Author: Lorraine Leete

Community Leader Targeted in Chios Trial Acquitted on all Charges

Moria10 Defendants Acquited on All Charges!

16 May 2018

In a case that never should have gone to trial, the #Moria10 trial ended with a verdict of not guilty! The verdict was unanimously reached by the Mixed Jury Court in Chios after even the prosecution’s witnesses testified that one defendant was a community leader who tried to peacefully solve problems in Moria Camp. The prosecutor also recommended acquittal after none of the State’s witnesses could credibly identify the three defendants who were on trial.  Only three of the ten accused were tried today, as the other seven were never arrested. Two were present for the trial, the third was tried in absentia.

This decision comes after one defendant, a community leader from Mali, was prevented from leaving Lesvos during the ten months while awaiting trial. The other was imprisoned for seven months awaiting trial. Both have been granted international protection in Greece – but their freedom has been limited while they awaited the outcome of this unjust prosecution.

The acquittal is a welcome verdict, and we hope will deter prosecutors and judges from continuing to prosecute and imprison migrants and refugees with baseless accusations and limited evidence. This decision comes just a few weeks after the unjust conviction in the #Moria35 case, in which 32 were found guilty in a case where State witnesses were similarly unable to identify any defendants as having taken part in any of the crimes they were accused of. We will continue monitoring the criminalization of migrants and refugees in Lesvos, as unfortunately these two prosecutions were not isolated incidents.

Trial in Chios Targets Community Leader

10 May 2018

Tomorrow, 11 May 2018, the trial will be held for ten asylum seekers who have been charged with arson and other lesser crimes, related to riots that took place in Moria Camp on 10 July 2017 in Lesvos.

Similar to the case of the Moria 35, we believe this prosecution is part of an ongoing policy to criminalize and silence those who question their hostile containment in Moria and on Lesvos island.

The Legal Centre has been closely following this case, as we witnessed the events on 10 July, and worked together with one of the defendants to advocate for the rights of asylum seekers in Lesvos in the months prior to his arrest. We will be monitoring the trial, in addition to appearing as a witness for the defense. Further information, from the Solidarity Assembly for the Moria 35 is copied below.

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Αύριο, 11 ΜαΪου 2018, μια ακόμα δίκη θα λάβει χώρα στη Χίο με κατηγορούμενους αιτούντες άσυλο που έχουν χρεωθεί με κατηγορίες για «εμπρησμό» και άλλες μικρότερα αδικήματα, σχετικά με τα επεισόδια της 10ης Ιουλίου του 2017 στη Λέσβο

Όπως και στην περίπτωση των 35 της Μόριας, πιστεύουμε πως αυτή η δίωξη είναι μέρος της συνεχιζόμενης πολιτικής να ποινικοποιούνται και να φιμώνονται εκείνοι που αμφισβητούν τον περιορισμό τους στη Μόρια και στο νησί της Λέσβου.

Το Legal Center Lesbos παρακολουθεί από κοντά την υπόθεση από τις 10 Ιουλίου, καθώς τα μέλη του είδαν όσα συνέβησαν εκείνη τη μέρα, και συνεργαζόταν με έναν από τους κατηγορούμενους, για την παροχή νομικών συμβουλών στους αιτούντες άσυλο, μήνες πριν από τη σύλληψή του.

Το Legal Center Lesbos θα παρακολουθήσει τη δίκη, ενώ μέλος του θα παραστεί ως μάρτυρας υπεράσπισης.

Παρακαλούμε διαδώστε, για να φτάσει παντού το μήνυμα ότι στα σύνορα της Ευρώπης, άνθρωποι φορτώνονται άδικα με κατηγορίες!

Originally published by the Solidarity Assembly for the Moria 35

The industry of criminalization of immigrant lives continues as just a few weeks after the trial of the #freethemoria35 another trial takes place in Chios. This time 10 people are accused for events that took place on the 10 of July of 2017, just a week before the riots that lead to the prosecution of the #Moria35.

