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Greece's Interventions during the 29th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Wednesday, 08 July 2015

HRC 29- Enhanced Dialogue on Migration
Intervention by Greece


Thank you Mr President,

Greece aligns itself with the intervention delivered by Ambassador Sorensen on behalf of the European Union.

We welcome the opportunity of this Enhanced Dialogue with the presence of international organizations and agencies who deal with different aspects of migration. As said by others, a holistic approach on the issue is more needed than ever involving all relevant stakeholders.

We reiterate what we stressed earlier today, that our country continues on a daily basis to experience the pressure of migratory flows exhausting all means available : search and rescue, reception, granting of international protection and social inclusion. It is estimated that over than 800 refugees will arrive in Greece per day this summer,which will make the situation even more complicated.  According to FRONTEX public statistics between January and April 2015 there has been an increase of 385% of migratory and refugee flows through South Eastern European borders especially from Syria.

In our view the protection of human rights is a cross cutting issue arising in all different stages of the migratory phenomenon. Indeed human rights violations are one of the root causes of migration. Moreover human rights areviolated during the long journeys of migrants, the reception process and well beyond that. Respect of the fundamental rights and human dignity of migrants including the principle of non refoulement is essential through all these stages.

Therefore it is our collective responsibility,without exceptions,to address this global phenomenon together and not to narrow it down to the human rights obligations of a few receiving European States. In this context cooperation with countries of origin and transit remains essential as well as the principle of shared responsibility at a regional and international levels.

Finally we would like to thank the President of the Human Rights Council for taking prompt action on the EU’s request to organize the Enhanced Dialogue today and we look forward to the conclusions of this meeting.

Thank you




UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
29th Session

Item 3
Clustered ID
WG on Transnational Corporations and Human Rights & SR on Trafficking ,
(Geneva, 16/06/2015)

Intervention of Greece



Thank you Mr. President,

Greece aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union and would also like to thank the UN Working Group on Human Rights and Transnational Cor-porations and other Enterprises for the presentation of its reports and ad-denda.

Greece fully appreciates and supports the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, en-dorsed by the Human Rights Council in 2011. We further support all UN initiatives and recent efforts to draw on the progress made by both States and businesses in the form of guidance on reporting as presented in this session, paragraph 12 of A/HRC/29/28.
Greece also wishes to underline the importance of the engagement between civil society and transnational corporations for the implementation of corporate responsibility as reflected in the working group’s report. I would like, at this point, to bring your attention to our National Action Plan on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) created to better consolidate and implement the principles of CSR in Greece in order for Greek enterprises to better integrate the afore mentioned principles to their business strategy and develop practices of corporate responsibility. We also highlight the importance of due diligence and human rights impact assessments in the context of trade and investment agreements as also expressed in the report.
Allow me now to turn to the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, and thank her for her report, which reflects the worrying situation of trafficking especially among women and children victims.

Two of the most important questions raised in your report are the issue of prevention and the issue of protection and assistance to the victims of trafficking, which are mainly, women, young girls and boys.

In this context, Greece has ratified the Palermo Protocol as well as the Council of Europe’s Conven-tion against Trafficking in Human Beings. In a national level,we have made intensive efforts to fight Trafficking of Human Beings through legislative reforms, which complete existing legislation with a specific attention to children, and the establishment of the position of the National Rapporteur on Trafficking, with a clear mandate on accountability. Furthermore, on the issue of prevention, several educational and training programs for competent authorities have been implemented. Furthermore, the Office of the National Rapporteur, working closely with NGOs, has organized various anti-trafficking educational projects involving teachers, parents and students as well as international and national conferences on Trafficking.We also want to stress that the Greek government  decided to support for the second consecutive year the Voluntary Un Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery.

Greece, also, attaches great importance to the issue of identification, the protection and  the sup-port of victims, which remains a major priority. Thus, the aforementioned efforts include, inter alia, the adoption of an inclusive protection regime for victims, the assistance through the National Center for Social solidarity, as well as services that offer legal advice, psycho-social support and counseling to women victims. This support continues through the entire transition period towards their reintegration in the society.

Ms Giammarinaro, Greece remains committed to your mandate and remains at your disposal for any assistance you need.


