Press release - 229(2011)

Greece must improve conditions of detention

Statement by Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland

Strasbourg, 18.03.2011 - On Tuesday of this week, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) issued a statement raising very serious concerns about the conditions of detention for irregular migrants in Greece.

The CPT resorts to public statements on very rare occasions and only in exceptional situations. I therefore call on the Greek authorities to take immediate action in response to the concerns raised by the CPT.

We are well aware of the many challenges facing Greece, especially during the past year with the increasing numbers of irregular migrants entering the country via its land borders. Europe needs to demonstrate its solidarity and provide the necessary support to Greece to cope with these people. I have repeatedly stated that countries in Europe should refrain from returning asylum seekers and irregular migrants to Greece until proper detention conditions are ensured. Greece can count on the full assistance and support of the Council of Europe, in this endeavour. I also support the call for the European Union to assist the Greek authorities in the effort to improve the detention facilities in their country.

I have today written to Prime Minister George Papandreou to underline the importance of compliance with the recommendations the CPT has formulated since 1997 and encourage him to take immediate action.

Council of Europe Directorate of Communication
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 41 25 60
Fax:+33 (0)3 88 41 39 11