The events that have put this “industry” in action were part of a series of protests by immigrants demanding freedom of movement from Lesvos to mainland Greece, and against the conditions in Moria camp and unfair asylum procedure. On 10 July 2017, a protest erupted in Moria Camp. The demonstration was a response to the rejection of asylum claims and systematic detention of asylum seekers in Lesvos. The police in Moria responded by attacking the crowd with tear gas. There were no serious injuries, but the containers of several NGOs were targeted, including Euro Relief, a religious Christian organization responsible for providing basic services in the Camp. EuroRelief has been denounced for collusion with the police, discrimination against and failure to protect LGBTQ+ immigrants, and for prosthelatysing inhabitants of Moria Camp.

It is this resistance to the repression against immigrant lives that triggered the prosecutions in this case.

The arrests in the case took place weeks after the events, and were not random as in the case of the #moria35. Among the prosecuted is a well known immigrant who has been organizing and assisting people to claim their rights for over a year. Mohamadou, who has received asylum, did not remain a passive observer of the situation and the treatment which he and other people were receiving.  Instead he tried to change things and empower his fellow immigrants. As one of the representatives for the Mali community, he attended meetings, discussed with people in the camp responsible for conditions and the asylum procedure, and organized along with other actors. It seems like that he is being punished for this role in organizing the migrants community and raising awareness of the dehumanizing treatment immigrants receive when they reach Lesvos.

The message behind this specific prosecution is that all the parts of the machine of Moria are essential for its function and continuity, and that none shall be contested  (resistance will be tolerated). Nor the place of the immigrants which is to passively accept what has been planned for them nor the role of the NGO’s which is encircled inside this detention – centered system.  And in order to ensure that, the responsible of the camp, the police, the prosecutors, try to make sure that every effort of the immigrants to organize and protest against any part of this machine, will be crushed. 

We have witness this kind of counterinsurgency politics before, as state repression has been a tool against our struggles in everyday life. Confronting these series of prosecutions we are going to stand in solidarity with the people that face the encriminilization of their lives and make sure that they don’t stand alone against this machine that is called European migration Policy.

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Η βιομηχανία εγκληματοποιησης των ζωών των μεταναστών/ριών συνεχίζεται, καθώς μερικές μόλις βδομάδες μετά τη δίκη των #freethemoria35 άλλη μια δίκη διαδραματίζεται στη Χίο. Αυτή τη φορά, 10 άνθρωποι κατηγορούνται για τα γεγονότα που συνέβησαν στις 10 Ιούλη του 2017, μόλις μια βδομάδα πριν από την εξέγερση που οδήγησε στη δίωξη των #Moria35.

Τα γεγονότα που έθεσαν σε κίνηση αυτή τη “βιομηχανία” αποτέλεσαν μέρος μιας σειράς διαμαρτυριών μεταναστών/ριών με αίτημα την ελεύθερη μετακίνηση από τη Λέσβο στην ηπειρωτική Ελλάδα, και ενάντια στις συνθήκες στο κέντρο κράτησης της Μόριας και τις άδικες διαδικασίες ασύλου. Στις 10 Ιούλη 2017, μια διαμαρτυρία ξέσπασε στο κέντρο της Μόριας. Η διαμαρτυρία ήρθε ως απάντηση στην αρνητική απάντηση στα αιτήματα ασύλου και στη συστηματική κράτηση αυτών που αιτούνται άσυλο στη Λέσβο. Η αστυνομία στη Μόρια απάντησε επιτιθέμενη στο πλήθος με δακρυγόνα. Δεν υπήρξαν σοβαροί τραυματισμοί, αλλά τα λυόμενα διαφόρων ΜΚΟ στοχοποιήθηκαν, μεταξύ των οποίων και της EuroRelief, μια θρησκευτική χριστιανική οργάνωση υπεύθυνη για την παροχή βασικών υπηρεσιών στο κέντρο κράτησης. Η EuroRelief έχει καταγγελθεί για συνεννόηση με την αστυνομία, διακρίσεις ενάντια σε ΛΟΑΤΚΙ+ μετανάστες/ριες, οι οποίοι/ες δε λαμβάνουν καμία προστασία από την οργάνωση, και για προσυλητισμό αυτών που διαμένουν στο κέντρο κράτησης της Μόριας.

