Council of Europe Report-slap on racism in Greece

Council of Europe Report-slap on racism in Greece

Athens, February 25, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

Hate speech against immigrants has “reached alarming proportions” in Greece, where the authorities must fight harder against this phenomenon, anti-homophobic discrimination and those against Roma, says Council of Europe report published Tuesday.

With the rise of neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, Greece “has experienced a surge in racist violence in recent years”, which has created a “climate of racial hatred and fear against which nothing has been done for too long”, report the experts of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI).

“Hate speech often goes unpunished and the formal condemnation is not enough”, the report, which calls on Athens to develop “a comprehensive national strategy to combat racism and intolerance”. The report denounces the “enormous proportions” of the discrimination against gays, lesbians and transsexuals, who are usually victims of harassment without being adequately protected.

According to experts of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, immigrants who are victims of racist violence do not report attacks for fear of being deported, thus creating a “general climate of impunity”.

The authors of the report acknowledge that the Greek authorities have set up in recent years, police units and specialised prosecutor authority to combat racist violence and have adopted a new anti-racism law last September, though they say remain concerned by the levels of xenophobia and violence against refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, or the continuous separation of Roma children in some schools.

Sakellaridis: “The government will address the problems of racism and xenophobia”.

The existence of racism and xenophobia problems in Greece recognises the Greek Government, in a statement of the representative of Gabriel Sakellaridis, which stresses that “the recent report of the Council of Europe points out that our country is facing serious problems of racism and xenophobia, which are exacerbated during the crisis period”.

Government spokesman stressed that we as a society “should look the problem in the eye and stop turning a blind eye to the dead-ends of hate” and blames the previous government, noting that “as is stated in the report of the Council of Europe, previous governments not only did not try effectively to address the phenomena, but often fueled the stalemate with their policies”.

Sakellaridis underlines the willingness of the government to work unswervingly towards building a society of tolerance and humanism.

“Already,” he notes, “the government reaffirmed its commitment to these objectives, with the announcement of the permanent closure of inhumane detention centers, which was a key recommendation of the Council to the Greek authorities, however, he concludes, “there is still a long way to go”.