Amnesty International chides Greece over immigrants

July 28, 2010, Wednesday/ 16:34:00
Amnesty International (AI) has urged Greece to urgently review its immigration policy, charging that asylum seekers are routinely imprisoned in “inadequate to very poor” conditions. The human rights group issued a 60-page report on Tuesday, arguing that illegal immigrants are frequently treated like criminals and expressing concern that unaccompanied children are often locked up.

Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants arrive in EU-member Greece each year, mostly reaching islands in the Aegean Sea from the nearby coast of Turkey.

The report said AI has received reports of police authorities in detention areas at the country’s points of entry delaying or refusing to receive asylum applications and brought up 18 Kurdish asylum-seekers of Turkish nationality as an example, including four unaccompanied minors, who were forcibly returned to Turkish authorities in July 2009. AI was informed that three Turkish asylum-seekers, who had been held in a facility in Greece between Sept. 2009 and Jan. 2010, had not been provided with the opportunity to exercise during that period and slept on mattresses on the floor of their cell.

The vast majority of asylum-seekers arrive at the Greek-Turkish land and sea borders. According to official government statistics, in the first five months of 2010, a total of 28,079 foreign nationals were arrested for irregular entry, of which 9,392 were arrested at the Greek-Turkish land border.

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