Αυτή η αντίσταση στην καταπίεση κατά των ζωών των μεταναστών/ριών είναι αυτό που οδήγησε στις διώξεις στην προκειμένη περίπτωση.

​Οι συλλήψεις σε αυτή την περίπτωση συνέβησαν εβδομάδες μετά τα γεγονότα, και δεν ήταν τυχαίες, όπως στην περίπτωση των #moria35. Μεταξύ των διωκόμενων είναι ένας γνωστός μετανάστης που οργανώνει και βοηθάει ανθρώπους να διεκδικήσουν τα δικαιώματά τους για πάνω από έναν χρόνο. Ο Mohamadou, που έχει πάρει άσυλο, δεν παρέμεινε ένας παθητικός παρατηρητής της κατάστασης και της μεταχείρισης που δεχόταν εκείνος και άλλοι. Αντίθετα, προσπάθησε να αλλάξει τα πράγματα και να ενδυναμώσει τους υπόλοιπους μετανάστες/ριες. Ως ένας από τους εκπροσώπους της κοινότητας του Μάλι, πήγαινε σε συναντήσεις, συζητούσε με ανθρώπους στο κέντρο κράτησης που ήταν υπεύθυνοι για τις συνθήκες και τη διαδικασία ασύλου, και οργάνωνε μαζί με άλλους. Φαίνεται πως τιμωρείται για το ρόλο του στην οργάνωση της κοινότητας των μεταναστών/ριών και επειδή ευαισθητοποιούσε τον κόσμο σχετικά με την απάνθρωπη μεταχείριση που δέχονται οι μετανάστες και μετανάστριες όταν φτάνουν στη Λέσβο.

Το μήνυμα πίσω από αυτή τη συγκεκριμένη δίωξη είναι ότι κάθε κομμάτι της μηχανής της Μόριας είναι ουσιώδες για τη λειτουργία και τη συνέχειά της, και οπότε κανένα κομμάτι της δεν θα αμφισβητείται (καμία αντίσταση δε θα γίνει ανεκτή). Ούτε η θέση των μεταναστών/ριών, η οποία είναι να δέχονται παθητικά αυτό που έχει προσχεδιαστεί για εκείνους/ες, ούτε ο ρόλος των ΜΚΟ που είναι εγγεγραμένος (εγκλωβισμένος) μέσα σε αυτό το σύστημα που επικεντρώνεται στην κράτηση. Και για να σιγουρέψουν αυτή την κατάσταση, οι υπεύθυνοι του κέντρου, η αστυνομία και οι εισαγγελείς προσπαθούν να καταστήσουν βέβαια ότι κάθε προσπάθεια των μεταναστών/ριών για οργάνωση και διαμαρτυρία ενάντια σε οποιοδήποτε κομμάτι αυτής της μηχανής θα καταστέλλεται.

Έχουμε γίνει μάρτυρες αυτού του είδους αντιεξεγερτικής πολιτικής και πρωτύτερα, καθώς η κρατική καταστολή έχει χρησιμοποιηθεί ως εργαλείο ενάντια στους αγώνες στην καθημερινή μας ζωή. Αντιμετωπίζοντας αυτή τη σειρά διώξεων, θα σταθούμε σε αλληλεγγύη με τους ανθρώπους που βιώνουν την εγκληματοποίηση των ζωών τους, και δε θα τους αφήσουμε να σταθούν μόνοι και μόνες απέναντι στη μηχανή που ονομάζεται ευρωπαϊκή μεταναστευτική πολιτική.

