CPT/Inf (2010) 33
to the Government of Greece
on the visit to Greece
carried out by the European Committee
for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman
or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT)
from 17 to 29 September 2009
The Government of Greece has requested the publication of this report and of its response. The Government’s response is set out in document CPT/Inf (2010) 34.
Strasbourg, 17 November 2010
Mr Athanassios Dendoulis
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Permanent Representative of Greece
to the Council of Europe
21 place Broglie
Strasbourg, 31 March 2010
In pursuance of Article 10, paragraph 1, of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, I enclose herewith the report to the Government of Greece drawn up by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) following its visit to Greece from 17 to 29 September 2009. The report was adopted by the CPT at its 71st meeting, held from 1 to 5 March 2010.
The various recommendations, comments and requests for information formulated by the CPT are listed in Appendix I of the report. As regards more particularly the CPT’s recommendations, having regard to Article 10 of the Convention, the Committee requests the authorities of Greece to provide within six months a response giving a full account of action taken to implement them. The CPT trusts that it will also be possible for the authorities of Greece to provide, in the above-mentioned response, reactions and replies to the comments and requests for information.
It would be most helpful if a copy of the response could be provided in a computer-readable form.
I am at your entire disposal if you have any questions concerning either the CPT’s report or the future procedure.
President of the European Committee for the
Prevention of Torture and Inhuman
or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
1. In pursuance of Article 7 of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (hereinafter referred to as “the Convention”), a delegation of the CPT carried out a visit to Greece from 17 to 29 September 2009. The visit was organised within the framework of the CPT’s programme of periodic visits for 2009; it was the Committee’s ninth visit to Greece and its fifth of a periodic nature.
2. The visit was carried out by the following members of the CPT:
- Mario FELICE, Head of delegation
- Marija DEFINIS-GOJANOVIC
- Anna GAVRILOVA ANCHEVA
- Emilio GINES SANTIDRIAN
- Stefan WEINBERG-KRAKOWSKI.
They were supported by the following members of the CPT’s Secretariat:
Hugh CHETWYND (Head of Division)
and were assisted by:
Martin LOMAS, Team leader, HM Inspectorate of Prisons in England and Wales, and former prison governor, United Kingdom (expert)
Alan MITCHELL, former Head of Healthcare , Scottish Prison Service, United Kingdom (expert)
Eleonora CAMBAS, Interpreter
Maria Louca HOUVARDA, Interpreter
Haris GHINOS, Interpreter
Ionathan MARKEL, Interpreter
Alexander ZAPHIRIOU, Interpreter.
3. The delegation visited the following places:
Establishments under the authority of the Ministry of Interior
Patras Police Headquarters (Emrou Street)
1st Precinct Station of Patras (Panepistimiou Street)
3rd Precinct Station of Patras (Gounari Street)
5th Precinct Station of Patras (Mavromateon Street)
Patras Transfer Centre
Omonia Police Station
Petrou Ralli Alien holding facility
Holding Areas at Athens Airport
Moschatou Police Station, Piraeus
Piraeus Alien holding facility
Alexandroupolis Police Station
Feres Border Guard Station
Soufli Police and Border Guard Station
Chios Town Police Station
Kavala Police Station
Neo Karvali Border Guard Station
Mytilini Police Headquarters
Mytilini (Pagani) Special holding facility for illegal immigrants
Filakio Special holding facility for illegal immigrants
Neo Himonio Border Guard Station
Orestiada Police Station
Amfissa Police Transfer Centre
Venna Special Holding facility for illegal immigrants
Serres Police Station
Siderokastro Police Station
Thessaloniki Airport Holding facilities
Dodecanesis Street Police Station
Kordello Border Guard Station
Monasteriou Police Station
Xanthi Police and Border Guard Station
Ministry of Merchant Marine
Chios Port detention facility
Mytilini Port detention facility
Patras Port detention facility
Establishments under the authority of the Ministry of Justice
Chios Judicial Prison
Korydallos Men’s Prison (for a follow up visit)
Korydallos Women’s Remand Prison (for a targeted visit)
Thiva Women’s Prison.
4. In the course of the visit, the delegation met the Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice, Athanasios ANDREOULAKOS, Head of Penitentiary Policy, Christina PETROU, and the Chief Prosecutor of the Court of Cassation, Ioannis TENTES, as well as other senior officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Health, Interior and Justice and the Greek Police Force. The delegation also met the Ombudsman and Deputy Ombudsman, representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Greek National Commission for Human Rights, and representatives of several non-governmental organisations.
A list of the national authorities and organisations met by the delegation is set out in Appendix II to this report.
5. The cooperation received during the visit by the CPT’s delegation from the Greek central authorities as well as from the management and staff in the establishments visited was, on the whole, very good. The delegation had rapid access to the places of detention visited, was able to speak in private with those persons with whom it wanted to meet and was provided with access to the information it required to carry out its task.
The CPT wishes to express its appreciation for the assistance provided to its delegation in the course the visit by the liaison officers from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior and Justice.
6. A senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has now been appointed as liaison officer with overall responsibility for maintaining contacts with the Committee; this should certainly facilitate the ongoing dialogue with the Greek authorities. However, there still does not seem to be an appropriate mechanism in place to evaluate the Government responses to the CPT’s visit reports and, in particular, to verify that the responses do indeed address all of the recommendations made by the Committee. For example, no response was provided to the immediate observation made by the delegation at the end of the 2009 visit in relation to the closure of two metal structure containers for detention purposes in the Port Authority of Patras. It is essential that the authorities ensure the necessary coordination and consultation among the ministries concerned.
7. More fundamentally, the principle of cooperation set out in the Convention requires that decisive action be taken to improve the situation in the light of the Committee’s recommendations.
The 2009 visit represents the CPT’s fourth visit to Greece in five years, and the reports on these visits have all pointed to the lack of vigorous action taken by the authorities to tackle the systemic deficiencies identified by the Committee, notably as concerns preventing ill-treatment of detainees by law enforcement officials, conditions of detention for irregular migrants and the situation in the country’s prisons.
8. Regrettably, it would appear from the responses of the authorities to the reports on the previous visits that the Committee’s findings continue to be regarded with some scepticism as to their reliability. Allegations of ill-treatment appear to be considered either as isolated cases or as fabricated stories, rather than as indicators of a serious problem. The findings of the 2009 visit point once again to the necessity for putting in place more rigorous systems which guarantee that allegations of ill-treatment are thoroughly, promptly and effectively investigated by an independent authority and that perpetrators of ill-treatment are punished accordingly.
The conditions of detention for the vast majority of irregular migrants deprived of their liberty in Greece continue to be unacceptable, as this report clearly illustrates. Again, the problem is not new but the action taken to date by the authorities has not addressed the structural deficiencies nor has it attempted to promote a coordinated approach between the main actors responsible for managing accommodation and care for irregular migrants.
As for the situation in prisons, the excessive overcrowding in a number of prisons in conjunction with severe understaffing, poor health-care provision, lack of a meaningful regime and unsuitable material conditions represent an even greater concern to the Committee today than they did in the past.
9. The above-mentioned concerns of the CPT were conveyed to the Greek authorities in the course of two days of high-level talks in Athens on 18-19 January 2010. The CPT’s delegation, which included the President of the Committee and the Head of the delegation that carried out the visit in September 2009, met the Minister of Citizen’s Protection, the Alternate Foreign Minister, the Deputy Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Transparency as well as the Secretaries General of the relevant ministries and other senior officials. The commitment of the authorities to take concrete action to address the shortcomings identified by the CPT was clearly expressed and a number of initiatives were outlined. The Committee welcomes the constructive approach of the authorities.
Nevertheless, as matters stand at present, the CPT finds itself in the unfortunate position of having to repeat a large number of recommendations, many of which are long-standing. The persistent non-implementation of its recommendations by the Greek authorities has left the Committee with little choice but to invoke the procedure provided for in Article 10, paragraph 2, of the Convention. The Committee trusts that concrete action will be taken in response to this visit report, thereby rendering the making of a public statement unnecessary.
10. At the meeting with the Greek authorities which took place at the end of the visit on 29 September 2009, the delegation made five immediate observations under Article 8, paragraph 5, of the Convention. The Greek authorities were requested to provide the CPT by 15 November 2009, respectively, with:
- confirmation that Cell No. 4 at Xanthi Police and Border Guard Station has been taken out of use until it has been completely refurbished and provided with both natural light and artificial lighting;
- confirmation that the two metal structure containers used for detention purposes by the Port Authority of Patras have been taken out of use;
- confirmation, in respect of all women’s prison establishments, that cavity (vaginal) searches of women are only carried out by a qualified doctor who is not the treating doctor, and that the cavity searches are only carried out on the basis of an individual risk assessment and not as a routine security measure;
- confirmation that the seven cells measuring 2.2m˛ or less in the confinement unit of Patras Prison are no longer used to hold inmates;
- specific information on the improvements being made to Amfissa Prison in terms of decongestion, material conditions, staffing, health care provision, and regime.
11. By letter of 25 November 2009, the Greek authorities informed the CPT of measures taken in response to some of the afore-mentioned immediate observations, and to other issues raised by the delegation at the end-of-visit talks. This information has been taken into account in the relevant sections of the present report.
However, the letter of 25 November 2009 did not address the observation requesting that the two metal structures used for detention purposes by the Port Authority of Patras be taken out of service. During the high-level talks in Athens on 18-19 January 2010, it emerged that no action had been taken to respond to this immediate observation. Such inaction is unacceptable and not in line with the principle of cooperation, as laid down in Article 3 of the Convention. The Minister of Citizen’s Protection assured the delegation that immediate steps would be taken to comply with the observation and to take the containers out of service (see paragraph 85).
12. The CPT’s delegation visited a number of establishments under the authority of the Ministry of Interior (regional police headquarters and stations, transfer centres, detention facilities for foreign nationals), certain of them for the first time. It also visited facilities of the Port Authorities, under the authority of the Ministry of Merchant Marine, and special holding facilities for aliens under the joint responsibility of the Prefectures, Regions and the Ministry of Interior.
13. The relevant provisions of the Criminal Code concerning detention of criminal suspects by law enforcement authorities have not changed since the CPT’s last visit to Greece in September 2008: a criminal suspect may be held in a police or border guard station for up to six days, after which the person concerned should be transferred to a remand prison.
However, due to the overcrowding in many prisons, persons remanded in custody, or even sentenced, could continue to be detained for months on end in police stations.
14. As concerns the detention of irregular migrants, the relevant 2005 Aliens Law was amended in July 2009, extending the length of detention from a maximum of three months to six months. Further, the detention may be extended by an additional period not exceeding twelve months if an irregular migrant refuses to cooperate with the deportation process or while waiting for requested documentation from the country of origin of the migrant to arrive.
Upon apprehension by the police, an irregular migrant is held in a police or border guard station until the prosecutor decides whether or not the migrant should be prosecuted for the criminal offence of illegal entry or administratively deported. Usually, such a decision is made within a few days.
In almost all cases, the prosecutor opts for administrative deportation and the irregular migrant should subsequently be transferred to a dedicated Police Holding Facility or a Special facility for the detention of irregular migrants. However, the CPT’s delegation found once again that many irregular migrants were being held in police or border guard stations for the full length of their detention, due to the lack of capacity in the dedicated establishments.
15. As already noted in the report on the 2005 visit, under the authority of the Harbour Master of a Port Authority, the Coast Guard is responsible for apprehending persons attempting to enter Greece irregularly by sea. In addition, the Coast Guard carries out police duties in the port territory. Within this area, which may include the shops and offices along the harbour road, the Coast Guard has the power to arrest and detain any person suspected of committing a criminal offence, including the apprehension of persons attempting illegally to enter or leave the territory of Greece. Irregular migrants apprehended and detained by the Coast Guard are transferred to the police after completion of the necessary formalities (usually within a day or two).
16. The treatment of persons detained by law enforcement officials has been a focus of the CPT’s activities in Greece since its first visit to the country in 1993. In the course of each visit, the CPT’s delegation has received numerous allegations of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials. The corresponding visit reports have highlighted a number of cases as examples in order to draw the attention of the authorities to the practice of ill-treatment by the Greek police. The examples of cases of alleged ill-treatment were intended to alert the authorities to the problem and to urge them to investigate thoroughly the prevalence of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials in order to take concerted action to combat this phenomenon.
Regrettably, despite overwhelming indications to the contrary, the Greek authorities have, to date, consistently refused to consider that ill-treatment is a serious problem in Greece and have not taken the required action. For instance, there is still no adequately resourced police inspectorate, nor is there a credible, independent and effective police complaints mechanism, which will lead to allegations of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials being investigated thoroughly and, where appropriate, prosecuted rigorously.
It should also be noted that the CPT continues to receive claims from persons who state that the prosecutor or court dismissed their allegations of police ill-treatment without examining the matter.
17. In the course of the 2009 visit, the CPT’s delegation once again received many allegations of ill-treatment of detained persons by officers of the Greek Police. The allegations concerned primarily kicks, slaps, punches and blows, with batons and other objects, including on the soles of feet and on fingers, mainly during questioning by the Security Police, but also upon apprehension. In certain instances, the ill-treatment alleged was of such severity that it could be considered as amounting to torture.
The CPT is particularly concerned by an allegation received concerning members of the Serres Security Police, who were said to have placed a plastic bag over the head of a criminal suspect during questioning, and by alleged threats of rape made by police officers, based in Thessaloniki, similar to the incident described in the report on the 2007 visit. In the 2009 case, a young man claimed that at the time of his apprehension he was threatened with rape and that later, in the police station, he was spread-eagled against a wash basin with his shorts pulled down while a police officer stood astride him and simulated having anal intercourse.
18. In a number of cases, the delegation’s medical doctors found that the persons concerned displayed injuries which were consistent with their allegations of ill-treatment. By way of illustration, the CPT will refer to the following four cases:
A detained person interviewed at Patras Gounari Street Police Station alleged to have been punched in the eye and nose on 19 September 2009 by a police officer after having been apprehended. The man, inter alia, displayed purple bruising and swelling around the right eye consistent with his allegation and a hospital X-ray revealed a nasal fracture. On the right side of the chin, there was an excoriation (1 cm in diameter) and on the left side a linear excoriation (2 cm in length), both fresh. The man also had a stitched wound on the back of his head which he said had been caused when he had hit the ground after having been punched.
On 20 September 2009, at Thessaloniki Monasteriou Police Station, the CPT’s delegation met a woman who alleged that some 48 hours earlier during transport to the police station, she was struck several times with a baton on the right hand and forearm, while handcuffed behind the back. This woman had extensive purplish bruising extending over the outer side of the right hand, wrist and forearm and on palpation displayed tenderness over the fourth and fifth metacarpal bones.
A young man met by the delegation alleged that he had been beaten by police officers two days previously at various locations in a police station in northern Greece (in the lift, in a bathroom and in the office of the security department) and while being transported in a police car. He claimed that he had been punched by several police officers, one of them at some point wearing a boxing glove, on various parts of the body, including the abdomen, the face, and the nose. He said that he had also been hit with various objects, that his fingers had been forced back by a police officer and that, at one point, the chair he had been sitting on was pulled from underneath him.
On examination, the person concerned displayed a swelling (2cm x 3cm) and redness of the left temple. There was reddish bruising on the left lower eyelid and a reddish/purplish bruise (1cm x 0.5cm) in relation to the left upper jawbone. He was unable to fully open his mouth, consistent with a possible fracture of the zygomatic arch. In addition, there was a purplish/blue bruise on the left outer thigh (8cm x 5cm) and an abrasion over the left achilles tendon.
A detainee interviewed at the Filakio Special detention facility for irregular migrants alleged that he was struck with a baton on the right upper arm and back by a police officer in his dormitory, a day before. Upon examination, the person was found to display tramline bruising on his back and shoulder, characteristic with having been hit with a rod-like object: on the right shoulder, there were three red parallel lines (10, 8 and 4 cm long respectively) and on the right upper back there were two red parallel lines (with a length of 8 and 4 cm).
19. The CPT’s delegation brought the relevant details of the allegations mentioned in cases 1 and 2 above to the attention of the Greek authorities and it was subsequently informed that a Sworn Administrative Investigation had been opened in each of the cases. The CPT would like to receive information about the different steps taken to investigate these allegations. It would also like to receive information about the outcome of both the administrative and criminal investigations.
The personal details relating to the allegations referred to in cases 3 and 4 above were not brought to the attention of the Greek authorities because the persons concerned said they were afraid that they would be subjected to acts of retaliation if it became known that they had spoken about their treatment to the CPT’s delegation.
20. Information was also received during the visit about a recent incident at the Feres Border Guard Station. Allegedly, G. O. M.,* born in 1973 of Iraqi nationality, had his leg seriously injured at the end of July or beginning of August 2009 as a result of having been beaten by police officers. A few weeks later he was transferred to the Soufli Border Guard Station, where he was sent to the hospital to be examined and an X-ray of his leg was apparently taken; he was released from detention in mid-September. The CPT was later informed that, on 9 September, Mr M.’s lawyer had made a complaint to the Head of the Alexandroupoli Police and requested that an investigation be carried out. The CPT would like to receive up-to-date information on action taken following that complaint.
21. Several irregular migrants complained about the physical force used by members of the Greek Police during deportations. The CPT is not in a position to verify these allegations, but it is concerned that there still appear to be no guidelines in place concerning the use of force in the context of deportations. Reference should be made to standards developed by the CPT in its 13th General Report, in this context. The CPT recommends once again that the Greek authorities draw up a comprehensive protocol regulating deportations, in particular as regards the use of coercive measures.
22. On several occasions the CPT has provided the Greek authorities with detailed information on allegations of ill-treatment it has received during visits, in the expectation that these allegations would be investigated by an independent body, in a thorough, comprehensive, and reasonably expeditious manner. Regrettably, from ex-post examinations into the action taken by the Greek authorities, the CPT has learned that all too often such an investigation did not take place in that manner.
In its reports on the 2005, 2007 and 2008 visits, the CPT highlighted flaws in the investigation of allegations of ill-treatment, such as, for example, the lack of promptness and expeditiousness in carrying out investigations and the poor quality of the forensic medical examinations. In addition, the CPT has repeatedly pointed to the passive role of prosecutorial or judicial authorities as regards starting an investigation into allegations of ill-treatment. The CPT’s criticism has been echoed by other bodies, both national and international, such as the Greek Ombudsman and the European Court of Human Rights.
23. In its report on the 2008 visit to Greece, the CPT made reference to “a climate of impunity within law enforcement agencies”. The information gathered in the course of the 2009 visit to Greece suggests that the situation has not improved; a reluctance to investigate allegations of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials was again observed. For example, in case 2 referred to in paragraph 18, the duty officer at Thessaloniki Monasteriou Police Station refused the delegation’s request to arrange for a forensic medical examination of the woman in question, while vehemently denying the possibility of any police involvement in the alleged assault. He stated that he would not take any action until the person concerned had filed a formal written complaint, even though she had made an oral complaint to the officer.
According to the CPT’s understanding of the relevant Greek legislation, the allegations should have been recorded immediately in writing by the duty officer and subsequently signed by the complainant, in order to initiate an administrative procedure. At the time of the visit, no such action had been undertaken in this case, nor had any criminal investigation been launched.
24. To avoid any perception of impunity, it is crucial that effective action is taken when any information indicative of possible ill-treatment comes to light. In this regard, it is well established through the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights that, whenever a person was injured while in the hands of public officials, there is a strong presumption that the person concerned was ill-treated and the authorities’ duty is to provide a satisfactory and convincing explanation of how the injuries were caused, failing which a clear issue arises under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The CPT recommends that police officers be reminded of this precept. Further, the CPT would like to be informed about the action taken by the Greek authorities in respect of the apparent breach of law by the Thessaloniki police officer referred to in paragraph 23.
25. The CPT also remains concerned about the apparent absence of an expeditious approach when investigations into allegations of ill-treatment by police officers are initiated. For example, the investigation into a case of alleged ill-treatment of a foreign national detained in Omonia Police Station in Athens, highlighted in the report on the CPT’s 2008 visit to Greece, was still pending one year later. The CPT would like to receive an update on the investigation into this case.
26. The credibility of the prohibition of torture and other forms of ill-treatment is undermined each time officials responsible for such offences are not held to account for their actions. If the emergence of information indicative of ill-treatment is not followed by a prompt and effective response, those minded to ill-treat persons deprived of their liberty will quickly come to believe – and with very good reason – that they can do so with impunity. This can only undermine efforts to promote human rights principles through the professional training of police officers.
27. More specifically, investigations into allegations of ill-treatment should satisfy the requirements for an effective investigation as reflected in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. Reference should also be made to the 1999 United Nations Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (‘Istanbul Protocol’), which inter alia states that such a type of investigation should be carried out by investigators who shall be independent of the suspected perpetrators and the agency they serve, in addition to being conducted promptly and effectively.
