in Greece during 2009 and the first half of 2010. First, until October 2009 when the New Democracy Conservative party was in power, there were no significant immigration and discrimination policy developments. In October 2009, the socialist party PASOK won the national elections and reopened the debate on various issues concerning human rights. In March 2010, the legal code for the acquisition of Greek citizenship was changed and provisions for third country nationals were also included. The second major development was the rise of the far right-wing LAOS party that gained seats in the Greek and European Parliaments in 2009.
The anti-racist NGOs and other independent groups complained that the rise of the extreme right has multiplied attacks against vulnerable groups.
Communities vulnerable to racism
Migrants: Since there are no official statistics, it is estimated that over 1 million immigrants from non- European Union countries live in Greece and this accounts for 10% of the country’s population. Refugees: In 2009, there were 15.928 applications lodged by asylum seekers for international protection. Out of these 11 (0.4%) were granted refugee status at first instance. Greece is still the country who grants the lowest number of person’s refugee status within the EU. The Roma community: In August 2009, the Ombudsman published a special report entitled “Settlement Registry of Greek Roma community”, whereby he stressed the necessity to register all Greek Roma and resolve some of their pressing problems such as housing.
Manifestations of racism and religious discrimination
This chapter focuses on the different areas where the above mentioned groups face discrimination.
Employment: There are massive violations of migrant workers’ rights. They encounter these violations in a number of areas such as conditions of employment, social security and remunerations. Housing: Particular problems exist in the historical centre of Athens. In the city centre, many migrants are living in about 140 abandoned buildings. In some cases even abandoned cars are used as temporary housing. Education: The survey of Greek Institute for the Education of People of Hellenic Background and Intercultural Education (I.P.O.D.E.) indicated that foreign students in elementary and secondary school account to 11% of the student population but they only account for 6.5% in high school. Language difficulties prevents them from moving on to higher education i.e. university level. The data concerning the Roma community is not encouraging. In fact 35% of Roma are completely illiterate. Health: Social networks and NGOs play a supporting role by providing free primary health services and medical care to immigrants who do not have access to the National Health Service. Policing and racial profiling: The Greek Roma community are the most heavily policed group in Greek Society. However, for the first time the Panhellenic Federation of Police Officials asked to open the debate on integrating immigrants into the country's security forces. Racist violence and crime: Incidents of racist violence have significantly multiplied especially after the rise of the far-right party LAOS in the 2009 elections. Access to goods and services: There is a lack of data which makes it very difficult to monitor the number and type of discriminations in certain areas as the Equal Treatment Committee, whose purpose is to record and monitor violations involving the sale of goods and services, does not exist but only remains on paper. Media and the Internet: While the media can play a positive and crucial role concerning vulnerable groups and to eliminate stereotypes, in fact, too often only negative events associated with them is presented to the public.