MORIA35 UPDATES

DEportation of 7 Cancelled, 2 Detainees released

10 May 2018

The scheduled deportation of 7 of the Moria 35 has been cancelled to allow consideration of their subsequent application for international protection. This comes as a result of a coordinated effort by Legal Centre Lesbos, Lesvos Solidarity – Pikpa, and HIAS lawyers, the rapid mobilization of the #freethemoria35 campaign, and intervention by both UNHCR and the Ombudsman’s office. In another small victory in our fight to free the Moria 35, two additional detainees were released yesterday. This means that 24 of the 35 remain imprisoned, despite the lack of legal grounds to detain them. Our work to free the 35 continues.

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URGENT ACTION NEEDED – 7 face imminent deportation

7 May 2018

Seven of the #Moria35 face deportation on Thursday 10 May 2018. In a process fraught with procedural violations, they have had their applications for asylum rejected. After over a year of dehumanizing treatment, from Moria Camp, to the viscous attack by the police, followed by nine months of unjust imprisonment, they now face being sent to Turkish prison, and likely deportation to the countries they fled. Furthermore, all are eligible for humanitarian protection in Greece as victims or witnesses of a serious crime. Three have themselves filed complaints against the police for the attack against them, and there is an open ongoing investigation initiated by the public prosecutor against the police, for which all seven are important witnesses. Their deportation will not only violate their rights to due process, but will ensure the continued impunity of the police in their policies of violent repression in the Greek hotspots. To stop the deportation contact the Lesvos Police at +30 22510 37721, 58800, 58803 and the Regional Asylum Office at +30 2251032323 or pga.lesvou@asylo.gov.gr.

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Την Πέμπτη οι 7 από τους #Moria35 είναι για απέλαση ενώ οι αιτήσεις τους για άσυλο έχουν απορριφθεί. Ένα χρόνο απάνθρωπης αντιμετώπισης στον καταυλισμό της Μόριας, τη βίαιη αστυνομική επίθεση και την απαράδεκτη 9-μηνη φυλάκισή τους, τώρα θα σταλούν σε τουρκική φυλακή και ενδεχόμενη απέλαση πίσω στις χώρες απ’όπου το έσκασαν. Όλοι τους έχουν το δικαίωμα ανθρωπιστικής προστασίας στην Ελλάδα ως θύματα ή μάρτυρες σοβαρών εγκλημάτων. Οι τρεις έχουν καταγγείλει την αστυνομία για τις επιθέσεις εναντίον τους και ο Εισαγγελέας κάνει έρευνες κατά της αστυνομίας στις οποίες και οι εφτά είναι μάρτυρες. Οι απελάσεις τους όχι μόνο παραβιάζουν το δικαίωμα δίκαιων διαδικασιών αλλά έτσι διασφαλίζεται και η συνέχιση της αστυνομικής αυθαιρεσίας και της πολιτικής βίαιης καταπίεσης στους ελληνικούς προσφυγικούς καταυλισμούς. Για να σταματήσουν οι απελάσεις επικοινωνούμε με την Αστυνομία Λέσβου 22510 37721, 58800, 58803 και την Περιφερειακή Υπηρεσία Ασύλου 2251032323 ή pga.lesvou@asylo.gov.gr #freethemoria35 #lesvos #refugeesgr

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Continue reading “MORIA35 UPDATES”

Moria 35 Trial Ends in Conviction of 32 – But After 9 Months of Unjust Detention, the 35 will Finally be Free!

PRESS RELEASE

While all 35 defendants should soon be released from detention, a gross miscarriage of justice took place today at the Mixed Jury Court in Chios, Greece where a ruling of guilty was declared against 32 of the 35 defendants. The 35 were arbitrarily and violently arrested in Moria camp in Lesvos on 18 July 2017 following what started as a peaceful protest outside of an EASO office. This inherently unsafe verdict, reached despite an overwhelming lack of evidence, follows a week long trial which continuously violated fundamental principles of a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights and brings into serious question the impartiality of both the Judges and Prosecutor in the case.