Thank you Mr President


UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
29th Session
PANEL ON REALIZING THE EQUAL ENJOYMENT OF THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION BY EVERY GIRL.

16 JUNE 2015

INTERVENTION BY GREECE



Thank you Mr. President,

Greece aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.

We would like to thank all the panelists for their inputs.


We would like to stress that the right to education, and especially its enjoyment by girls and young women, entails the respect of a series of other important rights and is the foretoken of the inclusion and participation of women in the society and the decision making. The fact that girls'exclusion from education continues in various parts of the world, proves that we must  defend more the  rights of the girl child, also by fighting traditional practices that are barriers to girls, such as early marriage and genital mutilation", and address female poverty since two thirds of the global poor are women. We must also educate boys and men -future fathers and husbands, that is-,into changing attitudes, since they have a crucial role to play when  it comes to womens'empowerment.

Education, according to the Greek Constitution, is one of the basic missions of the State and every Greek citizen is entitled to it, free of charge at all levels, regardless of their  gender, origin or religion . In parallel, our national legislation outlines that the principle of gender equality includes equal treatment and equal opportunities, as well as removal of gender stereotypes in the field of education. Hereof, Greece implemented a National Program for Substantive Gender Equality 2010-2013 which included, inter alia, gender equality in the field of education.

Moreover, Greece's recent participation in an international conference in Oslo and our endorsement of a political Declaration on Safe Schools in support of better protection for schools from military use during wartime proves our long standing commitment in defending the right to education internationally.

To this regard, we call upon all countries to adopt all necessary measures to combat discrimination within the educational system, to promote gender equality, to enable access to schools for girls and women by establishing a secure environment and to promote inclusiveness as it is  being stressed in the 2030 Common Agenda of UNESCO on this issue. Let us all draw the important lessons from Malala Yousafzai's heroic actions and work harder in defense of every girl’s right to an education.

Thank you Mr President!!



PERMANENT MISSION OF GREECE
GENEVA


United Nations Human Rights Council
29th Session Item 3
Clustered Interactive Dialogue
With the SRs on Migrants & Minority Issues
(Geneva, 15.06.15)
Intervention by Greece


Merci Monsieur le Président,

La Grèce s’associe à la déclaration de l’Union européenne. Nous souhaitons une chaleureuse bienvenue aux deux Rapporteurs spéciaux avec lesquels nous avons une coopération étroite et fructueuse.

L’immigration est certainement l'un des principaux défis mondiaux que non seulement l'UE, mais beaucoup d'autres régions du monde doivent affronter aujourd'hui. L'ambassadeur Sorensen a évoqué les décisions importantes qui ont été prises récemment au plus haut niveau par l'UE, y compris le triplement des ressources pour les opérations Triton et Poseidon.

Nous pensons toutefois que la coopération avec les pays tiers d'origine et de transit, en particulier lorsqu'il s'agit de la gestion efficace des processus de la réadmission, est cruciale à cet égard. Notre pays est un de pays de première ligne de l'UE dans ce domaine et, comme vous soulignez dans votre rapport, en 2014, l'Agence Frontex a signalé que jamais le nombre des migrants empruntant la route  qui mène aux îles grecques  traversant la mer Égée par  la Turquie n’a été aussi élevé qu’au cours de 2014 et que le HCR a averti que la situation devenait critique. En 2014, 10.782 vies humaines ont été sauvées par le Garde Côtes Hellénique, tandis que seulement pendant le premier trimestre de 2015, 2.512 vies humaines ont été sauvées. Bien sûr, le nombre d'entrants est beaucoup plus élevé et a  presque triplé depuis l'année dernière surtout pour ceux provenant de la Syrie. Nous sommes d'accord avec votre analyse qu'une politique efficace de migration doit être cohérente, holistique et globale. À cet égard, la Grèce a récemment créé le poste de sous-ministre pour la politique migratoire et est également dans le processus de changements radicaux dans les centres de détention dans tout le pays et leur remplacement par " structures  ouvertes d'hospitalité". Une attention particulière est également accordée à la formation des agents de police sur les droits de l'homme et notamment des groupes vulnérables, afin d'assurer le respect des droits fondamentaux et de la dignité humaine des migrants.

