Council of Europe (CoE) secretary general Thorbjorn Jagland has sent a letter to Greek prime minister George Papandreou encouraging the Greek authorities to take immediate action for compliance with recommendations by the CoE's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) for improvement of the detention conditions of irregular migrants.

Greece needs to improve the detention conditions of irregular migrants, Jagland said in his letter to Papandreou, and defended the concerns raised by the CPT.

"We are well aware of the many challenges facing Greece, especially during the past year with the increasing numbers of irregular migrants entering the country via its land borders," Jagland said in a statement, stressing at the same time that "Europe needs to demonstrate its solidarity and provide the necessary support to Greece to cope with these people."

"I have repeatedly stated that countries in Europe should refrain from returning asylum seekers and irregular migrants to Greece until proper detention conditions are ensured. Greece can count on the full assistance and support of the Council of Europe, in this endeavour. I also support the call for the European Union to assist the Greek authorities in the effort to improve the detention facilities in their country," Jagland said in his statement.