Ελληνική έκδοση παρακάτω

32 of the 35 defendants were found guilty of injury to public officials, but acquitted on all other charges. The three individuals detained by a firefighter outside Moria Camp were found innocent of all charges; the testimony against them discredited as inconsistent and lacking credibility as the firefighter misidentified the defendants in court.

While the evidence against the remaining 32 defendants was similarly inconsistent, the three judges and four jurors unanimously found the 32 guilty. This ruling was reached without the prosecutor proving the necessary elements of the crime: there was only evidence of superficial injuries to one police officer, and there was no credible evidence identifying any of the 32 as having assaulted any police officer. Police witnesses testified that all 32 defendants arrested inside Moria Camp were guilty simply because they were present in the African section of the camp after clashes between some migrants and riot police had ended. Confirmation by the court that guilt can be implied by race and location near to where alleged crimes took place sets an extremely dangerous precedent for arrests following riots and protests.

The defense witnesses included residents from Mytilene and Moria Camp, who  confirmed that Moria Camp was never evacuated, that people freely entered and exited the camp throughout the afternoon through back entrances and that the camp was calm for roughly an hour before the arrests took place. Many defendants testified about their participation in the protest calling for freedom of movement from Lesvos to mainland Greece, an end to unjust asylum procedures on the island, and against deplorable conditions in Moria. They explained that police responded violently, dispersing the protestors with excessive use of tear gas. Others testified that they entered Moria camp after it was calm, only to find themselves violently arrested during the police raid. The excessive police violence was confirmed in the trial through medical documentation of injuries to defendants, video evidence of the arrests, and the testimony of several witnesses and defendants. The public prosecutor in Mytilene has already opened an investigation against unknown police officers for causing serious bodily harm to 12 of the 35 defendants.

The trial in Chios was fraught with serious procedural problems, including an absence of interpretation for the majority of the trial and the severely limited time the defendants and defence witnesses were given to present their side of the story.  An International delegation of legal observers were present throughout the trial and will be publishing a report regarding their assessment regarding its fairness in due course.  

It defies all logic, despite shocking video footage of police attacks against the defendants; and police witnesses unable to positively identify any of the 35 in court, that 32 were found guilty.

This ruling comes only four days after the 23 April 2018 arrests and criminal charges brought against 122 individuals – mostly Afghan – who had been peacefully protesting in Mytilene and were viciously attacked by fascist militant thugs before being arrested by the police. We are extremely concerned that the decision of the Chios Court will further encourage the State to continue criminalizing those who resist the State’s hostile policies against them.

The guilty verdict has been appealed by the 32, who were given a 26 month suspended prison sentence. This sentence itself is unreasonable as it is 19 months longer than the recommended 7 months proposed by the prosecutor at the conclusion of the proceedings.

As the 32 found guilty are eligible for a suspended prison sentence, the good news is that after nine months of unjust detention awaiting trial, the 35 will finally be freed.

Legal Centre Lesbos – a team of International and Greek Lawyers, Interpreters and Volunteers.  For more info contact info@legalcentrelesbos.org or +30 695 507 4724