Nous tenons également à remercier Mme Iszak sur son étude approfondie sur les Roms dans le monde, qui permet une compréhension vraiment globale et multifacette sur leur situation. En raison de contraintes de temps, nous allons seulement dire que notre pays souscrit à l'adoption de mesures au niveau de l'UE, comme vous le mentionnez dans votre chapitre intitulé “Faits positifs”. Nous sommes heureux de mentionner que nous avons également pris des mesures importantes au niveau national , qui prévoient une meilleure intégration sociale, la réhabilitation de logements et de services supplémentaires dans les domaines de l'éducation, la santé, l'emploi, la culture et les sports pour les Roms. En même temps, les autorités sont pleinement conscientes des défis qui nous attendent. À cette fin, un nouveau plan d'intégration des Roms national a été élaboré et a déjà été soumis à la Commission européenne couvrant la période jusqu'à 2020.


Merci Monsieur le Président


PERMANENT MISSION OF GREECE
GENEVA


United Nations Human Rights Council
29th Session Item 3
Clustered Interactive Dialogue
With the SRs on Freedom of Expression & Peaceful Assembly and Association
(Geneva, 17.06.15)
Intervention by Greece


Thank you Mr President,

Greece aligns fully itself with the statement delivered by the EU and extends a warm welcome to both Special Rapporteurs. We attach great importance to the work of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and welcome the recommendations of his latest report, to which we were one of 16 countries to contribute by answering the relevant questionnaire earlier this year. Greece is also   actively participating in the discussions in the framework of the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019, with concrete proposals in the area of promoting freedom of expression on line and offline. We are glad to say our national policies and laws on protection of data are very much in line with the aforementioned recommendations. More specifically, The Hellenic Authority for Communication Security and Privacy is the independent authority established in 2003 as prescribed by our constitution with the important mission to ensure confidentiality of mail and all other forms of free correspondence of communication. This Authority has the power to issue relevant regulations, perform audits –inter alia- on public entities including the Hellenic National  Intelligence Service, and investigate all relevant public complaints. The Authority has also issued an important regulation that obliges public entities to pursue an encryption policy that respect communication data of subscribers or users of services provided. Use of encryption tools to secure transactions and communications is also provided for in the Greek Data Protection Law of 1997 which also contains provisions on the obligatory use of anonymity in the processing of personal data according to the principle of proportionality. Our commitment to your mandate is also expressed through our cosponsorship  of the recent HRC Resolution on the Right to Privacy which we hope will push the human rights agenda further with regard to the relevant issues.

We would also like to welcome Mr Kiai and encourage him to continue to inform us through his reports on ways in which states can implement more effectively   the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Thank you Mr President

United Nations Human Rights Council
29th Session Item 2
Update by the High Commissioner
General Debate
(Geneva, 15.06.15)
Intervention by Greece


(Mrs Ismini Panagopoulou)

Thank you Mr President,

Greece aligns itself with the statement delivered by the EU and wishes to add a few elements in its national capacity. We ‘d also like to thank the High Commissioner for the engaging  presentation of his  update to the  Council. We join our voices in reiterating our full support for the independence and integrity of the mandate of the High Commissioner.

We listened very carefully to your update, and we would very briefly like to highlight the following key issues: as the rise in migration flows continues especially from the South Eastern route, resulting in losses of thousands of lives globally, no one has the luxury to shy away from their responsibilities. Greece experiences for years the problem of migratory and refugee flows in all dimensions, exhausting all means available: search and rescue, reception, granting of international protection and social inclusion. Our country has been constantly highlighting at all levels regional and international, the importance of solidarity and fair sharing of burden and responsibilities, in particular the need of enhanced cooperation with third countries of origin and transit. We  strongly support the EU’s engagement in saving more lives and the developing of a new agenda on migration which has and will be explained further as today’s discussions focus on this major global challenge.

In the wake of the situation in Iraq and Syria and the terrorist activities of ISIS/ISIL in those and other countries, we strongly condemn any form of  terrorism and call upon all states to actively and effectively confront this menace and step up cooperation on security matters. You recently said that the path of moral blankness and discrimination leads to hatred. We reiterate our engagement in rejecting any form of discrimination, and underline that we  support the OHCHR’s work on defending freedom of sexual orientation and gender identity worldwide,  an area where we newly introduced strengthened anti hatred legislation in our country.

