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Dark Rooms, Degrading Treatment and Denial: The Use of Violence in Greece’s Pre-Removal Detention Centres

Date 22 February, 2023
Category Special Report

Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) is a coalition of 14 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and collectives that have been monitoring and documenting illegal pushbacks and police violence along the European Union’s borders in the Western Balkans since the formal closure of the so-called ‘humanitarian corridor’ in 2016. Since the formulation of the Network in 2017, BVMN’s monitoring scope has increased to encompass the Western Balkans, Greece and Türkiye with a growing focus on chain-pushbacks from central European states such as Italy and Slovenia. While the continued use of illegal pushbacks – which often utilise informal detention sites – is extensively evidenced through BVMN’s online database. This report focuses on the severe and structural use of internal violence by detention authorities in formal sites of detention across mainland Greece. The trends and typologies of violence evidenced in detention facilities correspond with those used at the border, indicative of the systemic nature of abuse of people-on-the-move in Greece.

The report focuses on 50 testimonies by respondents who were detained in one of six Pre-Removal Detention Centres (PRDCs) since 2020: Xanthi, Paranesti, Corinth, Amygdaleza, Tavros (Petrou Ralli) and Fylakio, as well as several police stations or holding facilities across Greece including Metagogon (Thessaloniki), Athens airport and Isaakio police station. Evidence is specifically presented regarding the use of physical violence – including excessive and disproportionate force and the use of electric discharge weapons – psychological torment, humiliation, denial of access to medical care and verbal aggression. Through the analysis of extensive qualitative data from several detention facilities, this report provides evidence that we argue demonstrates the gravity and intent with which violence is practised by Greek authorities in PRDCs, and thus may constitute torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, as defined by the Convention Against Torture (CAT) and prohibited by Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).