Greece rapped over racist attacks

An international advocacy group has highlighted a spike in racially motivated violence against immigrants in Greece, indicating that authorities appear to be turning a blind eye to the attacks amid growing anti-immigrant sentiment in an unprecedented recession.

In a 99-page report titled “Hate on the Streets: Xenophobic Violence in Greece,” Human Rights Watch documents the experiences of dozens of victims of racist attacks, many of whom claim to have been discouraged from filing official complaints by police. The rising violence has led to many migrants being afraid of walking the streets of the capital, HRW concludes, particularly at night.

“People coming from war zones are scared to go out at night in Athens for fear of being attacked,” said Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The economic crisis and migration cannot excuse Greece’s failure to tackle violence that is tearing at its social fabric.”

According to the report, which notes that no one has been convicted under Greece’s 2008 statute on hate crimes, the Greek police have failed to protect victims of racist assaults and punish perpetrators.

HRW said it appeared that the perpetrators were associated with vigilante groups or with the extreme-right-wing Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) but that it had found no evidence that assaults are directed by the party.

In a related development, the chairs of the migration and equality committees of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) expressed concern about a spike in racist violence in Greece as well as Malta, another popular destination for undocumented migrants seeking a better future in the European Union. “Attacks against migrants and refugees are of increasing concern, including in Greece, where there are a worrying number of allegations of police brutality, and failures by them to investigate racist attacks on migrants and refugees,” Giacomo Santini and Tina Acketoft said in a joint statement. 

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