Finally, Mr High Commissioner, we would like to personally wish you further success in implementing your mandate and particularly in setting the same moral high ground as in the previous year.


Thank you Mr President

UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
29th Session
Panel 2: Women's human rights and participation in power and decision-making

19 JUNE 2015

INTERVENTION BY GREECE


Thank you Mr. President,

Greece aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.
Allow me, Mr. President,to thank all panelists for their inputs.

Women’s participation in power and decision- making constitutes one of the most important proofs of the promotion and protection of women’s rights worldwide, as it illustrates, in the most visible way, that women have been able to enjoy their fundamental rights, such as the right to physical integrity, equality, the right to education. But at the same time, thisalso proves that States have been committed to combat gender – based violence, or any other forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls.

However, despite the increase of women’s participation, since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, discrimination against women and  violence against them still persist. Rapes, gender-related killings of women and girls, sexual violence, limits to education, health care services or employment, trafficking, gender stereotypes as well as the existence of poverty and the increase of conflict situationshold women back and are the main barriers to theirsocial and economic well-being and, as a result, their full participation in power structures and decision - making.

In this regard, and having in mind that women’s participation in decision - making has a positive result to the society, Greek legislation is adjusted to the constitutional principle of gender equality and provides for the removal of existing inequalities, especially to the detriment of women. In addition, a National Plan for Substantive Gender Equality has been implemented and provides for, inter alia, measures to support women’s employment and ensure their financial independence with the view to increasing empowerment of women and their participation to all levels of political and social life.

Last but not least, the International Community should not undermine the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building.

In conclusion, Greece calls upon all states to improve the status of women, to full fill their obligations vis-à-vis the protection and promotion of the rights of women and girls and ensure the full respect of the principle of gender equality and non discrimination.


Thank you Mr. President.


UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
29th Session-ITEM 3
Clustered ID with
Special Rapporteur on Violence against women
Special Rapporteur on Internally Displaced Persons

Geneva, 16 JUNE 2015

INTERVENTION BY GREECE


Thank you Mr. President,
Greece aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.

We would like to thank both the Special Rapporteurs for their reports.

Greece is deeply concerned about the alarming percentage of violence -including do-mestic- against women and girls, which tends to increase significantly. Figures show that over 35% of women and girls worldwide experience staggering levels of various violations, that  have a severe impact to their social and economic well-being.

At the same time, vulnerability of women and girls is more visible in situations of displacement. As Mr. Beyani states in his report, internally displaced women and girls are often disproportionately affected by displacement and displaced women often faced double discrimination as IDPs and women.

Hence, the issue of protection and promotion of the rights of women in all situations needs to be addressed in the most efficient way.In an international legislative level, Greece was among the first thirteen countries that signed the Convention of the Council of Europe on the Elimination of Violence against women and domestic vio-lence.The ratification of the Convention by the Hellenic Parliament is a key commit-ment for the newly elected Government.
In a national level, Greece has implemented a National Plan of Action to Combat Vio-lence Against Women. The General Secretariat for Gender Equality,has also estab-lished an Integrated Action Plan in favour of women and combating of violence at national and local level”, consisting -inter alia- of an awareness raising campaign con-ducted also through the social media, establishment of counseling centres in coopera-tion with fourteen municipalities, Establishment and operation of a bilingual SOS tel-ephone helpline. The services provided by the above mentioned structures are free of charge and include psychosocial support, legal counselling as well as counselling in labour issues, emergency shelter and, where necessary, legal aid in cooperation with local Bar Associations.  In designing and delivering these services, due consideration is given to the need to respond to different social, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, faiths, states of health, etc. Considering the main focus of your report on legal systems and practices, we would like to highlight that, aiming at  preventing the actual act of violence occurring, and similar to relevant European Court of human rights jurispru-dence you are also referring to in your report,the Athens administrative court of ap-peal suspended the deportation of an African  female  to her country of origin due to the danger of being submitted to FGM upon return.
Finally, Madame Special Rapporteur, since an excellent overview of the three regional human rights systems regarding violence against women is provided in your report., we would like to ask you To this end, we would like to ask you, how do you assess that the notion and the scope of "due diligence" on the part of the state can be successfully applicable  in a potential transition from regional to international legal standards?