By contrast, in Greece, according to the 2008 Decree on Police Discipline, investigations into allegations of physical ill-treatment and of other disciplinary offences are normally initiated and carried out by the local police force to which the accused police officer belongs. In general, the procedure commences with a Preliminary Official Inquiry, upon the decision of a superior officer of the law enforcement official concerned, and following a written complaint; the Inquiry is carried out by either the superior officer or by another senior officer appointed by him. 
Only in cases where there are clear indications that a serious disciplinary offence may have been committed, will a so-called Sworn Administrative Investigation be initiated. This investigation is carried out by a police officer belonging to a different administrative entity than that of the law enforcement official concerned. If the investigation finds that the allegation is founded, punishment is decided upon by a disciplinary board (composed of police officers) or the file is communicated to the competent pubic prosecutor (in the event of the threshold for a criminal offence having been reached).
28. In addition to making a complaint to the police, which currently appears to represent a highly unattractive option for many would-be complainants, allegations of ill-treatment may also be lodged directly with the prosecutor. According to the circular of 4 June 2008 by the Chief Public Prosecutor, prosecutors receiving an allegation of ill-treatment are under an obligation to initiate a criminal investigation, including a medical examination by a forensic doctor.
The CPT understands that criminal investigations into alleged police ill-treatment by the police are usually carried out by the local police services but that they may be transferred to the Ministry of Interior’s Internal Affairs Department in Athens, particularly as regards high profile cases.
29. The remarks in the preceding paragraphs should not be understood as suggesting that all members of the Greek Police Force mistreat detained persons. On the contrary, on many occasions the CPT’s delegation witnessed police officers operating in a professional and respectful manner, and many detained persons spoke positively about staff. However, as was also acknowledged by some of the police officers interviewed, ill-treatment of detained persons by police officers does occur, undermining the reputation of, and public confidence in, the Greek Police Force. In the view of the CPT, insufficient effort has been made to date to effectively investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of ill-treatment. Effective permanent structures to combat police ill-treatment must be established, in order to safeguard the credibility and authority of the Greek Police.
30. The CPT is aware that certain steps to improve the quality of investigations into allegations of ill-treatment by police officers have been taken. By letter of 26 February 2010, the CPT was informed that a complaints body (Arbitrary Incidents Office) will be established, which will cover the uniformed services under the responsibility of the Ministry of Citizens Protection (Coast Guard, Fire Brigade and Police). This body will be authorised to receive complaints from citizens concerning any ”illegal behaviour” of officers serving with the coast guard, fire brigade or police, including allegations of ill-treatment. Further, the Greek authorities imply that the Arbitrary Incidents Office will be provided with the necessary means and powers to carry out rapid and effective investigations into such complaints. Further, the staff employed by the Office will be independent of the coast guard, fire brigade and police, and will include academics and members of the judiciary.
31. The CPT welcomes the establishment of the Arbitrary Incidents Office and would like to receive detailed information on the competencies, powers and staffing of this Office as well as on its organisational position within the Ministry of Citizens Protection.
Further, the Committee recommends that the Greek authorities also fundamentally review the manner in which allegations of ill-treatment by police officers are reported and recorded.
32. The CPT attaches particular importance to the safeguards against ill-treatment which are offered to persons deprived of their liberty by the police, in particular the rights of detained persons to inform a close relative or another third party of their situation, to have access to a lawyer, and to have access to a doctor. As the Committee has repeatedly stressed, these are fundamental rights which should be enjoyed by all categories of persons (including persons detained under Aliens’ legislation) from the very outset of their deprivation of liberty (that is, from the moment when the persons concerned are obliged to remain with the police).
Further, persons detained by the police should be expressly informed, without delay and in a language they understand, of all their rights, including those referred to above.
33. As has already been indicated in previous CPT reports, the Greek Code of Criminal Procedure provides immediate access to a lawyer "at the most early stage" for persons held in a police station under criminal investigation. The Greek Criminal Code also states that a lawyer must be present during questioning and that a request for access to a lawyer may never be refused.
In addition, the Circular (Protocol 4803/22/44) of 4 July 2003 issued by the Greek Chief of Police on “Treatment and rights of persons detained by police authorities” recalls the legal obligations upon the police to protect fundamental human rights of persons deprived of their liberty, and makes specific reference to both Greek and international law. It mentions inter alia, the right to a doctor's examination, including by a doctor of the detained person’s own choice, the right to communication with relatives and the right to be fully informed about all the rights to which he/she is entitled during the period of detention. The Protocol also reiterates the detained person’s right of access to a lawyer.
34. As regards access to a lawyer, the CPT’s delegation found once again that the legal obligation on police officers to grant detained criminal suspects immediate access to a lawyer is, in practice, not an effective safeguard against ill-treatment, as it may be ignored or circumvented without consequences. Most detained persons continue to claim that they only meet a lawyer at the first court hearing.
The CPT calls upon the Greek authorities to take immediate steps to ensure that all persons deprived of their liberty by law enforcement officials have effective access to a lawyer, as from the very outset of their deprivation of liberty; the Greek Bar Association should be consulted in this context.
35. The CPT’s delegation found once again that access to a doctor was still not fully effective in practice. Access to a doctor remains dependent on the goodwill of law enforcement staff on duty, and various persons who claimed to have been ill-treated told the CPT’s delegation that access to a doctor was refused or significantly delayed by police officers.
As a safeguard against ill-treatment, as well as for reasons of public and individual health, the CPT has repeatedly advocated that the Greek authorities establish a system of regular visits by doctors to police (and border guard) stations to screen new arrivals and enquire whether there are detainees with potential medical problems. However, no action has been taken to date to put in place such a system. The CPT calls upon the Greek authorities to review the existing arrangements concerning the organisation of health care for persons held in police stations, in the light of the above remarks.
36. Further, persons suffering from mental illness in police custody should be provided with appropriate care; the findings of the CPT’s delegation indicate that such care needs to be strengthened. The delegation came across a person under a judicial deportation order in Chios Town Police Station; this person’s mental health had apparently deteriorated considerably due to his prolonged detention in police custody. At the suggestion of the CPT’s delegation, the psychiatrist from the local State hospital examined the detained person and issued an opinion to the effect that his mental health had indeed deteriorated. According to the Greek authorities, this person was transferred on 3 October 2009 to a mental health institution in Athens.
A similar case was encountered at Moschatou Police Station in Piraeus, where the delegation’s psychiatrist expressed concern at the behaviour of a Ghanian national, and recommended that he be properly assessed. By letter of 23 November 2009, the Greek authorities informed the CPT that the man had refused to be transported to hospital for an assessment, and that he had been deported two days later, on 27 September 2009.
The CPT recommends that steps be taken to ensure proper care for persons with mental health problems detained by the police.
37. As regards the right to inform a third person of one’s detention, the CPT’s delegation received contrasting information: in some police stations this right appeared to be diligently complied with, while in others this was not the case.
The CPT has advocated in previous reports that any possibility, exceptionally, to delay exercise of the right to inform a third party of one’s custody should be clearly circumscribed in law. As far as the CPT is aware, no such legal regulation has been adopted.
The CPT calls upon the Greek authorities to take immediate steps to ensure that persons deprived of their liberty by law enforcement officials have an effective right to notify a close relative or third party of their choice of their situation, as from the very outset of their deprivation of liberty. Further, legal provisions should be adopted spelling out the circumstances when the exercise of the right to inform a third party of one’s custody can be delayed and making any such delay subject to appropriate safeguards (e.g. any delay to be recorded in writing along with the reason, and to require the approval of a prosecutor or judge) and strictly limited in time.
38. In many police and border guard stations visited, an information sheet detailing the rights of detained persons was available in various languages. The information sheet explicitly refers to the right of access to a lawyer and the right to inform a third person. However, this sheet does not refer to the right of access to a doctor.
At certain police stations visited by the delegation, such as Orestiada Police Station, detained persons said that they had been informed of their rights at the outset of the detention in a language they could understand. However, many foreign persons interviewed complained that they were unable to read the information on the sheet, as they had only received a version in Greek, or that they had not been given the information sheet promptly.
The CPT recommends that the information sheets be amended to include the right of access to a doctor. Further, the Committee calls upon the Greek authorities to ensure that forms setting out the rights of persons brought into police custody are systematically provided to such persons in the appropriate language, at the very outset of their custody.
39. All police and border guard stations visited make use of a general custody register. In this register, the duty officer records the date and time of admission and discharge of a detained person, as well as all external movements, such as a hospital visit.
Some of the custody registers consulted by the CPT’s delegation were not adequately kept. For instance, on 23 September 2009, a detained Russian national had not been registered despite being held at Soufli Border Guard station for about 10 hours at the time of the delegation’s visit. Further, on 22 September 2009 at Xanthi Police Station, the delegation met a man who said that he had been detained at Kavala Police Station for some time the day before. These statements were confirmed by detained persons at Kavala Police Station and at Xanthi Police Station. However, the custody register at Kavala Police Station does not make any reference to this man.
In other cases, the custody register held inaccurate information, possibly deliberately so. For instance, at Serres Police Station, the custody register recorded that a detained Romanian national was sent to Serres hospital and returned on the same day, when in fact he had spent the period between 16 and 18 August 2009 in the hospital, allegedly after having been ill-treated by members of the Serres security police.
40. The CPT considers that the fundamental guarantees of persons placed in police custody would be reinforced if a single and comprehensive custody record were to be kept for each of these persons. In this record would be entered all aspects of custody and all measures taken in connection with it (when and for what reason(s) the custodial measure was taken; when the person arrived on police premises; when he/she was informed of his/her rights; whether he/she showed signs of injury, health alert issues given with the consent of the detained person, etc.; in which cell(s) he/she was placed; when fed; when questioned; when he/she had contacts with and/or visits from close relatives, a lawyer, a doctor or a representatives of the consular services; when transferred; when brought before a prosecutor; when remanded or released, etc.).
Further, for various matters (for example, the personal possessions or evidence of information on and exercise of fundamental rights), the detained person’s signature should be required and, where appropriate, its absence duly accounted for. This would make it possible to check more accurately whether detained persons had availed themselves of their rights, and would also protect police officers against false allegations. The records with these details should be kept at the location where the person concerned is detained and be accessible to the detained person’s lawyer.
The CPT recommends once again that the Greek authorities introduce an individualised custody record, in line with the criteria referred to above.
41. The CPT has repeatedly recommended that the Greek authorities establish an independent police inspectorate; in their response to the report on the 2008 visit the Greek authorities implied that such a task is currently performed by the Greek Ombudsman. However, the Greek Ombudsman does not consider his Office to be the appropriate body for such a task given its overarching mandate of complaints-based public administration oversight. The CPT remains convinced that a dedicated structure should be established to carry out inspections of police stations.
The CPT reiterates its recommendation that the Greek authorities establish an independent police inspectorate.
42. The Circular of 4 July 2003 on “Treatment and rights of persons detained by police authorities”, referred to above, applies equally to administratively detained irregular migrants, whether held in police or border guard stations or in dedicated detention facilities for aliens. In other words, irregular migrants are entitled to access to a lawyer and to a doctor, as well as to have the fact of their detention notified to a close relative or third party of their choice.
43. Similar to criminal suspects, administratively detained irregular migrants should receive an information sheet detailing their rights, which makes reference inter alia to the right of access to a lawyer and a doctor. The information sheet is produced in a number of languages (including Arabic, Farsi, English, Georgian and Russian), and in certain police stations, such as Piraeus Moschatou and Serres, irregular migrants said that they had been informed of their rights in a language they could understand. However, in most police stations visited by the delegation, irregular migrants claimed that this had not been the case.
The CPT recommends that the Greek authorities remind police officers that information on rights should be provided in a language that the detained person understands.
44. Concerning the right to inform a third person of one’s detention, the information sheet mentions the entitlement to contact a Consulate, but no reference is made to family members or other relevant third persons. Telephones were available in the centres visited, albeit out of order in some centres such as in Mytilini. However, the lack of means for many detained irregular migrants to buy a telephone card and the confiscation of their mobile phones meant that in practice many persons could not inform a family member or third party of their situation, even if they were permitted to do so. The CPT recommends that the policy of systematically confiscating the mobile phones of detained irregular migrants be reviewed. Further, persons without a mobile phone and with insufficient means should be offered a free phone call to inform a family member or third party of their situation.
45. Access to a lawyer has lost much of its potential effectiveness as a safeguard against ill-treatment given that administratively detained irregular migrants do not have access to free legal aid. Most irregular migrants possess insufficient means to pay for a lawyer themselves and there are only a few lawyers conducting work on a pro bono basis. Guaranteed access to a lawyer would also give meaning to the right to seek review by a court of both detention and deportation (respectively, Articles 76 (3) and 77 of the 2005 Aliens Act).
As far back as 2001, the CPT recommended that provision be made for assistance by a state-appointed lawyer in cases where an administratively detained irregular migrant was not in a position to appoint and pay for one himself. The CPT continues to believe that such a right should exist. The CPT recommends that the Greek authorities introduce free legal aid for irregular migrants without undue delay.
46. As regards access to medical care, irregular migrants detained in police and border guard stations are confronted with the same difficulties as criminal suspects, except that their period of detention tends to last much longer (up to six months). By contrast, all but two of the dedicated detention facilities for irregular migrants visited by the delegation have a daily presence of medical doctors and nurses.
The exceptions were the Piraeus Holding Centre for Aliens and the Athens Airport Holding Areas, where many detained persons claimed that staff would filter requests for a consultation by an external doctor. The CPT wishes to emphasise that filtering requests to consult a doctor may have far reaching consequences for the individual concerned, for other detained persons sharing the cell and for police officers performing custodial duties. For instance, at Athens Airport Holding Areas, the delegation’s doctor had to intervene to ensure that one detained person, who had repeatedly requested and been refused medical attention after suffering from blood and grit in his urine, was sent to a specialist department for an urgent medical examination. In the light of the numbers of persons detained at the Athens Airport Holding Areas, it is essential that there be a daily nursing presence and regular visits by a doctor. The CPT recommends that the Greek authorities take the necessary steps to ensure that this requirement is met.
It should also be noted that even in the other dedicated detention facilities for irregular migrants, access to medical staff was severely restricted due to the huge demand for medical attention and the fact that in several of the facilities, doctors did not go into the cells (Venna) or even the detention area (Mytilini).
47. The delegation met many detained persons in police and border guard stations who suffered from skin infestations, such as scabies. This was particularly the case for irregular migrants, most of whom had been detained without having undergone a medical examination upon admission. It also appeared that detention areas would not always be properly disinfected following an outbreak of a skin infestation. The CPT was told that members of the Greek Police are themselves preoccupied with the health situation in police detention facilities and have, through the Police Union, called for an assessment. As the CPT has already recommended (see paragraph 35), all newly arrived detainees in police and border guard stations should be screened by a doctor.
48. In the reports on the 2005, 2007 and 2008 visits, the CPT qualified the conditions of detention in police and border guard stations as “grim”, noting the severe overcrowding, poor material conditions, absence of ventilation and hygienic problems. Regrettably, this description remained valid for the conditions observed in most stations visited in the course of the 2009 visit to Greece. The conditions were particularly poor at Athens Omonia Police Station, Feres Border Guard Station, Patras Police Headquarters and Xanthi Police and Border Guard Station, as well as at the Patras Transfer Centre.
49. Police and border guard facilities continue to be overcrowded and in all but a few establishments (such as the Thessaloniki Monasteriou Police Station and the Piraeus Moschatou Police Station) detained persons were observed sleeping on the floor. In certain establishments, overcrowding would regularly reach severe levels; for instance, at the time of the visit, Feres Border Guard Station was holding 50 irregular migrants in two cells of approximately 48m˛ each, with an additional 13 irregular migrants placed together for a number of hours in an adjacent holding cell of 12 m˛. At Patras Police Headquarters, 24 detained persons were sharing four cells with a total surface of less than 30 m˛ on 19 September and, at Mytilini Police Headquarters 25 persons were being held in three cells with a combined floor space of less than 34 m˛, on 23 September.
50. The CPT has already it made clear that police and border guard stations do not offer suitable accommodation and appropriate conditions for lengthy periods of detention. In the course of the 2009 visit, it became apparent that the situation had not improved, as such facilities continued to accommodate for weeks and even months, both irregular migrants and persons facing criminal charges.
In fact, even at acceptable occupancy levels, from an infrastructural point of view, only two of the police and border stations visited possessed an outdoor exercise yard and therefore could be considered suitable for periods of detention lasting longer than 24 hours: Feres Border Guard Station and Chios Town Police Station. However, at the time of the visit, even at these establishments outdoor exercise either took place on an irregular basis for not more than 20 minutes (Feres) or had been discontinued (Chios).
51. In their response of 23 November 2009 to the delegation’s preliminary observations, the Greek authorities informed the CPT that administrative detention of irregular migrants in police and border guard stations would be ended, and that in the future administratively detained irregular migrants would only be accommodated in dedicated detention facilities. Further, the response stated that between 17 October and 10 November 2009 a total of 3,200 irregular migrants had been released. The CPT welcomes this move by the Greek authorities to comply with the long-standing recommendation of the Committee not to hold administrative detainees in police and border guard stations. The CPT would like to receive confirmation that police and border guard stations are no longer used to accommodate administratively detained irregular migrants.
Further, the CPT recommends that every effort be made to ensure that criminal suspects placed on remand are transferred to a prison without delay.
The Committee also recommends that arrangements be made for all persons detained for more than 24 hours in a police or border guard establishment to be offered daily outdoor exercise of at least one hour.
52. Most police or border guard detention facilities visited consisted of multi occupancy cells of different sizes, with closely spaced concrete plinths on which to sleep. In some establishments, there was in-cell sanitation, such as in Serres, Feres (two of the three cells) and Xanthi (all but one cell); in other facilities, the toilets were not always directly accessible for detained persons, and in Amfissa Police Transfer Centre, Thessaloniki Monasteriou Station, the holding cell at Feres Border Guard Station, Chios Town Police Station and Neo Karvali Border Guard Station, detained persons complained that they did not always have access to a toilet and that, particularly at night, they often had to relieve themselves in bottles.
Further, male and female detainees were often placed in the same detention area, albeit in different cells; for example, at both the Athens Omonia Police Station and the Thessaloniki Kordello Border Guard Station the cell for female detainees is exposed to the cells used by male detainees. At Siderokastro Police Station, male detainees were only obstructed from watching female detainees making use of the sanitary facilities by cardboard and paper tucked between the bars of their cell. A similar lack of privacy for female detainees was observed at Patras Mavromateon Street and Chios.
53. Many police and border guard facilities did not even guarantee the basic needs of detained persons in terms of bedding, appropriate food and minimum levels of hygiene. For example, at Siderokastro Police Station, detained persons slept on the floor as the cells possessed neither beds nor plinths. In several establishments, not all detained persons were provided with mattresses (Patras Police Headquarters, Soufli and Xanthi stations) or blankets (Chios).
The arrangements as regards the provision of food in many police and border guard stations also remain inadequate. The daily allowance of Euro 5.87 suffices to buy a couple of sandwiches and a bottle of water, sufficient for criminal suspects remaining a short time in detention, but it does not enable detained persons to purchase the necessary nutrition (and other products) required during prolonged periods of detention. By contrast, in those police stations where food is provided from the police canteen or by a caterer twice a day, the situation is better, although more vegetables and fruit could be provided, especially at Thessaloniki Monasteriou Station.
Detained persons also complained generally about the challenge of keeping themselves clean; besides, at best, a limited access to showers, soap and shampoo were provided in limited quantities but other hygienic items, such as toothpaste and toilet paper, had to be bought or obtained from those with money. The lack of hot water meant that the limited clothes possessed by detainees could not be properly washed, thereby further compromising personal hygiene, in particular for those held for prolonged periods.
54. In addition, the establishments visited were often dilapidated - non-functioning toilets (Amfissa Police Transfer Centre, Omonia Police Station), showers out of order (Patras Gounari Street) - and dirty (cells were frequently littered with rubbish and sanitary facilities tended to be filthy). The insalubrity was partly caused by chronic overcrowding and partly by the widespread lack of detergents available to detained persons. In certain establishments, cups of detergents were distributed periodically but not the equipment to carry out the cleaning, such as buckets, mops and brooms.
Further, none of the cell areas in the detention facilities visited was equipped with a functioning call bell, and often there was no police officer in the vicinity.
55. Lack of access to natural light and the absence of, or existence of extremely weak, artificial lighting were problems encountered in a number of police stations (for instance, Thessaloniki Dodecanesis Street, Athens Omonia, Siderokastro, Patras Transfer Centre and Police Headquarters). The CPT considers that all cell areas of police and border guard stations should preferably have access to natural light and must in all cases have sufficient artificial lighting (i.e. enough to permit a person to read).
56. On a positive note, the delegation did observe that the new cells for criminal suspects at the Soufli Police and Border Guard Station were clean, properly equipped with beds, toilets and a shower and had access to sufficient natural light and artificial lighting. The CPT trusts that these detention facilities represent a new benchmark.
That said, the Soufli facility is not equipped with a yard for outdoor exercise (cf. recommendation in paragraph 51).
