Rights Group Blasts Greece Immigrant Law



Greek police rounding up illegal immigrant suspects
Greek police rounding up illegal immigrant suspects

ATHENS — Rights groups have assailed plans by the Greek government to put a clause in a draft immigration law that would allow for the deportation of migrants making false claims of abuse against law enforcement officials.

Human Rights Watch and Greece’s Racist Violence Recording Network, an umbrella organization of 35 rights groups, said that the amendment would deter victims from reporting abuse out of  fear they would be deported if their claims cannot be proven or are not accepted by a judge.

The amendment was repeatedly submitted and withdrawn during stormy debates on the immigration bill in Parliament last week. Interior Minister Yannis Michelakis had insisted the amendment remain, saying that police and coast guard officials would otherwise be vulnerable to false claims of abuse.

The measure was withdrawn twice following complaints from opposition parties as well as coalition partner socialist PASOK, whose chief and deputy premier, Evangelos Venizelos, wanted it excised.

The human rights groups said the law wouldn’t do justice to for migrant victims of law enforcement abuse and reverse the presumption of innocence and presume a person filing an abuse complaint was automatically guilty.

“It’s in everyone’s interest in Greece to hold anyone responsible for a violent crime accountable – and that should include law enforcement officers,” said Eva Cosse, Greece specialist at the human rights organization.

“The government should encourage reporting, not threaten victims with arrest, detention, and deportation,” she said.