Thank you Mr. President.

UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
29th Session
Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education

18 JUNE 2015

INTERVENTION BY GREECE


Thank you Mr. President,

Greece aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.

First of all, we would like to thank Mr. Kishore Singh for his report, which focuses on a very interesting issue. We particularly appreciated the chapter on exemplary regula-tory frameworks and references to protection of working rights of educational person-nel employed in private entities.

As you mention in your report, education is instrumental in “promoting development, social justice and other human rights and it is a core obligation of the State to pro-mote, ensure and respect the right to education. We fully subscribe to that view and are very happy that the EU's commitment to intensify its efforts to promote Econom-ic, Social and Cultural Rights was included as an EU priority at UN human rights fora during last February's EU Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions.Moreover, as the EUDEL representative also highlighted, we support better protection for schools from military use during wartime. To this end, we recently participated in an international conference in Oslo and endorsed a political Declaration on Safe Schools as part of our long standing commitment in defending the right to education internationally.


Mr special rapporteur It is our country's firm belief that the best remedy for tackling growing inequality worldwide, is free access to quality education for all. Therefore, safeguarding the nature  of education as a public good and rejection of every attempt to undermine this nature is rejected. According to the Greek Constitution, education is one of the basic missions of the State and every child living in Greece is entitled to education free of charge at all levels regardless of their origin, religion, gender, or of their parents’ / guardians legal status in the Country. In addition, under the principle of non discrimination,
Having in mind, that education must remain a public good, and that all children, around the world, shall have access to a free, equal and quality education, we would like to ask you through what means a holistic approach to education can be realized and how the Post 2015 Agenda can be better used, in this end? 

Thank you Mr. President.

UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
29th Session

Intervention – Greece
Clustered ID

SR on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights
SR on counter terrorism
–ITEM 3, 22/06/2015


Thank you Mr. President,


Greece aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.


We would like to thankboth Special Rapporteurs for their extremely interesting  reports.  Turning first to Mr Alston's report,


Greece is of the opinion that the views expressed throughout your report over the need to "upgrade" prominence and priority given to economic, social and cultural rights, merits serious consideration by all stakeholders in the context of the UN human rights bodies. For this reason, we were particularly pleased  that the intensification of the efforts of the EU to promote economic social and cultural rights was included in the EU priorities in the human rights fora for 2015.

It is  obvious that, as you fairly point out, extreme inequality is closely linked with extreme poverty.
Mr Special Rapporteur, according to Eurostat, between 2010 and 2014 the percentage of severely materially deprived people in Greece has doubled,  from 11,6% to 21,5% while in euro zone level for the same period the percentage slightly rose from 5,9% to 7,5%. Also According to Eurostat , the percentage of people at high risk of social exclusion increased by 10% in the same period, that is from 27,7% in 2010 to 36% for 2014 , while on euro zone level the percentage only rose by 1,3 %, that is from 21,8 in 2010 to 23,1% in 2013.
In this respect, we would be interested in hearing on which particular instances have the international financial institutions argued that the human rights dimension in the context of their policies and programmes should rather be dealt with by the Human Rights Council, as you mention in the last chapter of your report?
We would like to turn now to the SR  Mr Emerson and ask him whether he can propose which non legislative measures could  States take in order  to protect civilian populations from widespread and systematic acts of violence and terrorism?


Thank you Mr. President



UNITED NATIONS
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
29th Session
29June 2015
Intervention by Greece
ID Special Rapporteur on Racism
Mr. President,


Greece aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.

We thankthe Special Rapporteur Mr MutumaRuteerefor the presentation of his report focused on the practices of racial and ethnic profiling, their role in boosting discrimination and the challenges arising thereon.