57. The CPT calls upon the Greek authorities to review conditions of detention in police and border guard stations, to ensure that:
- all detained persons have ready access to a proper toilet facility, including at night;
- female detainees are held in an area which is separated from that accommodating male detainees, and that their privacy is guaranteed;
- each detained person is provided with a clean mattress, clean bedding and a means of rest, such as a plinth or a bed;
- the provision of food for detained persons is adequate and appropriate;
- all detained persons staying longer than 24 hours are provided with a basic sanitary kit (including adequate rations of soap, washing powder, toilet paper, shampoo, shaving utensils and tooth paste, and a tooth brush) free of charge;
- all detained persons are provided with sufficient quantities of detergent to keep their cells clean;
- detention areas (including sanitary facilities) are maintained in an adequate state of repair and cleanliness;
- all detained persons have access to adequate lighting;
- all detained persons staying longer than 24 hours have access to a shower and to hot water;
- call bells are installed in all detention areas where staff are not continuously present.
58. In its report on the 2008 visit, the CPT stated that the detention conditions at the Xanthi Police and Border Guard Station could be considered as inhuman and degrading, and yet they were in an even worse state at the time of the 2009 visit. For example, cell N° 4 was without any light (natural or artificial) and the delegation had difficulties identifying the occupants of the cell in the dark; the absence of any light in the toilet area of the cell had led to unhygienic conditions detrimental to human health.
With reference to Article 8, paragraph 5, of the Convention, the CPT’s delegation requested that the Greek authorities immediately take Cell N° 4 out of use until it was completely refurbished and provided with both natural light and artificial lighting. By letter of 23 November 2009, the Greek authorities informed the CPT that this particular cell had been refurbished and that ‘a glass wall’ had been installed to allow access to natural light. The CPT takes note of these adaptations.
59. In the past, the CPT has advocated the establishment of posts of specialised custodial staff for persons detained by law enforcement agencies, with full responsibility for detained persons, including medical and legal oversight. In order to be fully effective, such custodial officers should have both the authority and the responsibility to verify whether basic rights of detained persons, such as notification of deprivation of liberty, access to a lawyer, etc., have been respected, and to take appropriate action if this is not the case. The CPT recommends that the Greek authorities give due consideration to the proposal to establish posts of specialised custodial staff for persons detained by law enforcement agencies.
60. At Thessaloniki Monasteriou Police Station, the delegation found an eight month old baby who was being accommodated with her mother in a cell together with another woman who smoked constantly. Little effort had been made to provide conditions for the mother to take care of her child appropriately; neither warm water to wash the child, nor hygienic products were available, and the mother had to rely on other detained persons to provide many basic amenities. Moreover, no consideration had been given to transfering mother and child to a more suitable environment. An intervention from the CPT’s delegation was necessary to convince staff that urgent action was required.
In certain circumstances it could well be in the best interests of a child, in particular one of very young age, to stay with his/her parents, even if they are in police custody. However, if such a decision is taken, the authorities must ensure that appropriate conditions (including accommodation) are offered under which parents can continue to provide parental care.
The CPT recommends that the Greek authorities issue guidelines to the police on care of children remaining in detention with a parent.
61. The CPT’s delegation carried out follow up visits to the special detention facilities for irregular migrants in Filakio, Mytilini and Venna, and the police holding facilities in Athens (Athens Airport, Petrou Ralli Street) and in Piraeus.
The state of affairs in these facilities continues to be a cause for great concern. The situation has been further exacerbated by an increase in the length of detention in many facilities as compared to situation found in 2008; for instance, in 2008, irregular migrants were often only held for a few days in the Mytilini Special detention facilities for irregular migrants (“Pagani”) due to the serious overcrowding in that centre. However, in 2009 the policy of early release had been abandoned and the CPT’s delegation met migrants who had already spent over two months in Pagani.
62. In the course of the 2008 visit, the CPT’s delegation had visited Filakio, Pagani and the Petrou Ralli Street Police Holding Facility. In its report on that visit, the CPT made recommendations as regards detention conditions, staffing, regime and medical care. However, it appears that only in the Petrou Ralli centre has some progress been made as regards the conditions of detention and the provision of medical care.
As for the Piraeus and Venna centres, they were found to be suffering from exactly the same deficiencies as those identified during the 2007 visit, and the conditions at the Athens Airport Holding Areas had deteriorated further from those found in 2005.
63. As detention periods of up to six months have become the norm (for some migrants extendable to up to one year) following the entry into force of the amendment to the 2005 Aliens Act in July 2009, the need for the Greek authorities to address the structural deficiencies as regards the holding facilities for irregular migrants has become even more urgent. In order to create acceptable conditions for such lengthy detention, substantial investments will have to be made, not only as regards the accommodation, but also in respect of staffing, maintenance, medical care, regime and hygiene.
64. The Mytilini Pagani Centre has been described in previous reports and has a capacity for approximately 300 irregular migrants. However, it is usually overcrowded during the summer months; for example, in the month of September 2009 its occupancy level fluctuated between 461 and 700 persons. At the time of the visit, the centre was accommodating 578 irregular migrants. Once again this Centre was operating far beyond its infrastructural capabilities, resulting in a shortage of even the most basic facilities and amenities, such as toilets, showers, beds and mattresses.
The Centre was filthy beyond description and the detention conditions for some, if not all, of the irregular migrants could easily be described as inhuman and degrading. For instance, on the day of the visit, 141 women, babies and children were being held together in a room with waste water seeping onto the mattresses, only one small electric water heater available, windows lacking panes, insufficient provision of blankets and a single functioning toilet. The situation was made worse by a lack of access to outdoor exercise; some migrants claimed that they were only allowed outdoors for a weekly head count.
In the report on the 2008 visit, the CPT had stated that the conditions at Pagani were “abominable” and called for immediate emergency measures; regrettably, no efforts had been made to improve the situation by the time of the 2009 visit. However, by letter of 26 February 2010 the CPT was informed by the Greek authorities that the Pagani facility had been closed down and that it would be replaced with more appropriate accommodation. Apparently, irregular immigrants arriving on Lesbos are currently transferred to other centres, such as the one in Samos, until such time as the new facility is opened.
65. The Athens Airport Centre, visited previously by the CPT in 2005 was divided into three distinct units: one unit of nine “single-occupancy” cells for male irregular migrants, a unit with three dormitories for families and single women and a unit with three rooms for male asylum seekers (several of whom had been returned to Greece under the Dublin II Regulation).
At the time of the visit, the units for male irregular migrants and for male asylum seekers were severely overcrowded: the nine single occupancy cells (each 9m˛) were in fact holding a total 69 persons and the unit for male asylum seekers, with 10 beds, was accommodating 18 persons. Many detained persons had to sleep on mattresses, or just blankets, placed directly on the floor.
The overcrowding at the Athens Airport facility was compounded by other deficiencies. In particular, the unit for male irregular migrants was filthy. Further, persons detained in this unit were not allowed to take a shower and several of them complained about access to toilets. None of the migrants detained at the Airport Centre were offered access to outdoor exercise, despite the average length of detention in this centre being approximately 10 days, as the facility had no yard.
66. At the time of the visit, the Filakio Centre was accommodating 316 migrants (308 men and eight women). Despite the Filakio facility rarely surpassing its official capacity, the CPT’s delegation observed that, at times, individual dormitories would hold many more irregular migrants than there were beds available. For instance, between 8 and 14 September 2009, up to 80 migrants were being accommodated in dormitory No. 4, which had 25 sets of bunk beds, while at the same time, other dormitories had empty beds. The explanation provided by the commander of the centre was that he preferred to keep the various nationalities together.
In its report on the 2008 visit, the CPT described the Filakio Centre in more or less positive terms. In the intervening period, some improvements had taken place in respect of recreation: on occasion, the large yard (formerly closed) was used, providing the migrants with an opportunity to play football or basketball. However, during the 2009 visit, the CPT’s delegation noted a particularly tense atmosphere between staff and migrants.
Further, the CPT’s delegation received information that the detention conditions in this centre were at risk of deteriorating. Apparently, the Prefecture and the Region have accumulated large debts with private suppliers, which could affect the catering, fumigation, maintenance and cleaning of the facility.
67. The Venna facility has an official capacity of 222 and, at the time of the visit, was accommodating 201 male irregular migrants in five large dormitories. The facility was in the same unsatisfactory state as was observed in 2007; poorly lit, dirty and badly maintained, with broken window panes. It is noteworthy that on 8 August 2009, the local Police Union sent a letter to the Rodopi Regional authorities requesting a number of urgent measures to improve the hygiene and material conditions, including regular cleaning of the dormitories and the installation of a sick bay. The regional authorities apparently agreed with the requests but were unable to take any action due to a lack of financial means.
Further, given the existence of two large yards, there was no justification for the detainees only being offered outdoor exercise every second day for two hours.
68. The Petrou Ralli Centre remains an unsuitable place for holding irregular migrants for prolonged periods, as the CPT made clear even before its official opening in 2005.  At the time of the 2009 visit, the Centre was accommodating 218 male detainees, 77 adult female detainees and five female juveniles, rendering the population of the male section slightly above its capacity of 208; some of the male detainees slept on a mattress directly placed on the floor. That said, in general the state of hygiene was much better than in the past and access to the toilets, including at night, was no longer a problem due to the constant presence of police officers in the corridors.
The CPT’s delegation also noted that the outdoor exercise yard was now in use, although detainees were still not being offered access to it every day. A number of detainees claimed that during the summer months when the Centre was overcrowded, they had been accommodated outside in the outdoor exercise yard for several days and nights.
69. In its report on the 1997 visit, the CPT had stated that the Piraeus Holding Facility for Aliens “is only acceptable for periods of detention of up to a few days, and then only if the physical shortcomings regarding the lighting and ventilation of the premises and the absence of facilities for outdoor exercise are remedied. Should the Centre be required to accommodate foreign nationals for longer periods, other substantial improvements would be necessary to ensure detention conditions adapted to their circumstances”. In their response, the Greek authorities reassured the CPT that “all the deficits noted by the Committee in regard to these cells have been restored, and in due time they will be operational.” Following renewed criticism by the CPT of the facility in 2001, the Greek authorities indicated that “the renovation of the building has proved to be unfeasible” and that “a new building (..) has already been found”. However, in 2007 the CPT’s delegation noted that the same building was still in use and that the detention conditions had not improved. Moreover, irregular migrants could be held for as long as nine months in this facility.
In 2009, the conditions of detention remained totally unsatisfactory: dilapidated, gloomy and dirty, still with no access to outdoor exercise.
By letter of 23 November 2009, the Greek authorities informed the CPT that the Piraeus facility was scheduled for demolition at the beginning of 2010, and that a new building would be constructed. The CPT trusts that the design of the new facility will take into account the Committee’s criteria for places of detention for irregular migrants, as formulated in the 7th General Report on the CPT’s Activities.
70. A general problem in the special facilities for irregular migrants and the police holding facilities visited were the difficulties experienced by detainees in keeping themselves clean, due to the insufficient quantities of detergents and products for personal hygiene. In some facilities, small quantities of soap and washing powder and sometimes shampoo would be issued to detained persons, in others only soap. Similarly, toilet paper was not issued on a systematic basis. Other hygienic items, such as toothbrushes and toothpaste had to be acquired by the detained persons themselves. Shaving kits were generally not allowed, and if these could be obtained from staff, they had to be shared with many others.
In view of the already precarious medical condition of many of the persons concerned, the CPT reiterates the necessity for the Greek authorities to consider (personal) hygiene as a matter of priority.
71. With respect to the facilities visited, the CPT calls upon the Greek authorities to ensure that:
- occupancy rates are respected, and if necessary revised, so as to offer a minimum of 4m˛ of space per detainee in multi-occupancy accommodation;
- all detainees are offered a bed or plinth, bedding and mattress, all clean;
- all detainees have ready access to toilet facilities, including at night;
- all detainees are offered at least one hour of outdoor exercise a day;
- regular maintenance work and disinfection is carried out and sufficient funding is made available to this end;
- sufficient quantities of detergent and products for personal hygiene are made available at all times to detainees.
The CPT would also like to receive confirmation that the Piraeus centre has been definitely closed, as well as details on the capacity and layout of the facilities replacing both the Pagani and Piraeus centres.
72. More than four years after the adoption of the 2005 Aliens Act, there is still no special regulation in place detailing the minimum operating standards for special facilities for irregular migrants as required by Article 81. Consequently, these facilities continue to be run like large police stations, and detainees are not offered any activities. In the facilities visited in 2009, the CPT’s delegation observed that detainees spent their time either sleeping or in a state of idleness; they did not even have access to reading material, board games, radio or television.
More than ever there is an urgent necessity to adopt standards guaranteeing a diversified regime, with activities and recreation. In addition, norms with respect to the provision of appropriate medical and social care should be included in the operating standards, as well as issues related to the maintenance of order and discipline. At present, no guidance is given to law enforcement officials assigned to the facilities on the measures to be taken in the event of a disturbance or breakdown in order; staff are left to improvise. Similar operating standards should be introduced for the police holding facilities.
The CPT calls upon the Greek authorities to take the necessary steps to draw up and implement, as soon as possible, operating standards for both the special facilities for irregular migrants and police holding facilities, guaranteeing, inter alia, a regime offering activities and recreation.
73. At a minimum, a person with a recognised nursing qualification must be present on a daily basis at all centres for detained irregular migrants. As stated above in paragraph 46, this was not the case at the Athens Airport and Piraeus Facilities. In contrast, the Filakio, Pagani, Petrou Ralli and Venna detention facilities had their own in-house medical service. The medical staffing complement at Filakio was still one full-time doctor and two part-time nurses, while at Petrou Ralli there was an increased presence of a doctor and at Pagani, a doctor was present on a daily basis.
As concerns Venna, at the time of the visit, one full time doctor was attached to the Centre. However, the difficulties as concerns the provision of medical care flagged in the CPT’s report on its 2007 visit to Greece, appear not to have been fully resolved. In a letter, dated 5 August 2009, the Rodopi Police Union expressed its concern as regards the provision of medical care; notably that the nurse had not been paid for six months and that no doctor had been attached to Venna during the summer months, when the Centre was at its most crowded.
The CPT has already recommended that the detention facility for irregular migrants at Athens Airport benefit from the presence of medical staff on a daily basis (cf. paragraph 46). Further, the Committee recommends that the Greek authorities take adequate measures in order to ensure regular medical care is provided at all centres where illegal migrants are held.
74. In addition to the medical care provided by the centres, medical screening of new arrivals for tuberculosis was consistently carried out in Filakio and in Pagani. At Petrou Ralli, all new arrivals were also screened for skin manifestations.
At Venna, as a consequence of the absence of a doctor between 9 July and the beginning of September 2009, several newly arrived migrants had not been medically screened, which meant that persons suffering from transmissible diseases or infections were not identified. In one dormitory, the delegation met a man who had apparently been diagnosed as suffering from tuberculosis prior to coming to Greece. As this man was coughing up blood, his medical condition required an immediate medical examination, and he was transferred to hospital at the request of the delegation.
No screening for transmissible diseases took place at the Athens Airport Holding facilities. The CPT recommends that new arrivals at these facilities are screened for infectious diseases, including tuberculosis. In all centres, medical examination upon arrival should be carried out, including screening for skin infections.
75. The CPT reiterates that staff in centres for immigration detainees have a particularly onerous task. Firstly, there will inevitably be communication difficulties caused by language barriers. Secondly, many detained persons will find the fact that they have been deprived of their liberty difficult to accept. Thirdly, there is a risk of tension between detainees of different nationalities or ethnic groups. Consequently, the CPT attaches particular importance to the careful selection and appropriate training of supervisory staff in centres for immigration detainees. As well as possessing well-developed techniques of interpersonal communication, the staff concerned should be familiarised with the different cultures of the detainees and at least some of them should have relevant language skills.
76. Regrettably, no efforts have been made either to assign specially trained and dedicated staff to work with irregular migrants or to increase staff numbers. Consequently, the only role left to the police officers is one of control and enforcing a warehousing policy. The staff complement attached to the facilities visited remained totally insufficient; for example at the time of the visit, at both the Filakio and Pagani centres there were only six police officers on duty during the day for, respectively, 201 and 548 irregular migrants. The CPT once again calls upon the Greek authorities to review the staff complement attached to each special facility for irregular migrants and police holding facility. Further, the Committee recommends that the Greek authorities provide adequate training for staff working in dedicated detention facilities for irregular migrants.
77. In discussions with staff, it became evident that it was not only the low staff complement which resulted in restrictions on the movement of irregular migrants. In some facilities, staff said that they would faced severe disciplinary punishment in the event of an escape from one of the centres. Such a threat played an important role in influencing their behaviour towards the detained migrants. Not surprisingly, many police officers performing guard duties in dedicated facilities for the detention of irregular migrants have adopted a no-risk approach, preferring for instance to keep irregular migrants locked up in their cells rather than permitting access to the yards which might increase opportunities for escape. It also sheds light on the reasons for the alleged severe reaction by police officers when an escape or attempted escape does takes place. The CPT would like to receive the comments of the Greek authorities on the above.
78. The CPT was informed that the Greek Police Force is a strong proponent of regular inspections of hygiene in police detention facilities, including dedicated detention facilities for irregular migrants. The CPT would certainly support proposals to carry out regular inspections to police and border guard stations and to dedicated facilities for irregular migrants, as well as to coast guard detention facilities. The CPT would like to receive the comments of the Greek authorities on the above.
79. As indicated in previous CPT reports, the Committee believes that much would be gained from the improved organisation and enhanced cooperation between the main actors responsible for managing accommodation and care for irregular migrants. The Filakio special facility continues to demonstrate that when all the relevant State and local government bodies cooperate, it is possible to achieve a reasonably clean and well-maintained establishment. Clearly, other dedicated detention facilities for irregular migrants could also benefit from the more substantial involvement of the region and prefecture in their management. The CPT would like to receive the comments of the Greek authorities on this matter.
80. In the course of the 2009 visit, the CPT’s delegation visited the Port Authorities of Chios, Mytilini and Patras. In the CPT’s view, its standards for police and border guard stations apply equally to coast guard facilities serving a similar purpose, whether temporary or not.
81. In the Chios Port Authority building, the one cell (4.6m˛) was adequate for holding persons for short periods of time, as was usually the case. However, it was not suitable for overnight detention (for example, two persons were held from 20 to 23 July 2009); anyone required to spend one night or longer in detention should be transferred to Chios Town Police Station.
Irregular migrants apprehended by the Coast Guard are held in a pre-fabricated structure (40m˛) with a tiled roof, consisting of three inter-connecting rooms, a toilet and a sink. Access to artificial lighting and natural light is adequate and ventilation sufficient. As a rule, irregular migrants are only held in this facility until such time as they have been processed (personal details recorded, finger-printed, medically screened at the hospital), which usually takes a few hours; thereafter, they are transferred to the special detention facility for aliens outside the town. Given the limited conditions and absence of access to outdoor exercise, every effort should be made to avoid large numbers of irregular migrants having to spend several days (Friday to Monday) in this pre-fabricated structure, as has occurred on occasion.
82. The single cell (6m˛) in the Mytilini Port Authority building has been refurbished and the deficiencies pointed out in the CPT’s report on the 2005 visit remedied. Criminal suspects were usually only held in the cell for a few hours; in the course of the first nine months of 2009, only one of the eight persons detained had been held overnight.
83. The Patras Port Authority building was destroyed during the 2008 earthquake and a new building, which should include a detention area, was scheduled to be constructed in 2010. In the meantime, persons apprehended by the Port Authority were being held in two metal structure containers, one of which was partitioned to create a discrete area for women detainees. The Harbour Master informed the delegation that irregular migrants should normally be held for only short periods, but that recently the Port Authority had had to detain persons for much longer as the Patras Police were apparently not in a position to receive the irregular migrants sooner.
84. At the time of the visit, the conditions in these two containers were totally unacceptable and could be described as inhuman and degrading. The containers were poorly ventilated, stuffy and dimly lit with very limited access to natural light, and they were devoid of any furnishings; the wooden floors were strewn with blankets and clothes, clearly infested, and upon which detainees slept; no mattresses were provided; and a hose pipe served as a shower. The state of hygiene was appalling and many persons were suffering from skin infections; the reportedly twice monthly disinfections were evidently not sufficient. Detainees were apparently taken to two portable toilets located outside the containers three times a day, but were always handcuffed to another detainee each time they went to the toilet; the limited access to an outside toilet was evident in the row of plastic bottles, filled with urine, lined up in a corner of each container. Food was provided twice a day, at 15h00 and 22h00, but many inmates complained about the lack of access to drinking water. No outdoor exercise was offered.
On the day of the visit, one container was holding 15 men in some 27m˛ while the other container, partitioned into two separate areas, held nine men in 17m˛ and two women in 10m˛. A number of the persons met had been held in these conditions for seven to eleven days, which was not uncommon according to the registers; further, the numbers detained on occasion amounted to as many as 45 at one time.
In addition, persons placed in the containers were not provided with any information, in a language they could understand, about their detention and their rights.