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Αν και οι 35 κατηγορούμενοι θα αφεθούν ελεύθεροι σύντομα, έλαβε χώρα σήμερα μια κραυγαλέα κακοδικία στο Μικτό Ορκωτό Δικαστήριο της Χίου, όπου οι 32 από τους 35 κατηγορούμενους βρέθηκαν ένοχοι. Οι 35 είχαν συλληφθεί βίαια και αυθαίρετα στο κέντρο της Μόριας στην Λέσβο στις 18 Ιουλίου 2017 στο πλαίσιο επεισοδίων που ξεκίνησαν ως μια ειρηνική διαμαρτυρία έξω από τα γραφεία της Ευρωπαϊκής Υπηρεσίας Υποστήριξης για το Άσυλο (EASO). Αυτή η εγγενώς επισφαλής απόφαση, η οποία λήφθηκε παρά την συντριπτική έλλειψη αποδεικτικών στοιχείων, υπήρξε το αποτέλεσμα μιας δίκης που διήρκεσε μια εβδομάδα και στο πλαίσιο της οποίας σημειώθηκαν συνεχείς παραβιάσεις θεμελιωδών αρχών δίκαιης δίκης, όπως αυτή προβλέπεται στο άρθρο 6 της Ευρωπαϊκής Σύμβασης για τα Δικαιώματα του Ανθρώπου και θετεί σημαντικά ερωτήματα για την αμεροληψία. τόσο των δικαστών όσο και της εισαγγελέως της έδρας.

32 από τους 35 κατηγορούμενους κρίθηκαν ένοχοι για τετελεσμένη σωματική βλάβη εναντίον αστυνομικών αλλά απαλλάχθηκαν από κάθε άλλη κατηγορία. Οι 3 εξ αυτών που πιάστηκαν από πυροσβέστη εκτός του κέντρου της Μόριας κρίθηκαν αθώοι για όλες τις αξιόποινες πράξεις για τις οποίες κατηγορούνταν. Η μαρτυρία που δόθηκε εναντίον τους δεν θεωρήθηκε αξιόπιστη καθώς ο πυροσβέστης προέβη σε εσφαλμένη αναγνώριση προσώπων κατά την ακροαματική διαδικασία.

Αν και τα αποδεικτικά στοιχεία εναντίον των υπολοίπων 32 κατηγορουμένων εμφάνιζαν παρόμοιες ασυνέχειες, οι 3 δικαστές και οι 4 ένορκοι έκριναν ομόφωνα ότι και οι 32 είναι ένοχοι. Αυτή η απόφαση ελήφθη χωρίς να έχει αποδείξει η εισαγγελέας ότι πληρώθηκαν τα απαραίτητα στοιχεία του εγκλήματος: υπήρχαν μόνο στοιχεία που καταδείκνυαν ότι υπέστη ελαφρά σωματική βλάβη ένας από τους αστυνομικούς και δεν υπήρχαν πειστικά στοιχεία από τα οποία να προκύπτει ότι οι συγκεκριμένοι 32 κατηγορούμενοι επιτέθηκαν σε αστυνομικό. Οι αστυνομικοί που κατέθεσαν ως μάρτυρες κατηγορίας, δήλωσαν πως οι 32 που συλλήφθησαν εντός του κέντρου της Μόριας ήταν ένοχοι απλώς επειδή ήταν παρόντες στο Αφρικανικό τμήμα του κέντρου αφού είχαν λήξει τα επεισόδια μεταξύ κάποιων μεταναστών και της διμοιρίας των ΜΑΤ. Το γεγονός ότι το δικαστήριο επικύρωσε με την απόφαση του το σκεπτικό ότι η ενοχή μπορεί να συναχθεί λόγω φυλής και τοποθεσίας κοντινής σε αυτήν όπου έλαβαν μέρος τα φερόμενα εγκλήματα θέτει ένα εξαιρετικά επικίνδυνο προηγούμενο για την σύλληψη στο πλαίσιο επεισοδιών και διαδηλώσεων.