Greece  strongly believes that despite differences in the approach, the fight against racism should unite the world as this phenomenon, including practices of racial and ethnic profiling, is presentto  all societies.
As to the action taken in my country, we are pleased to announce that Greece has set the fight against racism as a top priority in its first national Action Plan on Human Rights launched last year. It also adopted a specific law on this issue, reinforcing inter alia accountability for racially motivated crimes, in an effort to upgrade the existing framework. You had the chance, Mr Special Rapporteur, to witness yourself the extensive and concrete measures currently taken by the Greek Government, during your recent visit in Greece a few weeks ago. We are pleased that you have publicly welcomed the unequivocal commitment of our countryto combat racist violence, xenophobia and discrimination,as expressed by the several Ministers you have met including the newly established Alternate Minister for Migration. We look forward to the report of the visit and the opportunity to further discuss this issuenext year in this Council.
This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) to which Greece, as all EU Member States,is party to. We stress the importance of this instrument in the universal efforts to prevent, combat and eradicate racism.
In this regard, we would like to reiterate Greece’swillingness tocontinue achieving our international commitment towards the fight against racism as a matter of priority. As said above this is an issue that concerns us all, and we must be united if we want to addressit effectively.

We look forward to continue our fruitful dialogue with the Special Rapporteur in the near future.

Thank you Mr President


United Nations Human Rights Council
29th session

Interactive Dialogue
Special Rapporteur on Racism, MutumaRuteere


29 June 2015

EU Intervention

Mr. President

The European Union welcomes Mr Ruteere and thanks for the presentation of his report focused on the practices of racial and ethnic profiling, their role in boosting discrimination and the challenges arising thereon. Regarding your other report on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 69/160, let me from the outset concur with you that  the current requirement to report twice per year is not an optimal mechanism for fulfilling the obligations of your mandate.

Let me stress the commitment of the European Union and its Members States to the promotion and protection of human rights for all, without discrimination on any ground. All forms and manifestations of racism and xenophobia are incompatible with the founding values of the EU, which are those of the respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law and respect for human rights.

Non-discrimination on the basis of racial or ethnic origin is enshrined in the EU Treaties and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights, as well as in several EU Regulations and Directives. Let me just highlight the 2000 Directive on Racial Equality providing for a broad framework on the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of race and ethnic origin and the promotion of equal treatment on these very same grounds.
As rightly pointed out in the report of the Special Rapporteur, the EU has adopted a legal framework with provisions against racial and ethnic profiling and its discriminatory nature. This issue was also widely addressed by a recommendation of the European Parliament and the European Agency for Fundamental Rights has elaborated a comprehensive guide on understanding and preventing discriminatory racial and ethnic profiling, providing for a wide-ranging review of ongoing efforts to reduce ethnic profiling and support non-discriminatory law enforcement.

Mr. President,

Allow me to address now the Special Rapporteur: Mr Ruteere, in your report, you consider that combating the use of racial and ethnic profiling constitutes a new and complex challenge, demanding comprehensive efforts from States and the international community. We would like to listen further to your views on which topics lie at the core of those challenges and how can we better contribute to help addressing those priorities.

Thank you

Full text of the press statement delivered by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance M. MutumaRuteere on 8 May 2015 in Athens, Greece