85. The CPT’s delegation made an immediate observation at the end of the visit, requesting that the Greek authorities immediately take the metal structure containers out of service, citing the unacceptable conditions of detention and the public health risk they posed (see paragraph 11). By letter of 4 March 2010, the Greek authorities informed the Committee that the two metal structure containers had been taken out of service following the meeting of the Minister of Citizen's Protection with the CPT's delegation on 18 January 2010, that the detainees had been transferred to special police detention facilities and that new accommodation would be constructed in the Port area. This action is to be welcomed. The CPT would like to receive details about the design and capacity of the proposed new detention facility.
86. In 2009, the CPT’s delegation visited for the first time Amfissa, Patras, Thessaloniki and Thiva Prisons as well as Malandrino Prison. It also carried out follow-up visits to Chios and Korydallos Men’s Prisons and undertook a targeted visit to Korydallos Women’s Remand Prison to examine the progress made in implementing the Committee’s recommendations contained in the report on the 2005 visit, notably, as concerns persons placed in segregation areas, staffing, the provision of health care and overcrowding. In September 2009, these institutions, taken together, comprised more than 40% of the prisoner population in Greece. A brief description of each of these prisons is contained in section 3 below.
87. In the four years since the CPT’s last periodic visit to Greece, a number of new establishments have been opened and the capacity of the prison estate has apparently increased from 5,500 to around 7,500. Further, a new prison at Serres is scheduled to start operating in early 2010, and two more prisons should be completed by the end of 2010, notably in Drama and Chania; according to the Ministry of Justice these three prisons will together provide an additional 2,500 places. However, to date the programme of prison building has been unable to keep pace with the increase in the prison population, which stood at 10,950 at the time of the visit.
The effects of overcrowding were evident in most of the prisons visited by the CPT’s delegation. At Korydallos Men’s Prison, the situation remains dire with three or four inmates sharing cells originally designed for single-occupancy. In other prisons, such as Amfissa and Chios, inmates have to share beds or resort to sleeping on a table or on the floor. The situation in these prisons may be extreme but the deleterious effects of overcrowding were apparent in other prisons visited by the delegation, and from the information at the CPT’s disposal it is evident that many prisons in Greece continue to suffer from severe overcrowding.
88. The CPT recognises that investing in new prisons may be necessary both to increase capacity as well as to replace prisons which do not serve the stated purpose of holding inmates in a secure and safe environment. However, the building of additional accommodation is unlikely, in itself, to provide a lasting solution to the problem of overcrowding. The experience of other European countries illustrates the difficulty of attempting to resolve overcrowding solely through increasing capacity. By contrast, the promotion of policies to limit and/or modulate the number of persons being sent to prison has tended to be an important element in maintaining the prison population at a manageable level.
The Minister of Justice announced in November 2009 his intention to propose legislation to limit the use of remand custody to serious offences. The CPT welcomes such measures to limit the use of pre-trial custody through amending the criminal legislation; efforts should also be made to reduce the time spent in prison pending trial. The Committee has also noted that measures adopted in December 2008 and July 2009 have resulted in some 1,500 persons being released early from prison. These measures were adopted as an ad hoc response to a critical situation following widespread disturbances in Greek prisons in late 2008; however, they did not address the structural deficiencies. Further, to gain legitimacy, the implementation of early release must be seen to be fair and transparent by prisoners; at the time of the 2009 visit, prisoners did not perceive this to be the case. There is also scope for an increased use of alternatives to imprisonment, particularly for short sentences, through enhancing greater public (and judicial) confidence in such measures as electronic surveillance and community-based programmes.
The CPT calls upon the Greek authorities to pursue fresh approaches towards eradicating overcrowding as a chronic feature of the prison system, in the light of the above remarks.
89. Overcrowding is not the only problem afflicting the prison system. The CPT was once again deeply concerned by the unsuitable material conditions, the absence of any appropriate regime and the poor provision of health care. Further, due to the totally inadequate staffing levels, effective control within the accommodation areas of the prisons visited had been ceded in many instances to prisoners. Further, there is an absence of any communication between the prison administration and inmates about their rights in prison. Prison directors appeared helpless and, with one exception, even defeatist in the face of the task of managing their establishments. It appeared to the CPT’s delegation that a regulated prison system, as aspired to in the Prison Law, had given way to a policy of warehousing prisoners, mirroring the approach taken towards irregular migrants. Discussions with the prison administration in Athens seemed only to revolve around a “virtual prison”; the delegation’s interlocutors appeared to be disconnected from the actual situation in the country’s prison establishments.
In the CPT’s view, there are a number of fundamental structural issues which are undermining attempts to provide appropriate conditions of detention and treatment for persons deprived of their liberty. They include a lack of any strategic plan to manage complex institutions such as prisons, the absence of an effective system of reporting and supervision, and inadequate management of staff. Recognising that there is a need for fundamental reform does not amount to denying that many prison staff across the Greek prison system are attempting to fulfil their duties to the best of their ability. However, for any reform process to be effective, the Ministry of Justice must first recognise that the prison system as it is currently operating is not able to provide safe and secure custody for inmates, nor fulfil the objectives set down in law.
The CPT recommends that, following a period of in-depth consultations with all interested parties, the Ministry of Justice produce a strategic plan for the recovery of the prison system that addresses the following areas:
- the mission of prisons and the values to which prison staff should work;
- the size of the prison estate and the range of the prison types that it will include;
- the range of activities that will be provided and the amount of access that persons detained, including those on remand, will have to them;
- the human resource requirement needed to run the prisons professionally, including competence profiles for the key roles;
- financial projections over a 5 to 10 year period, showing how the planned provision will be met within the resource levels available;
- clearly defined short, medium and long term goals.
90. At all the prisons visited the delegation received practically no allegations of deliberate physical ill-treatment of prisoners by prison staff. Relations between prison staff and inmates were, in general, distant due to their minimal contact and, in a number of the prisons visited, inmates told the delegation that in the interests of maintaining a modicum of order it would not be in the interests of prison staff to ill-treat prisoners.
That said, the delegation did receive some allegations of verbal abuse and intimidation by prison officers, notably by prison officers working with juvenile inmates at Thiva Prison.
The CPT recommends that the Greek authorities remind prison officers, particularly at Thiva Prison, that verbal abuse and intimidation of prisoners is not acceptable and will be dealt with severely.
91. The CPT was extremely concerned to learn that many female prisoners at both Thiva Prison and Korydallos Women’s Remand Prison were still being subjected to a vaginal search, every time they left the prison (e.g. to go to court or hospital or to take an educational exam) and upon their return; and this despite the fact that they were always accompanied by at least two prison officers. Newly admitted or transferred prisoners were also being subjected to a vaginal search and/or being sent to the segregation unit for several days, where the toilet facility was under constant camera surveillance. For example, the delegation met an inmate in the segregation unit of Korydallos Women’s Remand Prison who, upon arrival from Thiva Prison three days earlier, had been strip searched, subjected to a vaginal search by a prison officer (wearing a white coat), given a urine test and placed in isolation. Another inmate explained that upon her arrival at the main gate of Thiva Prison, a prison officer had carried out a vaginal search while she stood naked in the presence of another officer; this search was followed by a second one some 30 minutes later by a nurse. This inmate and others stated that they were told they would be sent to the segregation unit for several days if they refused to agree to a vaginal search.
In the report on the 2005 visit, the CPT stated that such an approach was certainly disproportionate and could well be considered as degrading. In their response to that report, the authorities stated that examinations of bodily orifices were only carried out on those prisoners “whom the prison authorities have probable cause to believe, through the production of concrete evidence, that they will make an attempt at bringing into the establishment narcotic substances”. However, the information gathered during the 2009 visit indicates that this is not the case. Examinations of this nature should be conducted exceptionally on the basis of a risk assessment, not routinely. Further, an intimate internal examination should be conducted by a medical practitioner only, it being understood that this medical practitioner should not be the doctor who would treat the patient with respect to health related issues. Nursing assistants who are prison officers with some limited nursing qualifications or on-the-job experience only should certainly not carry out such examinations. It also goes without saying that examinations of this intimate nature must be conducted in a way that respects, as far as possible, the dignity of the prisoner.
92. In response to the immediate observation on this matter made by the delegation at the end of the visit, the Greek authorities state that all vaginal searches are performed in accordance with the relevant legislation. Further, they state that searches are not compulsory as the inmates must give their written consent; if no written consent is given, no vaginal search will be conducted but the inmate will be transferred to the segregation unit for several days where she will be placed under CCTV surveillance whenever she goes to the toilet. The authorities also state that the measure is only applied to inmates with a specific profile, notably those who are suspected of or have been convicted of drugs offences, or where there is information that they may attempt to smuggle prohibited substances into the prison.
However, the facts found during the 2009 visit clearly demonstrate that vaginal searches on women are not carried out based upon a proper risk assessment but as a routine measure. Further, at both Thiva Prison and Korydallos Women’s Remand Prison, vaginal searches of inmates were performed without having obtained written permission and were in many cases carried out by prison officers acting as medical orderlies. Information from the authorities that a doctor from the State Hospital of Thiva will now visit Thiva Prison twice a week and be the sole person authorised to carry out vaginal searches is a step in the right direction, but it does not meet all the Committee’s concerns.
The CPT calls upon the Greek authorities to end the practice of routine vaginal examinations of female prisoners at Thiva Prison and Korydallos Women’s Remand Prison and ensure: that such examinations are only carried out when absolutely necessary; that each examination is properly recorded in a special register; that they are performed by a medical practitioner, who is not the treating doctor of the person concerned; and that they are carried out under conditions which respect physical safety and human dignity.
93. The Committee also has grave misgivings about the consequences of choices offered to many women prisoners upon their admission to Thiva Prison, whereby those prisoners who refuse a vaginal examination are de facto punished by being placed in the segregation unit for a number of days during which time they have to take laxatives. To begin with, obliging women prisoners to take laxatives is a dangerous practice that should be ended forthwith. Moreover, prisoners should not be placed in a position of having to effectively choose a period of segregation as an alternative to a vaginal examination. This is all the more so given that the delegation was informed by staff at Korydallos Women’s Prison that in the event of a woman refusing a vaginal search an ultrasound examination could be performed; however, in practice this or other alternatives would appear never to have been proposed.
The CPT recommends that the Greek authorities take due note of these remarks when considering alternatives to a vaginal search. Further, the CPT reiterates its recommendation that the practice of obliging women prisoners to take laxatives be immediately ended.
94. The CPT was also concerned to learn that appropriate action was not always taken in respect of persons admitted to prison on remand with visible injuries. Examples of failure by the prison authorities to bring such cases to the attention of the relevant prosecutor were found in Amfissa, Korydallos Men’s and Thessaloniki Prisons, even when the injuries concerned and related allegations had been noted in both the administrative and medical files. This inaction undermines the very safeguard against ill-treatment and impunity that a thorough medical examination of all newly admitted inmates can represent.
The CPT recommends that:
- any signs of injury to a newly-arrived prisoner as well as relevant statements by the person concerned and the doctor’s conclusions (including as to the degree of consistency between the prisoner’s statement and the injuries observed) be duly recorded by the examining doctor;
- procedures be in place to ensure that whenever injuries are recorded which are consistent with allegations of ill-treatment made by the prisoner concerned (or which, even in the absence of an allegation, are clearly indicative of ill-treatment), the record is systematically brought to the attention of the competent prosecuting authorities. The results of the examination should also be made available to the the prisoner concerned and his or her lawyer.
Further, the introduction of a special register for cases of injuries identified by the medical examination on admission would constitute an important tool both for prison management and those responsible for external supervision. The CPT recommends that such a register be introduced at each prison.
95. The Committee’s delegation observed that inter-prisoner intimidation was a significant phenomenon in the various prison establishments visited.
In many of the prisons visited, there was evidence of stronger groups of inmates being able to impose their will upon other prisoners. The number of violent incidents being brought to the attention of the prison management was not a good indicator of the underlying problem as it primarily took the form of threats of violence. Prisoners noted the absence of prison officers in the wings, observed the actions of the stronger groups of prisoners, and concluded that the prison management was not in a position to offer prisoners effective protection. Further, it was clear that prison management was willing to cede control of certain wings to particular groups of prisoners in return for maintaining a degree of order. An observant visitor walking through the rooms and wings at Amfissa, Chios, Korydallos Men’s or Patras Prisons would notice this phenomenon.
96. The CPT has stressed in the past that the duty of care which is owed by the prison authorities to prisoners in their charge includes the responsibility to protect them from other prisoners who might wish to cause them harm. The prison authorities must act in a proactive manner to prevent violence and intimidation by inmates against other inmates. Addressing the phenomenon of inter-prisoner violence requires that prison staff be alert to signs of trouble and both resolved and properly trained to intervene when necessary. The existence of positive relations between staff and prisoners, with a balance between security and a duty to care, is a decisive factor in this context. This will depend greatly on having an adequate number of staff present in detention areas (see paragraph 120 below).
The CPT reiterates its recommendation that the Greek authorities devise a national strategy concerning inter-prisoner violence and intimidation, taking into account the above remarks.
97. Amfissa Prison, located in the centre of Amfissa Town, is cruciform in design and consists of a reception/visits area, six dormitories, two connecting courtyards, a kitchen and a chapel. The prison holds both remand and sentenced prisoners. On the day of the visit, the prison was holding 217 inmates for an official capacity of 80.
Inmates are accommodated on two floors, each consisting of two large dormitories (68m˛) and a smaller one (46m˛). All the dormitories were severely overcrowded with not much more than 1.5m˛ of space per prisoner. In the larger dormitories, some 20 sets of bunk-beds were squeezed together; however, as there were more inmates than beds available, it was not uncommon to observe three inmates having to share two beds. Many inmates complained that they had had to sleep on a mattress on the floor for extended periods. In one of the smaller dormitories, which contained 13 bunk beds for 27 inmates, the delegation met a middle-aged man with serious respiratory problems who carried around his own portable oxygen supplies. This inmate had no bed and slept on the dormitory’s plastic table, which during the day was used for other purposes. In an upstairs dormitory, what appeared to be very small single-occupancy room (2m˛) turned out to be a toilet area over which a mattress had been laid.
In addition to the overcrowding, the dormitories were generally decrepit, in a state of disrepair and appalling hygiene. Floors were grimy, mattresses and bedding were infested with bed bugs, cockroaches were evident everywhere and a number of windows were broken, leaving certain inmates exposed to the elements as winter approached. The sanitary facilities were inadequate for the number of inmates, and there were complaints that one of the two toilets in each dormitory often did not function properly. Inmates complained that they were provided with insufficient quantities of hygiene products and had no means with which to wash their bedding and clothes. They also possessed no personal lockable space.
98. Chios Judicial Prison was described in the report on the 2005 visit and has not changed. At the time of the 2009 visit, it was holding 157 persons for an official capacity of 110.
The problem of overcrowding remained and in six of the nine dormitories there was scarcely 2m˛ per prisoner. There was an insufficient quantity of beds and, at the time of the visit, 17 inmates were forced to share a bed with other inmates or to sleep on a mattress on the floor. The downstairs dormitories were generally clean and well-maintained, and had been recently painted. By contrast, the upstairs dormitories were in a state of disrepair. Inmates complained about the lack of hygiene products provided by the prison administration, and the delegation observed that there was a need for more intensive cleaning to be carried out. The sanitary facilities were barely adequate for the numbers of prisoners (one shower, two toilets and two sinks for 24 inmates) given that inmates had to wash their clothes and dishes in this area too. Further, most inmates had no personal lockable space; as was the case in 2005, the only items of furniture apart from beds were one table and a few chairs in each dormitory.
99. Korydallos Men’s Prison, located in the west of Athens, was built in the 1970’s and initially consisted of four separate wings (A,B, C, D) each containing 120 single-occupancy cells on three floors. A fifth unit (E) was added in the late 1990’s following the conversion of the former Prison for young offenders. At the time of the 2009 visit, the official capacity was 700 while the occupancy level had not decreased since the previous visits in 2005 and 2007 and stood at 2,100.
The phenomenon of overcrowding in this prison is neither new nor temporary. The CPT has been highlighting the necessity for the authorities to take action to reduce the occupancy levels in the cells since 1993. The CPT has recognised in the past that it would be unrealistic to expect the occupancy level to be reduced to the one person per cell original design, but it has recommended that serious efforts be taken to reduce the number to no more than two prisoners per cell. However, in 2009 the delegation observed once again that the 9.5m˛ cells continued to accommodate three or even four inmates.
100. Korydallos Women’s Remand Prison, located across the road from the Men’s Prison, was described in the report on the 2005 visit. It has an official capacity of 270 and at the time of the visit was holding 178 inmates.
The material conditions were generally satisfactory, and the dormitories provided roughly 4m˛ of space per prisoner, which is acceptable. However, the cell accommodation was cramped with three, sometimes four, inmates sharing a cell of 9.5m˛. Despite operating well below its official capacity, the overcrowding is explained by the fact that two of the three main accommodation wings were not in service at the time of the visit, which were apparently closed down due to a lack of staff.
101. Malandrino Prison, located on a plateau in the prefecture of Phocis about an hour’s drive from the nearest town (Amfissa), was opened in 2001. It is the only purpose built high-security prison in Greece for sentenced prisoners. Inmates are housed in 10 two-storey units set off two parallel corridors. More recently, three stand-alone dormitories have been brought into service in the area between the two corridors in order to accommodate vulnerable prisoners and inmates seeking protection. The original capacity of 280 has been increased to 440, without any enhancement of the supporting facilities or of the staffing levels; on the day of the visit, the prison was holding 444 prisoners.
Each of the two-storey units was initially composed of 14 double-occupancy cells but the kitchen and eating space on each floor has now been converted into a dormitory. The cell accommodation was of an acceptable size (12m˛) for double-occupancy and none of the cells was holding more than two persons; further, the cells had adequate access to light and ventilation, appropriate furnishings and an alcove containing a toilet, shower and sink. By contrast, the dormitories (25m˛) were crowded with eight inmates in four sets of bunk-beds and there was no personal lockable space. Inmates complained that none of the call bells in the units worked and in emergencies they had to shout down the corridors to alert prison staff; during a recent self-harming incident, it apparently took 20 minutes for staff to arrive. There were also many complaints that in summer there was only running water for one hour a day, and that during winter the heating was limited to two hours a day.
The conditions in the three stand-alone dormitory units, each of which consisted of a dormitory (34m˛) and a small walled-in yard (58m˛), were generally speaking of a poor standard and very dirty. The dormitories contained five sets of bunk-beds, a table and a few chairs, a sanitary annex and a kitchenette. Inmates complained about the lack of running water and the insufficient quantity of hygiene and cleaning products.
Further, despite the prison being open for only eight years, it was in many respects in a state of disrepair, with communal areas dirty, windows broken, artificial lighting poor, floors and walls grubby and, moreover, there was a general atmosphere of neglect.
102. Patras Prison, located in the industrial zone of the city, was built in 1974 and accommodates only sentenced prisoners. The prison has three main wings (A, B, C) each consisting of three floors, that were accessed off a central corridor, and a smaller wing (D) reserved for workers. At the time of the visit, the prison was holding 709 inmates for an official capacity of 380.
In wings A, B and C, the accommodation mainly consisted of dormitories (22.5m˛) in which up to ten inmates were placed. In addition to the five sets of bunk-beds, the little remaining space was taken up by a table, a few chairs, individual lockers, a television and a fridge. Despite the overcrowded conditions, access to natural light and artificial lighting was generally good and there was adequate ventilation. Each dormitory had a sanitary annexe with one toilet, a sink (this sink was also used for washing dishes and cutlery) and a shower (cold water only). There was also a communal shower area on the ground floor of each wing.
Many prisoners complained about a lack of privacy, especially as most of them were serving long sentences, and the poor state of hygiene, citing the insufficient provision of cleaning products.
The material conditions in the four dormitories of D wing, which accommodated some 60 prisoners in total, were generally acceptable, albeit cramped with less than 3m˛ per prisoner.
103. Thessaloniki Prison, located on the outskirts of the city, accommodates male and female remand prisoners and sentenced male prisoners. The prison consists of three floors, each one giving access to an exercise yard. At the time of the visit, the prison was holding 607 inmates (including 29 women) for an official capacity of 300.
The accommodation consisted primarily of dormitories (24 m˛), each holding 10 prisoners; the cell equipment consisted of five sets of bunk-beds, a small table, some chairs, a television and a fridge. Access to natural light and ventilation was adequate and each dormitory had a sanitary annex with a floor-level toilet, a basin and a shower. Despite the overcrowded conditions, and the impact this had on cleanliness and maintenance, the state of repair in the establishment was not unacceptable.
The women’s unit consisted of three dormitories; conditions were cramped with little more than 2m˛ per prisoner. Access to natural light and ventilation were adequate, and each dormitory contained an air-conditioning unit. In addition to bunk-beds, the dormitories were equipped with a table and a few stools, but there was no personal lockable space or cupboards to keep personal belongings. The sanitary annexes, consisting of a floor-level toilet and sink in the same room were in a good state of repair; however, this sink also had to be used for washing dishes and cutlery.