Στους μάρτυρες υπεράσπισης περιλαμβάνονταν κάτοικοι από την Μυτιλήνη και το κέντρο της Μόριας, οι οποίοι επιβεβαίωσαν ότι το κέντρο δεν εκκενώθηκε ποτέ, ότι οι άνθρωποι εισέρχονταν και εξέρχονταν του κέντρου ελεύθερα καθ ΄όλη την διάρκεια εκείνου του απογέυματος μέσω των εισόδων στο πίσω μέρος του κέντρου και ότι στο κέντρο επικρατούσε ησυχία για σχεδόν μια ώρα πριν ξεκινήσουν οι συλλήψεις. Πολλοι κατηγορούμενοι κατέθεσαν ότι συμμετείχαν στην ειρηνική διαδήλωση, διεκδικώντας ελευθερία κινήσεως από την Λέσβο προς την ελληνική ενδοχώρα, να λάβει τέλος η άδικη διαδικασία ασύλου στο νησί και βελτίωση των συνθηκών στην Μόρια. Όπως εξήγησαν, οι αστυνομικοί ανταποκρίθηκαν βίαια, διασκορπώντας τους διαδηλωτές με υπέρμετρη χρήση δακρυγόνων. Άλλοι κατέθεσαν ότι εισήλθαν στην Μόρια όταν επικρατούσε ήδη ηρεμία, για να βρεθούν βιαία συλληφθέντες κατά την επιδρομή της αστυνομίας. Η υπερβολική χρήση βίας από τους αστυνομικούς επιβεβαιώθηκε κατά την διάρκεια της δίκης μέσω ιατρικών βεβαιώσεων των τραυμάτων που υπέστησαν οι κατηγορούμενοι, βιντεοληπτικό υλικό των συλλήψεων και την κατάθεση πολλών μαρτύρων και κατηγορουμένων. Η εισαγγελία της Μυτιλήνης έχει ήδη κινήσει την διαδικασία έρευνας κατά αγνώστων αστυνομικών για την πρόκληση σοβαρών σωματικών βλαβών σε 12 από τους 35 κατηγορουμένους.

Η δίκη στην Χίο έβριθε διαδικαστικών προβλημάτων, συμπεριλαμβανομένης της απουσίας διερμηνείας για το μεγαλύτερο κομματί της δικής καθώς και του ιδιαίτέρως περιορισμένου χρόνου που δόθηκε στους κατηγορούμενους και τους μάρτυρες υπεράσπισης να παρουσίασουν την δική τους σκοπιά των γεγονότων. Μια διεθνή αποστολή νομικών παρατηρητών ήταν παρούσα κατά την διάρκεια της δίκης, η οποία έχει ανάλαβει την εκπόνηση εντός του προσεχούς μέλλοντος μια αναφοράς σχετικά με το αν τηρήθηκαν κατά την ακροαματική διαδικασία τα εχέγγυα δίκαιης δίκης.

Αψηφά την λογική το γεγονός ότι παρά την ύπαρξη βιντεοληπτικού υλικού στο οποίο φαίνονται επιθέσεις αστυνομικών κατά των κατηγορουμένων και παρά την αδυναμία των αστυνομικών που κατέθεσαν ως μάρτυρες να αναγνωρίσουν οποιονδήποτε από τους 35 κατηγορούμενους στο δικαστήριο, οι 32 βρέθηκαν ένοχοι.

Αυτή η απόφαση ελήφθη 4 ημέρες μετά τις συλλήψεις της 23ης Απριλίου 2018 και τις συνακόλουθες προσαγωγές 122 ατόμων – κυρίως Αφγανικής καταγωγής – οι οποίοι διαδήλωναν ειρηνικά στην Μυτιλήνη και δέχθηκαν βίαιες επιθέσεις από ένοπλους φασίστες κακοποιούς προτού συλληφθούν από την αστυνομία. Ανησυχούμε ιδιαίτερα ότι η απόφαση του δικαστηρίου της Χίου μπορεί να αποτελέσει πάτημα για το κράτος να συνεχίσει να ποινικοποιεί τις διαδηλώσεις ανθρώπων που αντιστέκονται στις εχθρικές πολιτικές που υιοθετεί το κράτος εναντίον τους.

Οι 32 κατηγορούμενοι στους οποίες επιβλήθηκε ποινή φυλάκισης 26 μηνών έχουν ασκήσει έφεση κατά της απόφασης. Η ίδια η ποινή είναι παράλογη καθώς υπερβαίνει κατά 19 μηνές τους 7 μήνες που πρότεινε ως ποινή η εισαγγελέας κατά το πέρας της διαδικασίας.

