Download the full report - Human Rights Watch

Download the full report - Human Rights Watch

V. State Response

Right now the fear is that the state cannot protect us. If the government

does not intervene, things will get much worse.

—Ali Rahimi, Afghan asylum seeker, Athens, December 5, 2011

The cases documented in this report demonstrate that migrants and asylum seekers have

little chance of seeing justice done. Victims of violent racist and xenophobic attacks in

Athens face countless obstacles in reporting crimes and activating police investigations.

Undocumented migrants face the threat of detention and deportation if they report a

crime. The authorities have thus far failed to aggressively prosecute racist and xenophobic

violence for what it is. National authorities—as well as the EU and the international

community at large—preoccupied by the economic crisis and concerned with control of

irregular immigration, have largely turned a blind eye.

Ministry of Citizen Protection officials and prosecutors alike pointed to low numbers of

complaints and cases in court as proof that racist and xenophobic violence is not a serious

or growing problem. 137 This analysis ignores underreporting by victims who lack confidence

in the police response, or, if they are undocumented migrants, fear detention if they come

forward. Above all it ignores the inadequate response of the police and justice system to

such attacks.

Inadequate Police Response

Human Rights Watch documented serious failings in police response to incidents and

reports of violence against migrants and asylum seekers. Despite Ministry of Citizen

Protection circulars, amendments to the Police Code of Ethics, and training courses on

human rights issues, the police appear ill-equipped or ill-disposed to investigate reports

of racist violence.

Brigadier Georgios Nitsas at the Ministry of Citizen Protection insisted that all cases are

diligently investigated:

137 Human Rights Watch interview with eight Ministry of Citizen Protection officials, chaired by Major General Vasileios

Kousoutis, director, International Police Cooperation Division, Ministry of Citizen Protection, Athens, December 9, 2011;

Human Rights Watch interview with Ioannis Tentes, General Prosecutor, and Athanasios Katsirodis, Deputy Prosecutor,

Supreme Court, Athens, December 6, 2011.


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