104. Thiva Women’s Prison, located one hour north of Athens on an open expanse of terrain, is on the same site as the Elaion Detoxification Centre and was opened in mid-2007. The buildings, used as a detoxification centre from 2002 to 2005, had been adapted to serve as the unique prison in Greece for accommodating sentenced women. The Prison contains five single-story units (A to E) off a central corridor in which adult women are placed; in addition, there is a female juvenile unit and a newly built mother and baby unit. Unlike other prisons visited, there was no overcrowding; however, the establishment displayed other serious deficiencies.
Before the delegation visited the individual units, the Director of the Prison acknowledged that the multi-occupancy dormitories did not conform to “European standards” but that it would have been too expensive to convert the large spaces into smaller rooms. A visit to the wings confirmed the inappropriateness of the accommodation. For example, Wing B consisted of a large open communal area which was featureless, with a concrete floor and dark green walls and ceiling; the premises were also partially fire damaged. Leading off this area were five large rooms (roughly 85m˛), each of which contained six sets of bunk-beds and one or two single beds, with an attached sanitary annexe containing three toilets, two showers and four sinks. Each inmate had her own personal lockable space and there were also 2 tables, chairs and 2 fixed television sets in every dormitory.
Notwithstanding the absence of overcrowding, the rooms were bleak and the converted warehouse impression resulted in an unwelcoming environment. Further, the use of loudspeakers to convey messages to inmates was totally inappropriate and, combined with the very limited contact between staff and inmates, only served to reinforce the impersonal approach of the prison.
A major complaint in all the wings visited was the absence of hot water. Many women stated that it was not possible to maintain appropriate levels of hygiene as all washing (personal, bedding, clothes and dishes) had to be done in cold water. As for the ‘baby’ washing machines provided to each wing, they were all apparently broken.
Prisoners on each wing had access to an exercise yard with high walls, to which they were allowed access for two or more hours a day. However, the yards were devoid of any equipment or shelter and most women did not go out as they said there was nothing to do or see.
Each wing had a number of single cells, but they were not generally used. One woman serving a life sentence described the psychological pressure she felt after sharing accommodation with shorter term prisoners but that her requests for the privacy of a single cell were always denied; her solution was to go on hunger strike, which resulted in 20 days confinement and a period of calm.
The conditions observed in the juvenile unit were, by comparison, generally satisfactory, with each double-occupancy cell being suitably furnished and having adequate access to natural light and artificial lighting and sufficient ventilation. The purpose-built mother and baby centre also provided good conditions.
105. The legal basis governing the general daily routine has not changed since 2005, and is laid down in Article 8 of the Decision on the “Internal Regulation of General Detention Establishments Type ‘A’ and ‘B’” by the Minister of Justice, and is the same for all prisons in Greece. For most of the day, between 7h30 and 23h00, prisoners are not confined to their cells and, in theory, between 8h00 and midday and from 15h00 until half an hour before sunset, the prisoners can engage in sports, work, education and other participatory programmes. Additional out-of-cell time is allocated for holidays and during heat waves. However, in reality in none of the prisons visited was it possible to talk of a meaningful regime with purposeful activities for the majority of the prisoners.
106. In all the prisons visited, there was an official list of the number of employment posts that existed, whether or not there was any work available. Obtaining a post was critical for every prisoner as work was the means by which to reduce one’s time in prison. The most prized jobs were those such as electrician, plumber or working in the kitchen, which not only provided purposeful work but also resulted in one day of remission for every day worked. Other jobs such as a cleaner provided for 23 days remission for every month worked (even though the job concerned often only required an hour or less of work per day). In general, the information gathered indicated that work was in essence a remission scheme rather than a means by which to engage prisoners in a purposeful activity or to form part of a personal development plan or preparation for release.
107. At Patras Prison, for example, there were some 296 jobs available (for more than 700 sentenced prisoners), including 44 kitchen staff, 18 bakers, 24 canteen workers and 101 cleaners, as well as a number of skilled posts linked to the maintenance of the prison such as plumbers, metal workers and electricians. In general, prisoners had to wait three to four months to obtain work after applying for a job and work was allocated on a ‘first come first serve’ basis without any assessment of a prisoner’s needs. The prisoners allocated to the more skilled positions and the kitchen staff generally kept their jobs, once appointed, until they left the prison, while the other positions were rotated on a six-month basis. A prisoner could also lose his job due to a court appearance or other temporary absence. Managers confirmed that this was a convenient way of sharing out the limited number of work posts. If found guilty of a disciplinary offence, a prisoner could not only lose his job but be barred from any further employment for a period of 6 to 24 months. For this reason, a number of prisoners met by the delegation spoke of being given a two-year “additional sentence” for a disciplinary offence.
At Amfissa Prison, 100 inmates (i.e. less than half the inmate population) were officially assigned work, most of whom in reality did little or nothing; a similar situation prevailed at Chios Prison, where 41 jobs were provided for more than 150 prisoners.
On the other hand, it should be noted that those prisoners occupying skilled positions carried out essential work for the continued day to day functioning of the prison concerned. In each of the prisons visited, it was an inmate who managed the kitchen, overseeing the work of other prisoners and taking responsibility for the menu and ordering of supplies. Likewise, the essential maintenance work in the prisons was carried out by prisoners, and in some cases even certain administrative functions were under the responsibility of prisoners. In Amfissa Prison, the longest serving prisoner had been led to believe that his requests for transfer had been denied because the administrative tasks he carried out, notably as chief store man, were considered essential to the running of the prison.
For the vast majority of prisoners there was absolutely nothing with which to occupy their days other than watching television and walking in the yards. None of the prisons visited had any sort of organised sports activities or gyms. Instead prisoners manufactured makeshift weights from empty water bottles tied together and filled with sand or tap water. Organised team sports were not in evidence in any prison.
108. As regards access to education, in most of the prisons visited there were little or no opportunities. This was particularly the case for Amfissa, Chios and Korydallos Men’s Prison, but was also very noticeable at Malandrino and Patras Prisons which accommodate many long-term prisoners. At Patras Prison, the delegation was informed of the construction of a school but no timetable was provided nor any indication of the types and numbers of courses to be taught.
At Thiva Prison, a “school of second chance” had been established and in 2008/2009 some 35 prisoners had participated in the five day a week course (8h00 to 13h00) and there were plans to extend the scope of the school. At Thessaloniki Prison, a similar school was in place providing courses to some 72 prisoners in pleasant and well-equipped premises. Further, the delegation was informed of the increased involvement of the Ministry of Education in enriching the various courses on offer, such as one on Information Technology, which would result in a professional qualification.
109. On a positive note, the arts and crafts workshops at Malandrino and Patras Prisons were well appreciated by the prisoners. Likewise, the painting workshops at Thiva Prison were considered extremely positive by the women who attended. The main problem was that the opportunities for participation in these workshops were limited and further, at Thiva Prison, many prisoners preferred to have a nominal cleaning job for which they could obtain 23 day’s remission for every month worked as opposed to 13 day’s remission if they attended a painting workshop.
110. Regrettably, the provisions in the 1999 Prison Law, setting down the standards of accommodation and the norms for a safe environment, including health and hygiene, to be provided to each prisoner, were still not being complied with. The measures undertaken to improve conditions of detention continue to be far too reactive and limited in scope, as opposed to being proactive and comprehensive. While not underestimating the challenges facing the Greek prison system, the CPT considers that it is incumbent upon the authorities to address the shortcomings outlined above in a systematic manner with a view to rendering the day to day reality in prisons consistent with the humane prison policy enshrined in law. The conditions of detention in some of the prisons (or units within prisons) visited by the CPT’s delegation, for example Amfissa Prison, could be described as amounting to inhuman and degrading treatment.
111. The CPT calls upon the Greek authorities to:
- devise a phased programme to reduce the occupancy levels in Korydallos Men’s Prison from the current three or more prisoners per 9,5 m˛ cell to no more than two per cell;
- reduce the occupancy levels in the dormitories of Amfissa, Chios, Malandrino, Patras and Thessaloniki Prisons to ensure that each prisoner is provided with at least 4m˛ of living space;
- ensure that the 9m˛ cells in Korydallos Women's Prison in no cases accommodate more than two persons;
- improve the living conditions at Thiva Prison with a view to alleviating the warehouse environment;
- make concerted efforts to maintain the establishments visited in a good state of repair, including the call bell systems, and to ensure that the accommodation areas in all prisons are kept clean and basic hygiene levels are guaranteed;
- ensure that inmates in all prisons have access to hot water both for reasons of personal hygiene as well as for washing bedding, clothes and dishes, and that they are allocated lockable space for their personal belongings.
112. The Prison Law of 1999 recognises the importance of a satisfactory programme of activities for the well-being of prisoners by enshrining the right for both remand and sentenced prisoners to educational, sports and cultural activities.
However, as already indicated, in none of the prisons visited was there a purposeful regime in place for the majority of prisoners. Not only were many prisoners not involved in some form of organised activity, but the activities available often involved only a small part of the day or were occasional work, and were mostly of a repetitive nature. Such a state of affairs is all the more unacceptable given the clear legal provisions regulating the entitlement of all prisoners to inter alia educational and vocational training, work, organised physical exercise, cultural and recreational activities.
113. Certainly the ability of the prison service to provide purposeful activities, linked in the case of sentenced prisoners to an individualised treatment plan, is to a large extent undermined by the problem of overcrowding. However, one should not wait for that problem to be resolved before improving the opportunities available to prisoners. Proactive measures by the authorities are required, otherwise the prison system is likely to become an even greater breeding ground for criminality. As prisoners approach release into the community they need to be prepared for that step, to possess a degree of self-worth and to feel capable of leading a life away from crime. A regime which provides for varied activities is a vital component in the preparation for release, as well as being beneficial for the running of the prison.
The CPT recommends that the Greek authorities devise means for improving substantially the programmes of activities on offer to inmates (both remand and sentenced) in all the prisons visited.
It is also important that efforts be made, inter alia, to extend educational opportunities; at a minimum, classes in basic literacy (reading and writing) should be on offer to all prisoners in need. Further, it goes without saying that no certificates provided to prisoners upon the successful completion of a course should mention the fact that the qualification was obtained within prison. The CPT recommends that the Greek authorities take the necessary steps to expand the educational opportunities on offer to prisoners, in the light of the above remarks.
114. As regards Malandrino, Patras and Thiva Prisons, which accommodate many prisoners serving long sentences, the CPT wishes to reiterate that long-term imprisonment is widely considered to have a number of desocialising effects upon inmates. In addition to becoming "institutionalised", such prisoners may experience a range of psychological problems (including loss of self-esteem and impairment of social skills) and have a tendency to become increasingly detached from the world into which they will almost certainly eventually be released. In the view of the CPT, the regimes which are offered to prisoners serving long sentences should seek to compensate for these effects in a positive and proactive way.
Prisoners serving lengthy sentences (including life sentences) should have access to a wide range of purposeful activities of a varied nature (work, preferably with vocational value; education; sport; recreation/association). Moreover, they should be able to exercise a degree of choice over the manner in which their time is spent, thus fostering a sense of autonomy and personal responsibility. Additional steps should be taken to lend purpose to their period of imprisonment; in particular, the provision of individualised custody plans and appropriate psycho-social support are important elements in assisting such prisoners to come to terms with their period of incarceration and, in due course, to prepare for release. Further, the negative effects of institutionalisation upon prisoners serving long sentences will be less pronounced, and they will be better equipped for release, if they are able effectively to maintain contact with the outside world.
The relative absence of overcrowding and the potential offered by the existing facilities at Malandrino and Thiva Prisons means that there is no justification for not offering a proper regime to prisoners. At Patras Prison, the development of a gymnasium is a first step but much more should be done to maximise the use of space available within the prison to develop a range of purposeful activities for inmates.
The CPT recommends that immediate steps be taken to develop a suitable programme of activities for inmates serving long sentences at Malandrino, Patras and Thiva Prisons, taking into account the criteria identified above.
115. Greece does not have a dedicated establishment for the detention of female juveniles who are held on remand or sentenced to imprisonment. Instead, one unit at Thiva Prison has been allocated as the place for detaining female juvenile prisoners in the country.
The material conditions in the unit were generally acceptable; however, there is a need for more regular maintenance work (two of the three telephones were out of order and the toilets did not function properly), and greater efforts should be made to provide more positive and personalised conditions. Of greater concern is the fact that the care and regime offered to juveniles was exactly the same as that provided to adult female prisoners which, as described above, were particularly impoverished. No additional efforts were made to provide opportunities for education, vocational training and recreation for the female juvenile population. Nor were any special measures taken to promote contact with the outside world.
More specifically, the delegation received a number of complaints from juvenile inmates, inter alia, that they had not been provided with any information as to the rules and regime, including in relation to purposeful activities on offer; that several of them had been punished as a group for complaining about the lack of hot water by being placed in a bare cell for a few hours; that despite repeated requests to see a gynaecologist and a dentist, access to them remained problematic; that receiving visits was difficult; that no sentence plan had been drawn up for any of the juveniles and that they had received no support in preparing for their release back into the community.
116. The CPT considers that female juveniles deprived of their liberty ought to be held in detention centres specifically designed for persons of this age, offering regimes tailored to their needs and staffed by persons trained in dealing with the young.
As to their regime, female juveniles should be offered a full programme of education, sport, vocational training, recreation and other purposeful activities. Physical education should constitute an important part of that programme. Further, staff who work with female juveniles should be carefully selected for their personal maturity and ability to cope with the challenges of working with – and safeguarding the welfare of – this age group. They should be committed to working with young people, and be capable of guiding and motivating juveniles in their charge.
Special attention must also be paid to the specific medical needs of female juveniles in detention. There should be close coordination between the work of the establishment’s health care team (doctors, nurses, psychologists, etc.) and that of other professionals (including social workers and teachers) who have regular contact with inmates. In short, health care should form part of a seamless web of support and therapy.
117. In the light of the conditions of detention for female juvenile inmates at Thiva Prison, as described above, the CPT recommends that the Greek authorities put in place a properly resourced facility or unit for female juvenile prisoners; the facility should have a child-centred approach, offer a purposeful regime and be staffed by a multi-disciplinary team of professionals.
118. The CPT has stressed in the past that an inadequate staff/prisoner ratio not only renders the provision of an acceptable regime well-nigh impossible, but also generates an insecure environment for both staff and prisoners. In addition to creating a potentially dangerous situation for vulnerable prisoners, it also poses dangers for staff, whose position can be compromised by their inability to exert proper control over - and develop a constructive dialogue with - prisoners.
The chronic understaffing found in all the prisons visited in 2009 represents a further deterioration in the situation observed in 2005.
119. A brief survey of the situation of staff with direct supervisory responsibilities in the prisons visited illustrates the problem clearly.
At Amfissa Prison, five prison officers were on duty during the day (including the Chief Guard) and two at night; during the day, two were posted at the gate to check persons coming in and out of the prison and the other three stayed in the visits/reception area. No prison officers were present in the main part of the prison where more than 200 prisoners were accommodated, milling around on the stairs and in the courtyards. Prisoners would make requests and speak to prison officers through a hatch in the reinforced metal door which separated the reception area from the main prison. Prison officers had no idea what was going on in the dormitories or communal areas and appeared only to enter the accommodation areas to count the prisoners.
At Chios Prison, a similar scenario existed with either four or five prison officers on duty during the day and three at night.
At Malandrino Prison, the purpose built high security prison, for each set of five units (each accommodating 220 prisoners ) there were only three prison officers on duty. Each prison officer was posted in the main corridor outside the locked gate entrance of a unit; two units had no prison officer posted outside and the three officers on duty were out of sight and hearing of these units. Inmates claimed that even during a recent emergency of an attempted suicide, staff did not come to the unit for 40 minutes despite their continued shouting. In all, throughout the establishment there were only 14 prison officers on duty during the day for 444 “high-security” prisoners.
At Korydallos Men’s Prison, the situation remains unchanged from 2005 and 2007, with three prison officers being responsible for a wing of some 400 prisoners. Prison officers remained at the gate and did not actually enter the wings except when additional staff arrived to oversee the midday head count.
At Patras Prison, a comparable situation prevailed with two, sometimes three, prison officers being responsible for a wing of some 200 or more prisoners. The officers were located in an office between the door to the main corridor and the gate to the wing, and communication with prisoners occurred through the bars. For a prison of over 700 inmates the daily staff complement consisted of only 18 prison officers.
At Thessaloniki Prison, the staffing situation was no better with two to three prison officers being responsible for one floor accommodating some 200 prisoners.
At Thiva Women’s Prison, the delegation was informed that a normal shift consisted of a chief guard, three deputy chiefs and a prison officer assigned to each wing. At the time of the visit, the delegation observed that for both A and B Wings there was only one prison officer (a trainee) on duty, located in the control room situated between the two wings, out of sight and hearing of either wing; she was responsible for overseeing up to 120 prisoners (83 on the day). Prison officers did not, in general, enter the wings and both staff and prisoners acknowledged that there was minimal interaction between the two groups.
To sum up, such a state of understaffing is totally unacceptable and is manifestly not conducive to the effective management and control of complex institutions such as the prisons visited.
120. It is not surprising that with such low levels of staffing, prison officers have little control over what is occurring within the cell blocks, and when incidents arise they are not in a position to intervene until after the event; often they do not even know that an incident has taken place. Prisons are effectively being ceded to stronger groups of prisoners and the State is abdicating its duty of care in respect of many prisoners.
The CPT calls upon the Greek authorities to carry out immediately a review of the current staffing levels in the prisons visited and, in the light of the review, make provision to recruit additional staff. In carrying out this review, regard should be had to the role and duties of prison staff as they relate to the purpose of sending people to prison.
121. The CPT’s delegation found little evidence of efforts to recruit staff from diverse backgrounds, despite the fact that nearly 50% of the prisoner population is composed of foreign nationals. At a minimum, foreign national liaison officers should be appointed in the larger prisons, who have an understanding of the culture and language of the main groups in the prison, and who can facilitate the process of adaptation to prison and preparation for the process of release, including release with a view to deportation. The CPT encourages the Greek authorities to develop a human resources policy which includes attracting prison staff from diverse backgrounds.
122. To obtain personnel of the right calibre, the authorities must be prepared to invest adequate resources into the process of recruitment and training.
At present, staff are provided with a minimal amount of training at the beginning of their career, consisting of several week’s on-the-job experience followed by an initial training course in Athens. Staff met by the delegation in the various prisons visited stated that thereafter they had received no refresher courses or specialised training. To date, prison officers have usually been required merely to open and close gates, with limited attention paid towards such issues as dynamic security, rehabilitation of prisoners and personal development of prison officers. Such an approach is not compatible with the purpose of prison as set down in the Prison Law of 1999. Prison officers are on the frontline in terms of managing, controlling and supporting inmates; not only should there be sufficient numbers of prison officers present on the wings but they should be provided with the necessary skills and support to guarantee the implementation of the declared objectives of imprisonment.
To this end, it is necessary to review the initial training programme to ensure that it properly prepares prison officers for the tasks they should be carrying out. Further, the CPT considers it important to be able to offer all prison officers a programme of further training and refresher courses, such as those on mental health, psychology, suicide prevention, anti-bullying, cultural awareness, etc.
123. The CPT recommends that the Greek authorities review the initial training programme for prison officers, in the light of the above remarks. Further, the follow-up training for all prison officers should be developed.
The CPT would like to receive, in due time, a copy of the comprehensive human resources policy for prison staff, which should comprise initial training, regular refresher and specialist courses and ongoing support.
In addition, the Greek authorities are invited to reconsider the most effective deployment of the perimeter security staff and whether that staff’s specific guard functions, as opposed to their escort duties, might be largely replaced by electronic and camera surveillance.
124. The CPT is fully aware of the economic constraints facing the Greek Government, which renders increasing the cost of the prison administration extremely difficult. Nevertheless, the State has an irrevocable duty of care to those in its custody. Making the necessary investment to provide a safe and secure environment in the prisons will be money well spent, bearing in mind what could happen should control of the establishments ever be lost.
125. The findings of the CPT’s delegation during the 2009 visit illustrate that health care services in many of the prisons visited left a great deal to be desired and, more specifically, fell short of meeting the general principle of equivalence of care. It would appear that previous recommendations by the CPT on issues such as staffing, medical screening upon admission, medical confidentiality and health-care policy concerning drug abuse have not been implemented by the Greek authorities. The situation in the prisons calls for an immediate review of the provision of health care services. Further, there is a need for a more rigorous inspection of the manner in which health care is provided to prisoners.
The CPT reiterates its recommendation that the Greek authorities urgently re-examine the general state of health care services in prison establishments. Improving health care in prison will necessitate, inter alia, the recruitment of additional qualified health care staff.
126. The situation in Korydallos Men’s Prison has remained virtually unchanged since the previous visits in 2005 and 2007. There is still no full-time general practitioner for an establishment which accommodates some 2,100 prisoners; instead there is, in theory, a duty doctor of any one of a number of specialities present seven days a week between 15h00 and 23h00. There are also a number of visiting specialists (dermatologist, cardiologist, dentist, orthopaedic surgeon, psychiatrist, neurologist, ENT surgeon) who visit between two and four times per week for a couple of hours at a time. There are also two doctors, appointed on a temporary basis, present Monday to Friday to examine prisoners presenting flu-like symptoms, on account of the current influenza A H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic.
