Sculpted processional riders from the marble frieze of the Pantheon. Credit:

Greece Needs Broad Reform of Police Powers

ATHENS (INPS) – In a letter and briefing paper to the alternate minister for citizen protection, Nikolaos Toskas, Human Rights Watch has urged the Greek government to take formal steps to limit overly broad police stop-and-search powers.

Greece’s government told Human Rights Watch in December 2015 that it will amend a police circular governing the procedure for taking someone into police custody following a stop, for further confirmation of the person’s identity. But the government has not addressed gaps in the law that lead to groundless and sometimes abusive identity checks.

“The government has made important commitments to change its approach to policing in the center of Athens, but further reforms are needed to end widespread stop-and-search abuses,” Eva Cossé, Greece specialist at Human Rights Watch, said on January 13.

“The minister should seize this opportunity to make sure that the changes have the legal and policy framework to make them effective,” she added.

Human Rights Watch research has documented abusive stops and searches by Athens police. In many cases, the police confine people in police buses and police stations for hours, sometimes moving them and then releasing them far from the city center, without any reasonable and individualized suspicion of criminal wrongdoing.

The briefing paper to Toskas, the alternate minister, outlines the concerns. Human Rights Watch urged him to make necessary reforms to ensure that police stops are conducted in accordance with national and international law prohibiting discrimination, including ethnic profiling, ill-treatment, and arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

These reforms should be accompanied by adequate training of police officers, a functioning independent complaints mechanism, and accountability for police abuse, says Human Rights Watch. . [INTERNATIONAL PRESS SYNDICATE – 13 January 2016]

Image: Sculpted processional riders from the marble frieze of the Pantheon. Credit:

To read Human Rights Watch’s letter to Nikolaos Toskas, alternate minister for citizen protection, please visit:

To read the June 2013 Human Rights Watch report, “Unwelcome Guests: Greek Police Abuse of Migrants in Athens,” please visit:

To watch the video, please visit:

To read the May 2015 report, “Greece: Police Abusing Marginalized People,” please visit:

To watch the video, please visit:

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Greece, please visit:

For more information, please contact:
In Athens, Eva Cossé (Greek, French, English): +30-693-479-0865 (mobile); or Twitter: @Eva_Cosse

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