8 May 2015
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I undertook a visit to Greece from 4 to 8 May 2015, which is the first visit of a United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance to Greece. During my visit, I held meetings in Athens and the Attica region where I met with representatives from the Greek Government, at the national and regional, levels, the legislative, judicial branches, security forces, the Ombudsman, the National Human Rights Commission, United Nations entities and international organizations, and non-governmental organizations as well as community members and other groups and individuals working in the field of racism. I had the honour to meet with the Ministers of Health, Interior and Administrative Reconstruction; Justice, Transparency and Human Rights as well as the Alternate Minister for Migration. I would like to thank the Government of Greece for the invitation and for the insightful and rich discussions. I am also grateful to the different State agencies for their cooperation. Finally I am indebted to my interlocutors from civil society and international organizations who have been very helpful to my visit.
I welcome the efforts and initiatives that the Greek Government has taken to address the issue of racist violence, such as amendments to the Penal Code, prosecution of extremist and violent parties and their leaders and the clear and unequivocal commitment stated by the current Government to combat racist violence, xenophobia and discrimination. It is important that the country builds on this progress in confronting the continuing challenges and emerging problems in the context of the economic crisis the country is faced with.
Besides the legal framework against racism, xenophobia and discrimination there are also strong and credible institutions in the fight against racism including the Ombudsman and the National Commission for Human Rights.
I particularly welcome the creation of the Public Prosecutors for Racism Issues operating in Athens and Thessaloniki and call for their expansion throughout the country.
I am also pleased to notice that special units of the Police have been set up to assist victims of racist violence and other xenophobic crimes. Other announced reforms to effectively address allegations of police violence and to bring police officers accountable for their actions are particularly appreciated.
I have been made aware that the newly elected Government of Greece has stopped the practice of sweep operations intended to arrest irregular migrants and has also terminated the previous policy of mass detention of irregular migrants. In this regard, the appointment of a Minister for Migration, whom I had the pleasure to meet with, and who is committed to address the challenges of mass migration at this Southern gateway to Europe in a humane manner, is most welcome. The continuous and committed hospitality of the Greek population must be underscored, and I have been informed that on the islands, citizens go out of their way to try to save migrants from drowning and provide them with basic necessities, although they themselves have been severely affected by the continued economic crisis.
Nevertheless, the economic crisis has resulted in further discrimination of the most vulnerable groups, such as migrants, refugees, asylum-seekers, Romas, and LGBT communities, which has been further exacerbated by racist and xenophobic discourse originating from one political party represented in Parliament. In this regard, it is with concern that I have been informed of the continuing promotion of openly racist discourse and incitement to violence by leaders of the Golden Dawn, which makes no effort to hide its violent and un-democratic agenda. This movement and similar groups represent not only a threat to Greek values of human rights but are clearly a danger to democratic values, in a country which was the birth place of democracy more than two millennia ago.
I welcome the current trial on criminal charges of 70 members of the Golden Dawn party and call upon the Greek Government to continue its efforts in the prosecution of any political leader who promotes racism, xenophobia and any kind of discrimination and also for financial and other sanctions directed to any organized structures or movements which feed such hate and abuse against the most vulnerable persons of the society.
More initiatives need to be undertaken to address the continuous phenomenon of verbal abuse and hate speech directed against members of these vulnerable groups and also to hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions. In this regard the role of education is fundamental. Political and religious leaders also have an important role to play, as well as the media in challenging stereotypes and prejudice and I call upon all of them to take seriously their leadership positions and responsibilities to promote a more open and inclusive society.
On a similar note, victims of racist and xenophobic violence need to be better protected, as has been done in the case of victims of human trafficking. I therefore recommend that the Government extend protection measures such as residence permits to allow such victims to lodge complaints and to testify at trials of alleged perpetrators.
While I welcome the efforts being undertaken to investigate acts of police violence through an internal oversight mechanism, such investigations should be subjected to review and even further investigation by an authority independent of the police forces in order to ensure transparency and credibility.
I have witnessed first-hand the distress of irregular migrants who are placed in detention facilities. While I welcome the recent progress made in improving the general conditions and in releasing many of them, I also note with concern that in some situations individuals subjected to immigration removals who have committed criminal offences are also detained in these facilities together with individuals who are held for administrative migration offences.
A concerted solution needs to be reached among the European countries to address the complex challenge of mass migration through the southern borders and seas of Europe.
Countries already severely affected by the economic crisis cannot on their own deal with this challenge and the partnership of their more prosperous partners is urgently needed.
Finally, the Romas of Greece, while being for the vast majority Greek citizens, continue to face discrimination and remain economically and socially vulnerable. I had the opportunity to visit the Spata settlement outside of Athens and followed-up on a number of issues raised by other UN special procedures mandate-holders and European mechanisms. I am concerned about their housing conditions, access to health care and other social services that have remained unchanged even after various recommendations from these international processes. It is inacceptable that their children are unable to attend schools and unable to complete basic primary education as they have been living in the same settlement for more than 15 years. The fact that this settlement does not have electricity has implications for both the education of the children as well as their health.
While I have been made aware of plans to come up with a comprehensive strategy for Roma integration, I call upon the Government to take into account and urgently implement the numerous recommendations of my predecessors from the UN and European mechanisms.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The struggle against racism, xenophobia and discrimination cannot be effective unless it is led by the most senior political leadership. To this end, I welcome the clear commitment expressed by the various government leaders that I met in confronting this challenge.
While the economic crisis has put immense pressure on the Government and severely affected the Greek society, the economic crisis should not become the reason for rolling back progress in the fight against racism and xenophobia. Combating hate and prejudice is not just about financial resources, and in times of economic crisis, blaming the most vulnerable members of society only contributes to reinforcement of a climate of hostility and violence to such groups and individuals.
I will present a more comprehensive report on this visit to the Human Rights Council next year.
I thank you for your kind attention and will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
- See more at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15943&LangID=E#sthash.Ku7RNW7l.dpuf


UNITED NATIONS
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
29th Session
(15 June – 3 July 2015)
DRAFT EU Statement on item 9
Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerence, follow-up and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action

Mr. President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The following countries align themselves with this statement: (……….)