The health care centre is run by nine prison officers working as medical orderlies, one of whom is always on duty, and three inmates; they perform a broad range of nursing duties including the triage of prisoners and the distribution of medication. There are also three qualified nurses working Monday to Friday, two in the morning and one in the afternoon, an increase of one since 2005.
To sum up, primary health care staff resources remain totally inadequate for a remand prison of such a size – a point the CPT has been making consistently since 1993.
The CPT calls upon the Greek authorities to carry out a detailed needs assessment in respect of Korydallos Men’s Prison, to determine the establishment’s requirements in terms of health care staff. As a guideline, the CPT would expect a remand prison of this size to employ the equivalent of at least five full-time general practitioners and some 30 to 35 nurses (several of whom should have mental health training), and to benefit from the full range of visiting specialist medical practitioners.
127. At Korydallos Women’s Remand Prison, there is no full-time doctor but a system of duty doctors working in shifts between 16h00 and 07h00 every day, although at the time of the visit there was no duty doctor available (apparently, budget cuts have resulted in certain shifts not being covered). A variety of specialists visit the prison every week (dentist, dermatologist, cardiologist, gynaecologist, urologist, orthopaedic surgeon, psychiatrist). There are, however, no trained nurses; nursing duties are performed by a number of prison officers acting as medical orderlies and a couple of inmates.
At Amfissa Prison, a rural doctor (that is a recently qualified doctor undertaking a one year residency outside of a major urban area) attended the prison five days a week from 08h00 to 14h00. He is supported by three nurses, two of whom are prison officers with two years of training at nursing school; at least one nurse is present between 07h00 and 21h00, and at night one of them is on call. Three inmates assist the nurses in recording the medication in the register and with its distribution, as well as with cleaning duties. The current situation might be considered on the whole as adequate; however, in practice the health care service was not functioning (for example, poor access to the doctor, confidentiality not respected, medical files kept in the administration offices, no care provided to prisoners with drug problems).
The situation at Chios Prison has improved since the 2005 visit following the appointment of a rural doctor who visits the prison three times a week. With the support of a prison officer and an inmate, the current doctor was providing a good basic service, despite only limited resources. Prisoners with deteriorating mental health problems are referred to the psychiatrist in Chios Hospital. However, the absence of qualified nursing staff represents a serious lacuna.
At Malandrino Prison, there is one full-time general practitioner and four nurses, with the four vacant nurse positions filled by prison officers possessing some practical training. Two inmates also work in the health care centre distributing medication and cleaning. There is no visiting psychiatrist and the post of dentist is vacant; indeed, at the time of the visit some 100 prisoners were on the list to see the visiting dentist, who was contracted to examine seven patients a week.
At Patras Prison, there is one full-time general practitioner (on long-term sick leave at the time of the visit) with another two doctors visiting the prison twice a week; two dentists also visit the prison twice a week. However, at the time of the visit, there was only one qualified nurse supported by four prison officers with some nursing experience. Further, the position of a psychiatrist was vacant.
At Thessaloniki Prison, the health care team consists of one full-time doctor supported by a general practitioner, a psychiatrist and a dentist, all of whom visited two to three times per week. The five nurses work in shifts between 07h30 and 01h00 and are supported by two prisoners working as nursing assistants.
At Thiva Prison, the health care team was limited to one qualified nurse and four prison officers with some nursing qualifications, all of whom worked 12 hour shifts; in addition, there was a dentist and a psychologist, and visits by a number of specialists once a week for a couple of hours ( two general practitioners, a paediatrician, a psychiatrist and a gynaecologist). However, the attendance by the paediatrician was sporadic and many mothers complained they had not been able to see him for months. There was also a need for more psychiatric input. Moreover, due to the lack of a full-time doctor, many inmates are referred to the hospital in the nearby town of Thiva for consultations.
128. The CPT must stress once again that the provision of adequate levels of qualified health care staff is a prerequisite for implementing a proper health care strategy in prison, capable of catering to the specific medical needs present within a prison population.
The CPT has already recommended that the general state of health care services in prisons be reexamined (see paragraph 125 above). As regards more specifically the prisons visited, the Committee recommends, as an initial measure, that steps be taken immediately to reinforce health care staffing levels in order to ensure:
- at Korydallos Women’s Remand Prison, the recruitment of a full-time general practitioner to oversee the delivery of health care services and of qualified nurses, one of whom should be a qualified mental health nurse;
- at Chios Prison, the recruitment of at least one qualified nurse;
- at Malandrino Prison, the recruitment of additional qualified nurses, one of whom should be a qualified mental health nurse, and the provision of specialist medical care on a regular basis, the most urgent need being for a psychiatrist and the equivalent of a full-time dentist;
- at Patras Prison, the recruitment of additional qualified nurses, one of whom should be a qualified mental health nurse, and the provision of a visiting psychiatrist;
- at Thessaloniki Prison, the recruitment of additional qualified nurses, one of whom should be a qualified mental health nurse;
- at Thiva Prison, the recruitment of the equivalent of a full-time general practitioner and the recruitment of additional qualified nurses, one of whom should be a qualified mental health nurse.
Further, as regards Amfissa Prison, the Committee recommends that an assessment of the health care service be carried out immediately.
129. The delegation received many complaints from prisoners about access to health care services and on the quality of the care received, particularly at Amfissa, Korydallos Men’s and Patras Prisons. Particular concerns were also raised about effective access to emergency medical services at night, when staffing complements were even lower than during the day and prison staff were apparently reluctant to open cell/dormitory doors; that is, on those occasions when the calls for assistance were actually heard by staff.
In none of the prisons visited were there clearly defined criteria for assessing the quality of care provided (such as waiting times to see a doctor, dentist or psychiatrist; availability of required medication; confidentiality of medical consultations and records; etc.). In the course of the visit, several cases of alleged negligence or delay in the treatment of prisoners were brought to the attention of the delegation.
For example, in one case concerning Amfissa Prison, an inmate in his mid-50s had been taken to the local hospital on two consecutive days in early August 2009 after complaining about abdominal pains. Thereafter, he spent one week in the prison, apparently in considerable pain, until he was transferred to St Paul’s Hospital in Athens where he died of septicemia. The paucity of records at Amfissa Prison meant that it was not possible to establish whether the prisoner had been examined by a doctor in the week preceding his transfer to Athens or whether there had been any delay in treating this prisoner. The Committee would appreciate receiving the comments of the authorities on this case.
In a second case concerning Korydallos Men’s Prison, a man whom the CPT’s delegation had accompanied to hospital in September 2008 and who had been told he should see a surgeon about his scrotal hernia, was again in severe discomfort when met by the delegation in the course of the 2009 visit. An ultra-sound, confirming the presence of the hernia, had been carried out in February 2009 but no action had been taken to refer this man to a surgeon. By letter of 23 November 2009, the Greek authorities informed the Committee that the General State Hospital of Nikaia “Agios Panteleimonas” had recommended that the prisoner be admitted to hospital as soon as a bed became available in order for the scrotal hernia to be surgically removed. The Committee would like to be informed when the operation was carried out.
Further, the delegation observed that prison officers in Korydallos Men’s Prison, as well as in other establishments, continued to perform triage functions, for which they are not qualified; the authorities should remind prison officers not to screen requests to consult a doctor.
130. In all prisons, inmates were to varying degrees working in the health care services. In the CPT’s view, prisoners should never carry out triage functions, distribute medication, be present during consultations, have access to medical records or deliver care to other prisoners. The CPT recommends that the necessary steps be taken to replace prisoners performing such nursing duties with qualified health care staff. Further, in view of the fact that many of the prison staff performing nursing duties did not possess the necessary qualifications, the CPT considers that a qualified nurse should be considered as someone who has completed four years of training.
131. The findings of the delegation in the course of the visit highlighted, once again, the fact that in all the establishments visited, apart from Thessaloniki Prison, there was a lack of coordination and consultation among the various medical staff. It was particularly evident that visiting psychiatrists were not engaging with the wider primary health care team. The smooth operation of a health care service presupposes that doctors and nursing staff are able to meet regularly and to form a working team under the authority of a senior doctor in charge of the service. The CPT recommends that in each prison a senior doctor be appointed as the head of health care, with responsibility for managing the health care service and ensuring there is a regular consultation process among the staff.
132. In the course of the visit, the CPT’s delegation met a number of recently graduated doctors who were carrying out their residencies as prison doctors. These doctors were carrying out their functions despite having had no prior experience or training on working in a prison setting, nor did they have any reference to doctors in other prisons or receive any supervision from more experienced colleagues. The fact that they were employed directly by the Ministry of Health and were linked to a hospital in the community was positive. Nevertheless, steps should be taken to develop a coherent health care service for prisons with best practice from one prison being replicated across the prison service, and prison health care staff being provided with the appropriate training and support by the Ministry of Health. The CPT recommends that the Greek authorities take the necessary steps to provide appropriate training and support to doctors working in prisons, in light of the above remarks.
133. Finally, the CPT was concerned to learn that the full-time dentist at Korydallos Women’s Remand Prison was unable to undertake even the most basic of procedures, including extractions or fillings, because the prison authorities would not provide funding for the sterilisation of the dental equipment. The CPT recommends that immediate action be taken to ensure that the necessary sterilisation is provided for.
134. The CPT is obliged to reiterate the importance of medical screening of prisoners on admission - especially at establishments which represent points of entry into the prison system. Such screening is indispensable, in particular in the interests of identifying those at risk of self harm, screening for communicable diseases and the timely recording of any injuries.
In only one of the eight prisons visited (i.e. Thessaloniki Prison) was the medical screening systematically carried out on prisoners on the day of, or day after, their arrival. Many prisoners had not seen a doctor at all while others had had to wait for periods of a week or more, or until they were forced to see the doctor because their symptoms had become severe. Medical and nursing staff at Korydallos Men’s Prison confirmed this state of affairs. Further, in most of the prisons the initial medical examination consisted merely of a few questions; only at Thessaloniki Prison could it be considered as comprehensive. The assertion by the Ministry of Justice, in their response of 25 November 2009 to the delegation’s preliminary observations, that the doctor examines every inmate “no later than the day after admission”, is patently not accurate. Once again, the provision in the legislation does not accord with the real situation on the ground.
The CPT calls upon the Greek authorities to ensure that every newly-arrived prisoner is properly interviewed and physically examined as appropriate by a medical doctor as soon as possible after his admission. Save for exceptional circumstances, that interview should be carried out on the day of admission, especially insofar as remand establishments are concerned. Such initial medical screening on admission could also be performed by a fully qualified nurse reporting to a doctor.
135. The CPT has stressed in the past that the prison health care service should ensure that educational information about transmissible diseases (in particular hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, dermatological infestations) is regularly circulated, both to prisoners and to prison staff. However, there was still no specific training for the staff nor provision of information to the prisoners on this issue, in the prisons visited. The Committee considers that prison staff should be provided with ongoing training in the preventive measures to be taken and the attitudes to be adopted regarding HIV-positivity, and given appropriate instructions concerning non-discrimination and confidentiality.
For example, in Korydallos Women’s Remand Prison, remarks by prison officers made to the delegation’s doctors in relation to a HIV-positive prisoner illustrated a lack of understanding about the disease and a disregard for confidentiality.
The CPT reiterates its recommendation that the Greek authorities institute a health information programme in all prisons about transmissible diseases, and that prison staff be given specific training on the issue of transmissible diseases.
136. In the course of the visit, the CPT’s delegation found several cases of prisoners with transmissible diseases who were not receiving appropriate treatment.
One case concerns a man who had been discharged from Korydallos Prison Hospital to the Men’s Remand Prison on 2 June 2009, with a diagnosis of acute Hepatitis B infection and chronic Hepatitis C infection. The discharge letter recommended that tests of his liver function and viral load should be repeated. However, he had missed his appointment in the health care centre on 22 June 2009, and no steps had been taken to request him to attend for follow-up of these blood tests. This lack of action is extremely worrying, both for the prisoner himself and for the wider health interests of the prison as a whole.
The CPT recommends that the health care centre at Korydallos Prison establish a clear procedure for following up on cases. Further, it would like to receive information on what action was subsequently taken in the above-mentioned case.
137. A second case concerns a woman with HIV who had been transferred from Thiva Prison to Korydallos Women’s Prison on 3 September 2009. A week later she started taking anti-retroviral drugs. In the course of September she was twice transferred to hospital on account of high temperature and vomiting, and the hospital had given instructions that she should be seen by a doctor with a view to readmission to hospital should these symptoms reappear. Regrettably, it would appear that despite her having a very low number of white blood cells, which caused her to be at risk of a serious infection, frequent vomiting and associated loss of weight in the 10 days prior to the delegation’s visit, she was not provided with the appropriate care. She was not weighed and there was no record of her temperature having been taken. Further, it was evident that no one was taking responsibility for the oversight of this woman’s care; her medical records attested to this state of affairs.
The delegation asked for this woman to be transferred to hospital because her most basic health needs could not be met at Korydallos Women’s Prison, insofar as there was no resident doctor overseeing her care and no qualified nurses. Further, the conditions of detention in the isolation unit, where she was accommodated, were totally unsuitable for her needs. However, it would appear that this woman continued to be held in Korydallos Women’s Prison without the appropriate arrangements made for her to receive the necessary nursing and medical care that her condition required. More specifically, despite a recommendation by the hospital on 28 September 2009 for her to undergo a gastroscopy, this had still not occurred by early November; this is an unacceptable delay for a person with advanced HIV and frequent vomiting.
In the context of the good care provided to male HIV patients in Korydallos Prison Hospital, the CPT recommends that the Greek authorities establish a clear protocol for treating women patients in an advanced state of HIV, addressing issues of medical and nursing care, conditions of detention and confidentiality.
Further, in the light of the information provided by the authorities to the CPT, the Committee would like to be informed whether the above-mentioned prisoner has now been released on compassionate grounds or whether she is still being detained; in the latter case, the Committee wishes to receive a detailed account of the care being afforded to her.
138. There was still no coherent and comprehensive drugs policy in place. Drugs appeared to be accessible in all the prisons visited and many prisoners admitted openly to using them. The comments made in the reports on the 2001 and 2005 visits remain pertinent.
No studies have been undertaken to analyse the extent of drug misuse in Greek prisons, and at least one prison director met by the CPT’s delegation refused to accept that drugs were prevalent within his large prison, despite clear evidence to the contrary. The predominant approach remained that of attempting to combat drugs abuse through security measures – controls at the stage of entry into prison and a limited number of targeted urine tests. The prisons visited had no substitute providing programmes in place nor were any counselling programmes in evidence, or any other incentives for prisoners to stop using drugs. All prisons should have in place effective drug detoxification regimes for persons suffering from drug withdrawal upon entry to prison. Drug free wings were not promoted, and access to the Elaion detoxification centre remained theoretical for most prisoners given the criteria required for admission and its operational capacity of 50 places.
139. The CPT recognises that providing support to persons who have drug-related problems is far from straightforward, particularly in a prison setting. The assistance offered to such persons should be varied; detoxification programmes with substitution programmes for drug-dependent patients should be combined with genuine psycho-social and educational programmes. The setting up of a drug-free wing in prisons for certain categories of prisoners, inter alia those having completed treatment programmes prior to or during imprisonment, might also be considered.
Further, all health-care staff and, more generally, prison officers should be given specific training on drug-related issues. Further, effective throughcare in partnership with community-based drug-related agencies should be put in place. In this respect, the programmes run by the Centre for the Treatment of Drug-dependent persons (KETHEA) in prisons should be expanded.
In short, the approach towards substance misuse in prison should be part of a national drugs strategy, and should have as its goals, inter alia: eliminating the supply of drugs into prisons; dealing with drug abuse through identifying and engaging drug misusers, providing them with treatment options and ensuring there is appropriate throughcare; developing standards, monitoring and research on drug issues; and the provision of staff training and development.
In the light of the above remarks, the CPT calls upon the Greek authorities to draw up a comprehensive strategy for the provision of assistance to prisoners with drug-related problems, as one aspect of a national drugs strategy.
140. At Korydallos Men’s Prison, the delegation learned about two recent deaths in custody. In one case, the prisoner who had apparently been found dead in his cell at 12h20 on 9 September 2009 had been seen by the psychiatrist many times, including the day before his death, and was believed to be suffering from a “psychopathic disorder together with depression”. The other case concerned a man who had been transferred to hospital with severe chest pain on 26 September 2009; at the time of his emergency transfer at 23h50 there was no duty doctor available in the prison.
The Committee is concerned that, in the wake of serious incidents such as a death, no action or inquiry is undertaken aimed at establishing the cause of death and at identifying possible means to improve the system of prevention in place.
The CPT recommends that the authorities institute a practice of carrying out thorough inquiries into deaths in custody with a view to learning lessons and improving operating procedures within the prisons. Further, such inquiries are necessary in order to provide the relatives of the deceased person(s) with relevant information concerning the circumstances of the death.
The Committee would like to receive, in due course, the outcome of any inquiries (including the autopsy reports) into the deaths mentioned above, as well as into the death of a prisoner from Amfissa Prison (see paragraph 129 above).
141. In addition to medical screening on arrival, the reception and first night procedures as a whole have an important role to play; performed properly, they can identify at least certain of those at risk of self-harm and relieve some of the anxiety experienced by all newly-arrived prisoners. Regrettably, in none of the prisons visited was there any rigorous admission procedures whereby all new prisoners would undergo a cell-share risk assessment (conducted with care and professionalism) before being allocated to a cell and provided with toiletries, bedding and a hot meal. Indeed, upon allocation to a particular prison, inmates are effectively placed wherever there is a spare bed or along broad categories such as Greek/foreign national prisoners or workers. Nor was there any induction programme to acquaint prisoners with the regime and running of the prison, or to ensure that they had been able to contact their family. The Committee considers that such basic procedures on admission are vital in assisting inmates entering the criminal justice system to adjust to prison life.
The CPT recommends that the Greek authorities introduce proper reception and first night procedures as well as an induction process for all prisoners being admitted to a prison, with a priority placed on those establishments which are points of entry to the prison system.
142. The CPT attaches considerable importance to the maintenance of good contact with the outside world for all persons deprived of their liberty. The guiding principle should be to promote contact with the outside world as far as possible; any restrictions on such contacts should be based exclusively on security concerns of an appreciable nature.
The importance of prisoners being able to maintain good contact with the outside world is recognised in the Prison Law of 1999 (see Articles 51 to 58), and the necessity to promote such contacts has been stressed in previous CPT reports. However, little action appears to have been taken to implement the Committee’s recommendations in this area.
Although the practice as regards access to the telephone and correspondence can be considered as satisfactory, there has been no improvement in the situation as regards visits. The general rule remains a weekly visit of 30 minutes or less under closed conditions (i.e. allowing no physical contact between the prisoner and the visitor). Further, the rooms used for visits are for the most part unsuitable.
143. For example, at Patras Prison, the visits room is divided down its length by a floor to ceiling partition, the top half of which is a Perspex screen. Up to 15 prisoners were placed shoulder to shoulder on one side of this partition communicating with two or three visitors each on the other side via several small pierced holes in the screen; the resulting cacophony of sound can easily be imagined. The few “open” visits took place in the main entrance of the prison administration building, thus ensuring no privacy; moreover, the prisoner and his visitors remained separated by a glass partition running down the middle of the table.
The visiting facilities at Malandrino Prison were equally unconducive to promoting contact with the outside world, consisting of two inhospitable rooms, one with a row of closed visit booths and the other with a single long, partitioned, table for open visits.
At Thiva Prison, the visiting facilities were, like the rest of the prison, bleak and functional: closed visits took place in a room with 23 glass booths with a telephone for communication; and open visits were in a room usually used for legal conferences, a place that could not be less child centred or family oriented. Open visits could be granted upon request and generally were for women with children below 16 years of age. However, women inmates met by the delegation stated that the trauma of an open visit was so great that they dreaded having to subject themselves or their children to such procedures again; the children were searched before and after the visit while the mother (inmate) was strip searched both before and after the visit (a Roma inmate said that she had also been subjected to a cavity search). Further, during the visits, mother and child were only allowed to hold hands by way of physical contact (to embrace or kiss the child was prohibited). Such an approach to open visits certainly does not promote family ties and appears unjustified in view of the search procedures in place.
144. The CPT calls upon the Greek authorities to review the arrangements for visits, with a view to:
- increasing the amount of visiting time offered, preferably to at least one hour every week;
- allowing ordinary visits to take place under less restrictive conditions. The use of closed booth-type facilities should be the exception rather than the rule;
- ensuring that security arrangements for open visits are individually risk-assessed;
- allowing prisoners meeting their children for an open visit to fully express their feelings physically, should they so desire, especially in Thiva Prison.
