Human Rights Watch Wants Mitsotakis to Aid Refugees

July 11, 2019

Ignored by the previous ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged new Prime Minister and New Democracy chief Kyriakos Mitsotakis to end what it called abuses against unaccompanied migrant children, other asylum seekers and migrants, and children with disabilities being held in detention centers.

Greece has been trying for four years to deal with with a refugee and migrant crisis that has seen some 70,000 – including 15,000 on islands near Turkey – penned up in centers and camps, including one on Lesbos the BBC called “the worst in the world.”

As his government did little to help, former Premier Alexis Tsipras said he was “proud” of the conditions in the centers and camps that more than 20 human rights groups, activists, NGO’s, and celebrities had complained about to no avail.

There’s frequent clashes between different ethnic groups and with riot police, the detainees being held in what the groups repeatedly complained about were inhumane conditions and as most are seeking asylum after the European Union closed its borders to them and reneged on promises to send some of the overload to other countries.

In an open letter to Mitsotakis, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said that the new government should end the unlawful practice of detaining unaccompanied migrant children in so-called “protective custody,” end the institutionalization of children with disabilities, order an immediate halt of pushbacks and other summary returns to Turkey from the Evros region, and put an end to the ongoing “containment policy” of asylum seekers on the Aegean islands.

In comments distributed to the media, Eva Cosse, Greece’s researcher at Human Rights Watch said, “The new prime minister should outline how he intends to guarantee human rights for everyone in Greece,” as Mitsotakis hasn’t mentioned the refugees in his initial aims concentrated on the economy and luring foreign investors.


“A first priority should be ending the scandalous and abusive detention of unaccompanied children in police lockups and detention centers,” she said. HRW is an independent non-governmental organization that monitors human rights in over 90 countries around the world.

“Children with disabilities in Greece are not receiving the care they need to protect their rights and wellbeing. Many are often forced to live in institutions, sometimes kept in cage-beds and/or tied to their beds, showing little respect for their rights, dignity, and overall wellbeing. A lack of support to ensure children with disabilities can live independently in the community means that children with disabilities remain in institutions when they become adults and in most cases all their lives,” the letter added.

The refugees and migrants keep comings to Greek islands, sent there by human traffickers that Turkey lets operate during an essentially suspended swap deal with the EU that has seen only a relative handful returned.

The refugees and migrants went to Turkey fleeing war and strife in Syria’s civil war and other countries and used the country as a jumping-off point to get first to Greece in hopes of reaching more prosperous EU countries before the doors were slammed on them.

The problem was dumped on Greece during a 9 1/2-year-long economic crisis and saw the country getting little help from one of its own, New Democracy veteran Dimitris Avramopoulos, who is the EU’s migration commissioner.

He backed off trying to force other countries to help or sue them to make sure, saying it was politically too delicate for him to handle but now he will be dealing with a government of his own party and Human Rights Watch didn’t push him in its letter to Mitsotakis.


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