Mr. President,

Let me reiterate the commitment of the European Union to the promotion and protection of human rights for all without discrimination on any ground. The concept that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and in rights lies at the core of the founding principles of the EU.

We welcome this opportunity to once again highlight the important issue of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and the need to step up efforts to ensure their elimination. We remain firmly committed to combat these phenomena both within the EU and throughout the world.

The EU has a strong legal and policy framework in place to prevent and to fight racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Racial and ethnic discrimination is prohibited by the Charter of Fundamental Rights, as well as by several Regulations and Directives. The EU has also adopted legislation which bans incitement to racist, xenophobic violence and hatred. Furthermore, all EU Member States are required by EU law to set up national bodies for the promotion of equal treatment of all persons without discrimination on grounds of racial or ethnic origin. These bodies, among other tasks, provide assistance to victims of discrimination.

Mr. President,

This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) to which all EU Member States are parties. We call on all States that have not yet done so to ratify and implement this convention, which remains the universal foundation for efforts to prevent, combat and eradicate racism. What is needed is not complementary standards but full and effective implementation.

The EU further remains fully committed to the primary objectives and commitments undertaken at the 2001 Durban World Conference on combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related tolerance. We engage actively in the three working groups of the Council to that effect, namely the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, the Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards, and the IGWG on the Effective Implementation of the DDPA.

Having said this, we continue to wonder whether these 6 weeks of working groups per year with more or less predictable outcomes, are money and human resources most effectively spent in the fight against racism. As we will soon be entering into negotiations on the mandate and modalities of yet another mechanism, namely the new Forum for People of African Descent, we would welcome a collective reflection with partners on ways to streamline the various mechanisms and make best use of the already scarce resources of the OHCHR budget in this crucial fight against racism worldwide.

In conclusion, the EU would like to reiterate its willingness to achieve our international commitment towards the fight against racism. This is an issue that concerns us all, and we must stand united in tackling hatred and intolerance in all its forms.

I thank you, Mr. President




UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
29th Session

Intervention – Greece
Clustered ID

SR on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights
SR on counter terrorism
–ITEM 3, 22/06/2015


Thank you Mr. President,


Greece aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.


We would like to thankboth Special Rapporteurs for their extremely interesting  reports.  Turning first to Mr Alston's report,


Greece is of the opinion that the views expressed throughout your report over the need to "upgrade" prominence and priority given to economic, social and cultural rights, merits serious consideration by all stakeholders in the context of the UN human rights bodies. For this reason, we were particularly pleased  that the intensification of the efforts of the EU to promote economic social and cultural rights was included in the EU priorities in the human rights fora for 2015.

It is  obvious that, as you fairly point out, extreme inequality is closely linked with extreme poverty.
Mr Special Rapporteur, according to Eurostat, between 2010 and 2014 the percentage of severely materially deprived people in Greece has doubled,  from 11,6% to 21,5% while in euro zone level for the same period the percentage slightly rose from 5,9% to 7,5%. Also According to Eurostat , the percentage of people at high risk of social exclusion increased by 10% in the same period, that is from 27,7% in 2010 to 36% for 2014 , while on euro zone level the percentage only rose by 1,3 %, that is from 21,8 in 2010 to 23,1% in 2013.
In this respect, we would be interested in hearing on which particular instances have the international financial institutions argued that the human rights dimension in the context of their policies and programmes should rather be dealt with by the Human Rights Council, as you mention in the last chapter of your report?
We would like to turn now to the SR  Mr Emerson and ask him whether he can propose which non legislative measures could  States take in order  to protect civilian populations from widespread and systematic acts of violence and terrorism?

Thank you Mr. President

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