145. The CPT has recommended in the past that the Greek authorities devise special rules for visits to prisoners held in difficult-to-access establishments, but no action has been taken on this issue to date. In 2009, the CPT’s delegation visited Chios and Malandrino Prisons and, not surprisingly, their geographical isolation resulted in the fact that few prisoners received visits.
Moreover, many prisoners find themselves serving their sentences a long way from their families, as the Greek prison service does not allocate prisoners to an establishment close to their home or place of social rehabilitation (as provided for in Rule 17 of the 2006 revised European Prison Rules). In such circumstances, the provision of 30 minutes of visit time per week is somewhat meaningless; instead, prisoners should be allowed to accumulate any unused visiting periods in order to promote meaningful contact between an inmate and his/her family and to justify the long journeys travelled by visitors. The authorities should also look into possible forms of assistance to enable families of such prisoners to make use of the visiting possibilities.
The CPT recommends that the Greek authorities draw up special visiting arrangements both for difficult-to-access prisons and for those prisoners serving their sentence in an establishment far from their home, which should address inter alia the accumulation of visiting time and possible forms of assistance to visitors.
146. Articles 54 to 56 of the 1999 Prison Law regulate the possibility of prisoners to be granted home leave for periods of one to five days every two months, not exceeding 40 days per calendar year. Prisoners must serve one-fifth of their sentence before they may apply to the Prison (Disciplinary) Council, composed of the Prison Director, the prosecutor responsible for the prison and a prison social worker. According to the Law, the Prison Council will assess the prisoner’s personality and behaviour in prison as well as his family and social status, and whether the home leave might be beneficial for his reintegration into society.
In all the prisons visited, inmates were vociferous in their complaints about the home leave system, primarily because the whole process appeared to them neither transparent nor objective. This was particularly the case in Patras Prison, where the standard response to most applications for home leave was “does not provide sufficient guarantees for his behaviour”, no specific reasons being provided. It was also evident that the lack of social workers in each prison meant that it was not possible to fully analyse the family arrangements of each applicant. Further, any evaluation of their behaviour in prison was somewhat superficial given that there was no daily interaction between staff and prisoners.
The attraction of home leave to prisoners cannot be understated. Most inmates met by the CPT’s delegation made it clear that the prospect of home leave was a major incentive for good behaviour. Indeed, home leave is currently an important factor in the maintenance of order within Greek prisons. However, the perceived lack of transparency in the decision-making process of Prison Councils and the absence of written reasons provided to inmates – in Thiva Prison there was a general policy not to provide inmates with any written communication at all – undermined prisoners’ confidence in the system. Further, foreign national prisoners complained that they were excluded from applying for home leave even if they and their family had been resident in Greece for many years.
The CPT recommends that prisons be granted the necessary resources to ensure that applications for home leave are evaluated in a rigorous manner. Further, inmates should be fully aware of the criteria for which home leave may be granted and receive a decision on their application in writing, giving specific reasons in the event of rejection.
The CPT also invites the Greek authorities to consider extending the home leave system to all foreign nationals who have resident status in Greece.
147. In most of the prisons visited there was limited resort to the use of segregation for disciplinary reasons.
148. As to the material conditions in the segregation units visited, in Chios Prison, the single isolation cell had been refurbished since 2005 but the lighting remained poor and the toilet area was filthy. The CPT recommends that these deficiencies be remedied.
In Malandrino Prison the ten-cell segregation unit was apparently no longer used as the prison management was of the view that it did not provide adequate conditions for holding prisoners. An examination of the premises by the delegation confirmed their dilapidated state. The CPT recommends that the segregation cells in Malandrino Prison be renovated before they are brought back into service.
In Patras Prison, the segregation unit consisted of two cages of some 6m˛ each and seven small cells, none of which was more than 2.2m˛. The size of these cells was totally unacceptable for holding prisoners overnight and the delegation made an immediate observation at the end of the visit requesting that these cells be taken out of service. By letter of 23 February 2010, the Greek authorities informed the Committee that the segregation area was being renovated and that seven cells with adjoining exercise yards would be constructed. The CPT would like to receive precise information on the size of the cells in the renovated segregation unit.
In Thiva Prison, the segregation unit consisted of seven cells, each of which contained a bunk-bed, a table and a chair; the cells were well lit and adequately ventilated. However, they were dirty as were the sinks in the adjacent washroom. A second isolation area contained, inter alia, a box-like cell of some 9m˛, with no access to natural light, which was apparently intended to accommodate women who had self-harmed or who were thought to have a mental disorder. In the CPT’s view, such women should not be placed in isolation: they should rather be treated as patients and afforded appropriate medical care. The CPT recommends that the Greek authorities take the necessary steps, in the light of the above remarks.
In Thessaloniki Prison, the two-cell female disciplinary unit provided acceptable conditions, with good access to natural light and ventilation. The male segregation unit consisted of seven cells with similar conditions to that in the female unit; however, there was limited access to natural light.
The cells in the segregation unit of Korydallos Women’s Remand Prison were furnished with a bed, table and chair: they had access to natural light and the ventilation was adequate. There was also a sink and toilet; however, they were in the direct line of sight of prison officers checking on an inmate through the spy hole. The absence of any hot water was also problematic; for example, a prisoner who had been held in the segregation unit for two months as a protective measure had to wash her clothes and bedding in cold water, and had to go to another section of the prison to take a shower several times a week. Steps should be taken to install a modesty screen for the toilet and any prisoner held in the unit for a prolonged period should be provided with hot water.
149. It transpired that in several of the establishments visited, such as Chios, Korydallos Women’s, Thessaloniki and Patras, prisoners placed in segregation units were deprived of access to outdoor exercise.
Further, the woman held in the segregation unit of Korydallos Women’s Prison as a protective measure was confined to her cell and the corridor and had not been allowed any structured activities (or even outdoor exercise).
The CPT recommends that all prisoners held in segregation units, including those undergoing a disciplinary punishment, are offered at least one hour of outdoor exercise every day. Further, prisoners held for a prolonged period in a segregation unit for non-disciplinary reasons should be offered activities of a structured and meaningful nature; under no circumstances should they be deprived of all human contact.
150. In all the prisons visited, inmates complained that they had not received any information about the regulations governing the day-to-day activities and procedures in the prison. Instead, they had to rely on other prisoners to tell them about the regime and the rules, which placed certain prisoners in a superior position. Further, for foreign national prisoners who did not speak Greek the lack of information in a language they could not understand placed them in a particularly vulnerable position, as members of the delegation observed in the course of the visit.
As the CPT has emphasised in the past, the House Rules for each prison should be published and distributed to all prisoners who enter the establishment. Further, notices should be posted each time there are amendments to such rules as well as to highlight important aspects of the rights and duties of prisoners. Information should also be displayed concerning the regime and opportunities for sport, recreational, cultural and educational activities. It is equally essential that this information be made available to foreign national prisoners in a language they understand, as is laid down in Article 24 of the 1999 Prison Law. The publication of an information brochure on life in prison, which could be translated into the most frequently found languages in the prison system, would, for example, be of benefit to many prisoners. Communication between the prison authorities and the prisoners is an essential component of a well-functioning establishment. By letter of 23 February 2010, the Greek authorities informed the CPT that they planned to draw up a special leaflet for all prisoners in a range of languages.
The CPT recommends that all newly-admitted prisoners be supplied with information on the regime in force in the establishment and on their rights and duties, in a language which they understand; such information should be provided both orally by the prison administration and in the form of a brochure systematically given to prisoners on their arrival and available in an appropriate range of languages. Copies of the Prison Law and House Rules should also be readily available for consultation by prisoners.
151. At Thiva Prison, there is a policy in place of not providing any information in writing to inmates, ostensibly as a security measure. This meant that prisoners had no written information about the regime of the prison, and were not even provided with copies of disciplinary decisions that concerned them. The CPT recommends that this policy be reviewed, and that the prison authorities make a determined effort to communicate more with inmates.
152. The CPT remains of the view that the supervision exercised by the Monitoring and Control Body (internal prison inspectorate), which reports directly to the Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice and whose reports are not made public, should be supplemented by that of other bodies. In this respect, the CPT was pleased to learn that the Ombudsman’s Office, together with the All-Party Parliamentary Committee for the penitentiary system, has now been granted official authorisation under Law 3772 of 10 July 2009 to visit detention facilities.
153. Many inmates made complaints about the conditions in which they were transported between prisons; for example, during the nine hour journey between Korydallos Prison in Athens and Thessaloniki Prison, male and female prisoners alleged that they were not provided with water or food, and had to comply with the needs of nature by using a plastic bottle, in full view of each other. Such a practice, if true, is not acceptable.
The Committee also has concerns about the manner in which inmates are transferred to hospital from prison – handcuffed behind their backs and often seated on benches along which they apparently slide whenever the vehicle turns. Handcuffing persons behind their backs during transportation is dangerous and its routine use should be ended.
The CPT reiterates its recommendation that the conditions under which prisoner transport takes place be reviewed.
Law enforcement agencies
Torture and other forms of ill-treatment
- the Greek authorities to draw up a comprehensive protocol regulating deportations, in particular as regards the use of coercive measures (paragraph 21);
- police officers to be reminded that effective action must be taken when any information indicative of possible ill-treatment comes to light (paragraph 24);
- the Greek authorities to fundamentally review the manner in which allegations of ill-treatment by police officers are reported and recorded (paragraph 31).
requests for information
- the different steps taken to investigate the allegations of ill-treatment referred to in paragraph 18 (cases 1 and 2) as well as information about the outcome of both the administrative and criminal investigations into these allegations (paragraph 19);
- up-to-date information on action taken following a complaint made to the Head of the Alexandroupoli Police concerning an allegation of ill-treatment at the Feres Border Guard Station (paragraph 20);
- the action taken by the Greek authorities in respect of the apparent breach of law by the Thessaloniki police officer referred to in paragraph 23 (paragraph 24);
- up-to-date information on the investigation into the case of alleged ill-treatment of a foreign national detained in Omonia Police Station in Athens, highlighted in the report on the CPT’s 2008 visit to Greece (paragraph 25);
- detailed information on the competencies, powers and staffing of the Arbitrary Incidents Office as well as on its organisational position within the Ministry of Citizens Protection (paragraph 31).
Safeguards against the ill-treatment of detained persons
- the Greek authorities to take immediate steps to ensure that all persons deprived of their liberty by law enforcement officials have effective access to a lawyer, as from the very outset of their deprivation of liberty, and the Greek Bar Association to be consulted in this context (paragraph 34);
- the Greek authorities to review the existing arrangements concerning the organisation of health care for persons held in police stations, in the light of the remarks made in paragraph 35 (paragraph 35);
- steps to be taken to ensure proper care for persons with mental health problems detained by the police (paragraph 36);
- the Greek authorities to take immediate steps to ensure that persons deprived of their liberty by law enforcement officials have an effective right to notify a close relative or third party of their choice of their situation, as from the very outset of their deprivation of liberty. Further, legal provisions should be adopted spelling out the circumstances when the exercise of the right to inform a third party of one’s custody can be delayed and making any such delay subject to appropriate safeguards (e.g. any delay to be recorded in writing along with the reason, and to require the approval of a prosecutor or judge) and strictly limited in time (paragraph 37);
- the information sheets detailing the rights of detained persons to be amended to include the right of access to a doctor, and the Greek authorities to ensure that forms setting out the rights of persons brought into police custody are systematically provided to such persons in the appropriate language at the very outset of their custody (paragraph 38);
- the Greek authorities to introduce an individualised custody record, in line with the criteria referred to in paragraph 40 (paragraph 40);
- the Greek authorities to establish an independent police inspectorate (paragraph 41);
- the Greek authorities to remind police officers that information on rights should be provided in a language that a detained irregular migrant understands (paragraph 43);
- the policy of systematically confiscating the mobile phones of detained irregular migrants to be reviewed. Further, persons without a mobile phone and with insufficient means should be offered a free phone call to inform a family member or third party of their situation (paragraph 44);
- the Greek authorities to introduce free legal aid for irregular migrants without undue delay (paragraph 45);
- the Greek authorities to take the necessary steps to ensure a daily nursing presence and regular visits by a doctor at Athens Airport Holding Areas (paragraph 46);
- all newly arrived detainees in police and border guard stations to be screened by a doctor (paragraph 47).
Conditions of detention in establishments under the Ministry of Interior
- every effort to be made to ensure that criminal suspects placed on remand are transferred to a prison without delay (paragraph 51);
- arrangements to be made for all persons detained for more than 24 hours in a police or border guard establishment to be offered daily outdoor exercise of at least one hour (paragraph 51);
- the Greek authorities to review conditions of detention in police and border guard stations, to ensure that:
· all detained persons have ready access to a proper toilet facility, including at night;
· female detainees are held in an area which is separated from that accommodating male detainees, and that their privacy is guaranteed;
· each detained person is provided with a clean mattress, clean bedding and a means of rest, such as a plinth or a bed;
· the provision of food for detained persons is adequate and appropriate;
· all detained persons staying longer than 24 hours are provided with a basic sanitary kit (including adequate rations of soap, washing powder, toilet paper, shampoo, shaving utensils and tooth paste, and a tooth brush) free of charge;
· all detained persons are provided with sufficient quantities of detergent to keep their cells clean;
· detention areas (including sanitary facilities) are maintained in an adequate state of repair and cleanliness;
· all detained persons have access to adequate lighting;
· all detained persons staying longer than 24 hours have access to a shower and to hot water;
· call bells are installed in all detention areas where staff are not continuously present
- the Greek authorities to give due consideration to the proposal to establish posts of specialised custodial staff for persons detained by law enforcement agencies (paragraph 59);
- the Greek authorities to issue guidelines to the police on care of children remaining in detention with a parent (paragraph 60);
- regarding the facilities for irregular migrants visited, the Greek authorities to ensure that:
· occupancy rates are respected, and if necessary revised, so as to offer a minimum of 4m˛ of space per detainee in multi-occupancy accommodation;
· all detainees are offered a bed or plinth, bedding and mattress, all clean;
· all detainees have ready access to toilet facilities, including at night;
· all detainees are offered at least one hour of outdoor exercise a day;
· regular maintenance work and disinfection is carried out and sufficient funding is made available to this end;
· sufficient quantities of detergent and products for personal hygiene are made available at all times to detainees
- the Greek authorities to take the necessary steps to draw up and implement, as soon as possible, operating standards for both the special facilities for irregular migrants and police holding facilities, guaranteeing, inter alia, a regime offering activities and recreation (paragraph 72);
- the Greek authorities to take adequate measures in order to ensure regular medical care is provided at all centres where illegal migrants are held (paragraph 73);
- new arrivals at the Athens Airport Holding Facilities to be screened for infectious diseases, including tuberculosis (paragraph 74);
- in all special detention facilities for irregular migrants and police holding facilities, medical examination upon arrival to be carried out, including screening for skin infections (paragraph 74);
- the Greek authorities to review the staff complement attached to each special facility for irregular migrants and police holding facility (paragraph 76);
- the Greek authorities to provide adequate training for staff working in special detention facilities for irregular migrants and police holding facilities (paragraph 76).
- the CPT trusts that the criteria for places of detention for irregular migrants, as formulated in the 7th General Report on the CPT’s Activities, will be taken into account in the design of the new building to replace the existing Piraeus facility (paragraph 69).
requests for information
- confirmation that police and border guard stations are no longer used to accommodate administratively detained irregular migrants (paragraph 51);
- confirmation that the Piraeus Holding Facility for Aliens has been definitely closed, as well as details on the capacity and layout of the facilities replacing both the Pagani and Piraeus centres (paragraph 71);
- comments of the Greek authorities on the issue raised in paragraph 77 (paragraph 77);
- comments of the Greek authorities on the issue raised in paragraph 78 (paragraph 78);
- comments of the Greek authorities on the issue raised in paragraph 79 (paragraph 79).
Conditions of detention in establishments under the Port Authorities
- anyone required by the Chios Port Authority to spend one night or longer in detention to be transferred to Chios Town Police Station (paragraph 81);
- every effort to be made to avoid large numbers of irregular migrants apprehended by the Coast Guard having to spend several days (Friday to Monday) in the pre-fabricated structure in the port of Chios (paragraph 81).
requests for information
- details about the design and capacity of the proposed new detention facility to be built in the Patras Port area (paragraph 85).
- the Greek authorities to pursue fresh approaches towards eradicating overcrowding as a chronic feature of the prison system, in the light of the remarks in paragraph 88 (paragraph 88);
- the Ministry of Justice, following a period of in-depth consultations with all interested parties, to produce a strategic plan for the recovery of the prison system that addresses the following areas:
· the mission of prisons and the values to which prison staff should work;
· the size of the prison estate and the range of the prison types that it will include;
· the range of activities that will be provided and the amount of access that persons detained, including those on remand, will have to them;
· the human resource requirement needed to run the prisons professionally, including competence profiles for the key roles;
· financial projections over a 5 to 10 year period, showing how the planned provision will be met within the resource levels available;
· clearly defined short, medium and long term goals
- the Greek authorities to remind prison officers, particularly at Thiva Prison, that verbal abuse and intimidation of prisoners is not acceptable and will be dealt with severely (paragraph 90);
- the Greek authorities to end the practice of routine vaginal examinations of female prisoners at Thiva Prison and Korydallos Women’s Remand Prison and ensure: that such examinations are only carried out when absolutely necessary; that each examination is properly recorded in a special register; that they are performed by a medical practitioner, who is not the treating doctor of the person concerned; and that they are carried out under conditions which respect physical safety and human dignity (paragraph 92);
- the Greek authorities to take due note of the remarks in paragraph 93 when considering alternatives to a vaginal search which is deemed absolutely necessary (paragraph 93);
- the practice of obliging women prisoners to take laxatives to be immediately ended (paragraph 93);
- any signs of injury to a newly-arrived prisoner as well as relevant statements by the person concerned and the doctor’s conclusions (including as to the degree of consistency between the prisoner’s statement and the injuries observed) to be duly recorded by the examining doctor (paragraph 94);
- procedures to be in place to ensure that whenever injuries are recorded which are consistent with allegations of ill-treatment made by the prisoner concerned (or which, even in the absence of an allegation, are clearly indicative of ill-treatment), the record is systematically brought to the attention of the competent prosecuting authorities. The results of the examination should also be made available to the prisoner concerned and his or her lawyer (paragraph 94);
- a special register for cases of injuries identified by the medical examination on admission to be introduced at each prison (paragraph 94);
- the Greek authorities to devise a national strategy concerning inter-prisoner violence and intimidation, taking into account the remarks in paragraph 96 (paragraph 96).
Conditions of detention
- the Greek authorities to:
· devise a phased programme to reduce the occupancy levels in Korydallos Men’s Prison from the current three or more prisoners per 9.5 m˛ cell to no more than two per cell;
· reduce the occupancy levels in the dormitories of Amfissa, Chios, Malandrino, Patras and Thessaloniki Prisons to ensure that each prisoner is provided with at least 4m˛ of living space;
· ensure that the 9m˛ cells in Korydallos Women's Prison in no cases accommodate more than two persons;
· improve the living conditions at Thiva Prison with a view to alleviating the warehouse environment;
· make concerted efforts to maintain the establishments visited in a good state of repair, including the call bell systems, and to ensure that the accommodation areas in all prisons are kept clean and basic hygiene levels are guaranteed;
· ensure that inmates in all prisons have access to hot water both for reasons of personal hygiene as well as for washing bedding, clothes and dishes, and that they are allocated lockable space for their personal belongings.
- the Greek authorities to devise means for improving substantially the programmes of activities on offer to inmates (both remand and sentenced) in all the prisons visited (paragraph 113);
- the Greeks authorities to take the necessary steps to expand the educational opportunities on offer to prisoners, in the light of the remarks made in paragraph 113 (paragraph 113);
- immediate steps to be taken to develop a suitable programme of activities for inmates serving long sentences at Malandrino, Patras and Thiva Prisons, taking into account the criteria identified in paragraph 114 (paragraph 114).
Female juvenile unit at Thiva Prison
- the Greek authorities to put in place a properly resourced facility or unit for female juvenile prisoners; the facility should have a child-centred approach, offer a purposeful regime and be staffed by a multi-disciplinary team of professionals (paragraph 117).
- the Greek authorities to carry out immediately a review of the current staffing levels in the prisons visited and, in the light of the review, make provision to recruit additional staff (paragraph 120);
- the Greek authorities to review the initial training programme for prison officers, in the light of the remarks in paragraph 122. Further, the follow-up training for all prison officers should be developed (paragraph 123).
- the Greek authorities are encouraged to develop a human resources policy which includes attracting prison staff from diverse backgrounds (paragraph 121);
- the Greek authorities are invited to reconsider the most effective deployment of the perimeter security staff and whether that staff’s specific guard functions, as opposed to their escort duties, might be largely replaced by electronic and camera surveillance (paragraph 123).
requests for information
- a copy of the comprehensive human resources policy for prison staff, which should comprise initial training, regular refresher and specialist courses and ongoing support (paragraph 123).
