Press release on the presentation of the 2012 annual report of the Racist Violence Recording Network
Athens, 24 April 2013 – The Racist Violence Recording Network presented today its 2012 annual report, consisting of two parts. The first one refers to the quantitative and qualitative findings of racist violence recordings by the organizations participating in the Network, following interviews with the victims themselves. The second part focuses on the Network’s positions regarding the institutional framework for racially motivated crimes, as well as the recent initiatives for its amendment.
According to the report, in 2012, 154 incidents of racist violence were recorded, of which 151 were committed against refugees and migrants and 3 against European citizens (1 Romanian, 1 Bulgarian and 1 Greek). The majority of incidents concern physical attacks, while the types of crimes are mainly severe body injuries and assaults.
In 91 cases, the victims of the attacks believe that the perpetrators are linked to extremist groups. This fact also emerges from the qualitative elements recorded concerning the attacks (squads that have a specific way of acting, behaving and dressing). In some cases, the victims or witnesses to the attacks reported that they recognized persons associated to Golden Dawn among the perpetrators, because either they wore the insignia of the organization, or they were seen participating in public events of the organization in the area, or they were known as associated with the local branch of the organization.
In many cases, the victims report the use of weapons during the attacks, such as clubs, crowbars, folding batons, chains, brass knuckles, spray, knives and broken bottles, while the use of large dogs has been repeatedly reported in the area of Aghios Panteleimonas and Attica square.
A distinct category includes the 25 incidents where police and racist violence are interlinked. These incidents occurred in detention areas or during routine checks.
Regarding the lodging of official complaints to the competent authorities of the country and the initiation of judicial procedures, only 24 victims stated that they have taken steps towards this direction, while 23 victims would like to do so. The rest do not wish to take further actions, mostly because they lack legal documents and are therefore afraid that they will be arrested and deported. In practice, instead of dealing with complainants as potential victims of a crime, the police authorities prioritize control of the victim’s legal residence in the country and abstain from the duty to investigate the reported incident.
In his intervention, the Head of Office of UNHCR in Greece, Mr. Giorgos Tsarbopoulos, summed up the quantitative and qualitative data recorded by the Racist Violence Recording Network, underlining that these recordings are only the tip of the iceberg of a significantly larger and more dangerous phenomenon: “The recordings following an interview with the victim are, of course, reduced in number, but this procedure offers reliability. This reliability of the data constitutes the most important contribution of the Network, in the absence of a formal and efficient mechanism for recording and dealing with the phenomenon.”
The representative of the Network’s working group on legal issues, Mr. Vassilis Papastergiou presented the Network’s positions on the legislative initiatives to tackle racist violence, stressing that “while we have started to see signs of a positive response on the part of the State, at least for the moment, these are incomplete.” Mr. Papastergiou welcomed the establishment of Offices and Departments within the Hellenic Police aiming at tackling racist violence, but noted that, without the necessary guarantees concerning selection, recruitment and continuous training, such a key function will not be able to have the efficiency required by circumstances. As critical issues that need to be immediately dealt with, he pointed out: a) the suspension of arrest and deportation decisions against victims who file a complaint, complemented by the granting of a residence permit on humanitarian grounds, and b) the taking of immediate legislative initiative related to the introduction of distinct offences (substantive offences) for crimes when they are accompanied by a racist motive; as well as the investigation of the racial motive in each stage of the criminal process.
From his part, the President of the National Commission for Human Rights, Mr. Kostis Papaioannou, stressed that “a large part of the general public currently seems to be aware of the problem of racist violence, but this is not the case for the organized state. Yet, the rapid reaction of the authorities in providing residence permits to the victims of Nea Manolada proves that the constant demand for victim protection is both attainable and necessary. We hope that, in the end, a protection regime for the victims of racist crimes will be institutionalized.”
“Racist violence is diffused among public servants, not just among police officers. Besides, there is an interweaving of school violence with neo-Nazi violence. The Greek state should immediately change its stance and deal with those behind this strategy of tension, which starts by targeting immigrants but does not stop there. All those who always constituted the traditional victims of the neo-Nazis’ criminal activities are now targeted.”
According to Mr. Papaioannou, the political system’s impression that it can control the phenomenon at any time has proved false and tends to prove itself as pernicious. “All the political parties must demonstrate in practice that they have decided to react, notwithstanding all other differences. The interest of international monitors and the international media shows that our country is now under the microscope of the international community and it is accountable for the continuously escalating, organized and murderous racist violence.”
Finally, the President of the Association of United Afghans in Greece, Mr. Reza Golami, clarified that the figures are minimal compared to what is actually happening: “We cannot even record them. Many are undocumented and are afraid to leave their house. They are afraid of the police and the gangs. When we tell them to file a complaint, they smile, since they have already gone and survived a second attack, by the police. Their voices do not reach further than two blocks from their homes. Imagine a democracy where you do not dare to go out of the house.
Today, it is the immigrants, tomorrow it will be someone else’s turn.”
The journalist Prokopis Doukas was moderating the press conference. On the recent events in Nea Manolada, there was an intervention by GCR’s representative Vassilis Kerassiotis and MDM’s Secretary, Nikitas Kanakis.
More information: Eleni Takou, 210.7233216, firstname.lastname@example.org