- the Greek authorities to urgently re-examine the general state of health care services in prison establishments. Improving health care in prison will necessitate, inter alia, the recruitment of additional qualified health care staff (paragraph 125);
- a detailed needs assessment to be carried out in respect of Korydallos Men’s Prison, to determine the establishment’s requirements in terms of health care staff (paragraph 126);
- as an initial measure, steps to be taken immediately to reinforce health care staffing levels in order to ensure:
· at Korydallos Women’s Remand Prison, the recruitment of a full-time general practitioner to oversee the delivery of health care services and of qualified nurses, one of whom should be a qualified mental health nurse;
· at Chios Prison, the recruitment of at least one qualified nurse;
· at Malandrino Prison, the recruitment of additional qualified nurses, one of whom should be a qualified mental health nurse, and the provision of specialist medical care on a regular basis, the most urgent need being for a psychiatrist and the equivalent of a full-time dentist;
· at Patras Prison, the recruitment of additional qualified nurses, one of whom should be a qualified mental health nurse, and the provision of a visiting psychiatrist;
· at Thessaloniki Prison, the recruitment of additional qualified nurses, one of whom should be a qualified mental health nurse;
· at Thiva Prison, the recruitment of the equivalent of a full-time general practitioner and the recruitment of additional qualified nurses, one of whom should be a qualified mental health nurse
- an assessment of the health care service at Amfissa Prison to be carried out immediately (paragraph 128);
- the authorities to remind prison officers not to screen requests to consult a doctor (paragraph 129);
- the necessary steps to be taken to replace prisoners performing nursing duties with qualified health care staff (paragraph 130);
- a senior doctor to be appointed in each prison as the head of health care, with responsibility for managing the health care service and ensuring there is a regular consultation process among the staff (paragraph 131);
- the Greek authorities to take the necessary steps to provide appropriate training and support to doctors working in prisons, in the light of the remarks in paragraph 132 (paragraph 132);
- immediate action to be taken to ensure that the necessary sterilisation of dental equipment is provided for at Korydallos Women’s Remand Prison (paragraph 133);
- the Greek authorities to ensure that every newly-arrived prisoner is properly interviewed and physically examined as appropriate by a medical doctor as soon as possible after his admission. Save for exceptional circumstances, that interview should be carried out on the day of admission, especially insofar as remand establishments are concerned. Such initial medical screening on admission could also be performed by a fully qualified nurse reporting to a doctor (paragraph 134);
- the Greek authorities to institute a health information programme in all prisons about transmissible diseases, and prison staff to be given specific training on the issue of transmissible diseases (paragraph 135);
- the health care centre at Korydallos Prison to establish a clear procedure for following up on cases (paragraph 136);
- the Greek authorities to establish a clear protocol for treating women patients in an advanced state of HIV, addressing issues of medical and nursing care, conditions of detention and confidentiality (paragraph 137);
- the Greeks authorities to draw up a comprehensive strategy for the provision of assistance to prisoners with drug-related problems, as one aspect of a national drugs strategy (paragraph 139);
- the authorities to institute a practice of carrying out thorough inquiries into deaths in custody with a view to learning lessons and improving operating procedures within the prisons (paragraph 140).
requests for information
- comments on the case of the death of an inmate of Amfissa Prison referred to in paragraph 129 (paragraph 129);
- when the surgical operation of an inmate at Korydallos Men’s Prison referred to in paragraph 129 was carried out (paragraph 129);
- action taken in the case of a man who had been discharged from Korydallos Prison Hospital to the Men’s Remand Prison on 2 June 2009, with a diagnosis of acute Hepatitis B infection and chronic Hepatitis C infection, and who had missed his follow-up medical appointment (paragraph 136);
- whether the woman with HIV referred to in paragraph 137, who had been transferred from Thiva Prison to Korydallos Women’s Prison on 3 September 2009, has been released on compassionate grounds or is still being detained; in the latter case, the Committee wishes to receive a detailed account of the care being afforded to her (paragraph 137);
- in due course, the outcome of any inquiries (including the autopsy reports) into the deaths of two inmates at Korydallos Men’s Prison referred to in paragraph 140, as well as into the death of a prisoner from Amfissa Prison referred to in paragraph 129 (paragraph 140).
- the Greek authorities to introduce proper reception and first night procedures as well as an induction process for all prisoners being admitted to a prison, with a priority placed on those establishments which are points of entry to the prison system (paragraph 141);
- the Greek authorities to review the arrangements for visits, with a view to:
· increasing the amount of visiting time offered, preferably to at least one hour every week;
· allowing ordinary visits to take place under less restrictive conditions. The use of closed booth-type facilities should be the exception rather than the rule;
· ensuring that security arrangements for open visits are individually risk-assessed;
· allowing prisoners meeting their children for an open visit to fully express their feelings physically, should they so desire, especially in Thiva Prison
- the Greek authorities to draw up special visiting arrangements both for difficult-to-access prisons and for those prisoners serving their sentence in an establishment far from their home, which should address inter alia the cumulation of visiting time and possible forms of assistance to visitors (paragraph 145);
- prisons to be granted the necessary resources to ensure that applications for home leave are evaluated in a rigorous manner. Further, inmates should be fully aware of the criteria for which home leave may be granted and receive a decision on their application in writing, giving specific reasons in the event of rejection (paragraph 146);
- the deficient lighting and the lack of cleanliness in the toilet in the isolation cell in Chios Prison to be remedied (paragraph 148);
- the segregation cells in Malandrino Prison to be renovated before they are brought back into service (paragraph 148);
- the Greek authorities to take the necessary steps to ensure that women who self-harm or who are thought to have a mental disorder are not placed in isolation but instead are treated as patients and given appropriate medical care (paragraph 148);
- steps to be taken in the segregation unit of Korydallos Women’s Remand Prison to install a modesty screen for the in-cell toilets and any prisoner held in the unit for a prolonged period to be provided with hot water (paragraph 148);
- all prisoners held in segregation units, including those undergoing a disciplinary punishment, to be offered at least one hour of outdoor exercise every day. Further, prisoners held for a prolonged period in a segregation unit for non-disciplinary reasons to be offered activities of a structured and meaningful nature; under no circumstances should they be deprived of all human contact (paragraph 149);
- all newly-admitted prisoners to be supplied with information on the regime in force in the establishment and on their rights and duties, in a language which they understand; such information should be provided both orally by the prison administration and in the form of a brochure systematically given to prisoners on their arrival and available in an appropriate range of languages. Copies of the Prison Law and House Rules should also be readily available for consultation by prisoners (paragraph 150);
- the policy in place at Thiva Prison of not providing any information in writing to inmates to be reviewed, and the prison authorities to make a determined effort to communicate more with inmates (paragraph 151);
- the conditions under which prisoner transport takes place to be reviewed (paragraph 153).
- the Greek authorities are invited to consider extending the home leave system to all foreign nationals who have resident status in Greece (paragraph 146);
- in the segregation unit of Thiva Prison, the cells as well as the sinks in the adjacent washroom were dirty (paragraph 148);
- there was limited access to natural light in the cells of the segregation unit for male prisoners at Thessaloniki Prison (paragraph 148).
requests for information
- the size of the cells in the renovated segregation unit in Patras Prison (paragraph 148).
A. National authorities
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Louis-Alkiviadis ABATIS Minister Plenipotentiary, Director, OSCE and Council of Europe Directorate
Despina FRANGOULOPOULOU Head of Council of Europe Department, OSCE and Council of Europe Directorate (CPT Liaison Officer)
Theofilos ZAFEIRAKOS First Political Secretary, OSCE and Council of Europe Directorate (CPT Liaison Officer)
Ministry of Justice
Athanasios ANDREOULAKOS Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice
Christina PETROU Head of Penitentiary Policy
Eirini KOUZELI Head of the Division for Adult Penitentiary Treatment
Glikeria MAUROMATI Head of the department for detention conditions
Vasiliki ARVANITOPOULOU Head of Human Resources
Eftichia KATSIGARAKI Head of the department for juvenile justice, crime prevention and social inclusion (CPT Liaison Officer)
Ioannis TENTES Chief Prosecutor of the Court of Cassation
Ministry of Interior
Evangelos KARIOFILLAKIS Lieutenant-Colonel, Public Security Division (CPT Liaison Officer)
Office of the Ombudsman
Giorgos KAMINIS Ombudsman
Andreas TAKIS Deputy Ombudsman
B. International organisations
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ Office in Greece
C. Non-governmental Organisations
The Greek National Commission for Human Rights
Greek Helsinki Monitor
Médecins sans Frontičres
 See paragraphs 11 and 85.
 Article 10, paragraph 2, reads as follows: “If the Party fails to co-operate or refuses to improve the situation in the light of the Committee's recommendations, the Committee may decide, after the Party has had an opportunity to make known its views, by a majority of two-thirds of its members to make a public statement on the matter.”
 Article 8, paragraph 5, reads as follows: “If necessary, the Committee may immediately communicate observations to the competent authorities of the Party concerned.”
 The following places were visited for the first time by a CPT delegation: the police and border guard stations of Kavala, Neo Karvali, Patras (Emrou Street, Gounari Street, Panepistimou Street and Mavromateon Street) Piraeus Moschatou, Serres, Siderokastro and Thessaloniki Dodecanesis Street, as well as the Thessaloniki Airport Holding facilities and the Police Transfer Centres in Amfissa and Patras.
 The detention of a criminal suspect on the sole authority of law enforcement officials may last for a maximum of 24 hours. During this initial period, a public prosecutor may confirm the detention and refer the case to the competent judge; in general, detained persons are brought before the prosecutor prior to such a decision being taken. Within three days thereafter, the suspect must be brought before the competent judge who must, within a further two days, release the person or remand him in prison. In consequence, a criminal suspect may remain in the custody of a law enforcement agency for a maximum of six days following arrest. These rules apply equally to other agencies, such as the Coast Guard and Customs authority, to the extent that they exercise law enforcement powers involving the possibility of depriving persons of their liberty.
 Law 3772/2009 (published on 10 July 2009).
 Article 83 (1) of the 2005 Aliens Law.
 In 2008, the border guards were integrated into the Greek Police and any reference in the report to “police officers” should be read to encompass border guards unless otherwise stated.
 See CPT/Inf (2008) 3, paragraph 12.
 Response of the Greek authorities of 23 November 2009 to the preliminary observations made by the CPT’s delegation at the end of the 2009 visit.
* In accordance with Article 11, paragraph 3, of the Convention, this name has been deleted.
 The issue of ill-treatment in the context of deportations was raised by the CPT in the report on its 2007 visit to Greece (see CPT/Inf (2008) 3, paragraph 14).
 See CPT/ Inf (2003) 23, paragraphs 27 to 45 (“deportation of foreign nationals by air”).
 See CPT/ Inf (2009) 20, paragraphs 13 and 14.
 See, for instance, CPT/ Inf (2006) 41, paragraphs 53 to 56; CPT/ Inf (2008) 3, paragraph 20; CPT/ Inf (2009) 20, paragraph 14.
 See, for instance, CPT/Inf (2008) 3, paragraphs 12 and 15; CPT Inf (2009) 20, paragraphs 15.
 See, for instance, Greek Ombudsman, 2006 Annual Report, page 12 and Greek Ombudsman, 2007 Annual Report, page 12.
 For instance, see:
- Makaratzis v. Greece (2004), where the Court found that the Greek Police had not carried out a proper investigation into the basic facts of the incident;
- Celniku v Greece (2007), where the Court criticised the fact that an investigation into allegations of ill-treatment was carried out by officers working in the same department as the incriminated officers;
- Zelilof v Greece (2007), where the Court questioned the quality and impartiality of the internal investigations carried out by the Thessaloniki Internal Investigations Department after a citizen was injured by police bullets: the internal police investigation relied on the statements made by the incriminated officers and the results of a forensic medical investigation were not taken into account;
- Alsayed Allaham v Greece (2007), where the Court found that an ill-treatment complaint made by a citizen against the police had not been properly investigated by the Prosecutor and Court;
- Petropoulu-Tsakiris v Greece (2008), where the Court found that no forensic-medical investigation had been carried out into the injuries of the complainant and that the internal investigation had not been carried out promptly (that is, 10 months after the complaint had been lodged).
 See CPT/ Inf (2008) 3, paragraph 3.
 See Article 23 (2) and (3), Decree on Police Discipline.
 See CPT/Inf (2009) 20, paragraph 12.
 See Istanbul Protocol, paragraph 79.
 Article 10 (1) c, Decree on Police Discipline.
 Article 23 (2) and (3), Decree on Police Discipline.
 Article 24 (2) and (3), Decree on Police Discipline.
 According to the Greek authorities, Article 243 of the Criminal Procedure Code imposes an obligation on the police force to report all allegations of ill-treatment by police officers to the public prosecutor. However, Article 243 of the Criminal Procedure Code concerns the authority of the Greek police to initiate a criminal investigation without the prior consent of the public prosecutor either in the event of an offender having been caught in the act, or in the presence of direct risk or danger.
 Article 26 (1) and (2) and Article 32, Decree on Police Discipline.
 Article 26 (3), Decree on Police Discipline. In practice, such investigations into allegations of police ill-treatment in the Attica and Thessaloniki regions, are being carried out by the Sub-Directorates of Administrative Investigations. For the other regions, the administrative investigation is assigned to police officers of a different Police Region.
 See Article 96 (1) Code of Criminal Procedure.
 See Articles 100, 104 (1) and 105 Code of Criminal Procedure.
 At Omonia Police Station, in the course of six months there had been no visit from a doctor, despite several referrals to a hospital. A similar situation was found at Amfissa Police Transfer Centre.
 The woman referred to in case 2, paragraph 18 asked to be seen by a doctor, but her request was refused.
 See the response of the Greek authorities of 23 November 2009 to the preliminary observations made by the CPT’s delegation at the end of the 2009 visit.
 See CPT/ Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 38.
 This was corroborated by both the administrative and medical records which the medical members of the CPT’s delegation consulted at Serres Hospital and by two persons who had been detained at Serres Police Station at the same time as the Romanian national.
 See for instance CPT/Inf (2002) 31, paragraph 22; CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 21; CPT/ Inf (2008) 3, paragraph 44.
 See for instance CPT/Inf (2002) 32, page 16; CPT/Inf (2008) 3, paragraph 44.
 See also CPT/Inf (2009) 20, paragraph 21.
 See paragraph 36 above.
 By letter of the Greek authorities of 23 November 2009, the Greek authorities informed the CPT that the Piraeus Holding Centre for Aliens will be demolished and that a new structure will be built in early 2010.
 Following the CPT’s visit of September 2009, a new Ministry of Citizen Protection was established, with responsibility for the police, coast guard and fire brigade. The Ministry of Interior remains responsible for the management of the special detention facilities for irregular migrants.
 See for instance CPT/ Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 31; CPT/ Inf (2008) 3, paragraph 21; CPT/ Inf (2009) 20, paragraph 34.
 Apparently, the new Mytilini Police Headquarters has also not been equipped with a yard for outdoor exercise.
 See CPT/ Inf (2008) 20, paragraph 35.
 See for instance CPT/ Inf (2009) 20, paragraph 18.
 See CPT/ Inf (2006) 41, paragraphs 60, 63 and 64; CPT/ Inf (2008) 3, paragraph 31; CPT/ Inf (2009) 20, paragraph 40.
 See CPT/ Inf (2009) 20, paragraph 40.
 See CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 30.
 The majority of these migrants were detained for attempting to leave the country with false travel documents.
 According to the commander of the Airport detention facility, persons who had demanded asylum upon entry into Greece would be detained up to four weeks in the facility. However, an asylum seeker returned under the Dublin II Regulation would be transferred to Petrou Ralli Alien Holding facility after a few days, where he/she, before being released, would be interviewed by one of five Special Committees.
 Not including the 22 irregular migrants accommodated in this unit who were at court at the time of the visit.
 See CPT/Inf (2009) 20, paragraph 41.
See CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraphs 35 and 36; CPT/Inf
(2008) 3, paragraph 28; CPT/Inf (2009) 20,
 See CPT/ Inf (2001) 18, paragraph 68.
 See CPT/Inf (2001) 19.
 See CPT/ Inf (2002) 32.
 See CPT/ Inf (2008) 3, paragraph 29.
 See CPT/ Inf (2009) 20, paragraph 45.
 See CPT/ Inf (2008) 3, paragraph 36.
 The Piraeus Facilities accommodated irregular migrants previously detained at Petrou Ralli. Therefore, medical screening of new arrivals on transmissible diseases was not carried out.
 See CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 46.
 A brief visit was paid to Malandrino Prison in 2001 before it was operating at full capacity.
 There are no published figures for the official capacity of the prison system as a whole.
 This number excludes patients in the three therapeutic institutions (Ayios Pavlos Hospital, Korydallos Psychiatric Hospital and Elaion Detoxification Centre), which were recently transferred to the responsibility of the Ministry of Health.
 As set out in the 1999 Prison Law (N° 2776).
 One woman claimed that when she took an examination in the local town, she was strip searched upon leaving the prison, handcuffed throughout apart from when she was actually sitting the exam and supervised by three prison officers as well as the exam invigilators. Upon her return to prison, she was strip searched and swabbed and told that a vaginal search would be carried out.
 In the Greek authorities’ response to the report on the 2005 visit, it was stated that all intimate examinations would be carried out by a gynaecologist who was not the treating doctor. However, in neither Thiva or Korydallos Women’s Prisons was this the case in 2009.
 See CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 89.
 See CPT/Inf (1994) 20, paragraphs 105 to 110.
 See CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 86.
 Sentenced women prisoners were transferred in August 2007 to Thiva Prison.
 16 on the ground floor and 18 on both the 1st and 2nd floors.
 The dormitories measured 18m˛, 21m˛ and 29m˛ and contained, respectively, 4, 5 and 8 sets of bunk-beds.
 At the time of the visit, the prison was holding 324 inmates for an official capacity of 410.
 The use of loudspeakers in other prisons, such as Patras and Korydallos Men’s, was equally inappropriate.
 No. 58819 of 7 April 2003 (in Government Gazette Issue No. 463 of 17 April 2003).
 Prisoners are confined to their cells between 12h15 and 15h00.
 The number of jobs offered in each prison was decided centrally by the Ministry of Justice in Athens and could not be altered by the prison management regardless of the opportunities, or lack thereof, for employment.
 See, for example, Article 21 on prisoner’s living place, which provides inter alia for prison accommodation to consist of cells and exceptionally wards for up to six persons, and that wards should provide at least 6m˛ space per prisoner.
 See Articles 34 to 50 of the Prison Law (Law 2776) of 22 December 1999.
 A prison health care service should be able to provide medical treatment and nursing care, as well as appropriate diets, physiotherapy, rehabilitation or any other necessary special facility, in conditions comparable to those enjoyed by patients in the outside community. Provision of medical, nursing and technical staff, as well as premises, installations and equipment, should be geared accordingly.
 It was not clear why doctors supposedly worked throughout the night when the prison was effectively “shut down”, with even fewer prison officers on duty and all prisoners locked in their cells from 20h00 to 07h00.
 In several prisons it was also observed that there was an absence of psychiatric notes and a lack of narrative in respect of mental health problems within prisoners’ individual health-care files.
 Article 24, paragraph 1, of the 1999 Prison Law stipulates that at the latest a prisoner should be taken to the doctor “the next working day after his admission”. In the CPT’s view, this provision should be amended to guarantee that all persons entering prison undergo a medical examination within 24 hours, rather than on the first working day following admission, which means that screening may be delayed by two or three days.
 Information provided in the Greek authorities’ response of 23 November 2009, in reply to the preliminary observations made by the CPT’s delegation at the end of the 2009 visit.
 In the authorities’ response of 23 November 2009, it was stated that this prisoner would be appearing before a court on 12 November 2009 to decide on a request for her conditional release from prison.
 See CPT/Inf (2002) 31, paragraph 97 and CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraphs 114 and 115.
 The CPT’s delegation noted that prisoners are sent all over the country with apparently little if any regard to their place of domicile, and that there appeared to be no tangible demarcation between the functions of the different prisons visited (leaving aside Korydallos Men’s and Women’s Prisons).
 By contrast, at Thessaloniki Prison, women prisoners were offered open visits without them or their families being subjected to such searches.
 Law 3727 of 18 December 2008 extends the periods of home leave to six days every two months and a maximum period of 46 days per calendar year.
 The two-fifths requirement for all prisoners sentenced for drug-related offences has been amended by Law 3727 of 18 December 2008, and now only applies to those persons sentenced for serious drug-related offences (as defined by Law 3459/2006, Articles 23 and 24).
 For example, Malandrino Prison had originally provided for four social worker posts for 280 prisoners but, at the time of the visit, there were only two persons in post for an inmate population of 444.
 There may be exceptional cases where giving specific reasons would not be appropriate; however, the reasons should be clearly recorded in the appropriate register and the prisoner concerned should have the right to appeal the decision to the First Instance Court.
 This was due to the window having been covered with a mesh, apparently on a temporary basis while building works occurred in the area outside the unit.
 See CPT/Inf (2002) 31, paragraph 112
 See CPT/Inf (2006) 41, paragraph 132