Καθώς η ποινή των 32 υπόκειται σε αναστολή, το θετικό νέο είναι ότι μετά από εννέα μήνες άδικης προφυλάκισης ενώ περίμεναν να εκδικαστεί η υπόθεση, οι 35 θα αφεθούν επιτέλους ελεύθεροι.

Legal Centre Lesbos –  Για περισσότερες πληροφορίες επικοινωνήστε με το info@legalcentrelesbos.org ή το τηλέφωνο +30 695 507 4724

Release of Documentary: MORIA 35

Ahead of the 20 April 2018 trial of the Moria 35, we premiered the documentary Moria 35, at Refugees Accommodation and Solidarity Space City Plaza in Athens this Saturday 14 April.

The film chronicles the months of organized resistence by migrants in Moria Detention Centre prior to the 18 July 2017 violent police crack-down and arrest of the 35 now facing trial. On trial this week are not only the unjust arrest and prosecution of the 35, but also the State policies of violence and the marginalization of migrants in hotspots like Moria at Europe’s borders.

Watch here!

In City Plaza on Saturday the screening of Moria 35 was part of an open discussion about persecuted and imprisoned migrants of the Moria 35, and Petrou Ralli 8.  Joining the discussion were filmmaker Fridoon Joinda, as well as Nasim Lomani from City Plaza, Lorraine Leete from the Legal Centre, and Moria 35 defence attorney Giorgia Palaiologou.

Demonstration Against Two Years of EU’s Dirty Deal with Turkey

PRESS RELEASE: Two years after the EU-Turkey deal came into force, on Saturday 17th March the Legal Centre will join a demonstration, in a show of solidarity with the thousands of migrants who are forced to live in inhumane conditions in Moria Detention Centre and in the open air prison of Lesvos. Due to recent police raids and increased tensions and fear of police repression, the demonstration will not be held as originally planned outside Moria Detention Centre, but will be moved to the centre of Mytilene in Sappfous Square. Now, more than ever, solidarity is needed to defend migrants’ rights against the EU’s dirty anti-migration deals, which have led to preventable deaths at Europe’s borders and continued marginalization and criminalization of migrants’ lives.

As a legal organization, we work to defend migrants and refugees’ right to residency in Greece and across Europe. However, we are conscious that we are working in a political and legal context where these rights are being systematically denied. Nearly one hundred people are currently detained inside Moria, prohibited from leaving the Camp since arrival, with the intention that these individuals will have their cases processed and they will be deported to Turkey without ever freely setting foot in Europe.  Police carry out discriminatory raids and controls against migrants, the most recent early this morning in Moria Camp. Trumped-up criminal charges are also regularly brought against migrants, including in the case of the Moria 35, which will go to trial next month. Access to justice is denied to asylum seekers through a meaningless review of rejected claims by Appeals Committees that reject 99% of cases, and a prohibitively expensive appeals procedure in court. And millions of people are prevented by EU-supported Turkish authorities from leaving unsafe countries such as Turkey and reaching Greece.

It is essential that as lawyers we work not only to advocate for individual refugees’ rights to protection in Europe, but to work towards accountability for the ongoing assault on migrants’ lives. As lawyers we must also work to defend the right to organise and demonstrate against these anti-migration policies without fear.

For these reasons we join Saturday’s demonstration, with the Coordination for Refugee and Immigrant Support Movement of Lesvos, together with actions held throughout Europe on this International Day of Action against Racism and Fascism.

For further information please use the links below or contact us via:
info@legalcentrelesbos.org or call Lorraine Leete on +30 695 507 4724

January 2018 Report on Rights Violations and Resistance in Lesvos

Violations of Rights Exposed at Europe’s Borders

At the close of 2017 in the period since our last report, the inhumane treatment of migrants in Lesvos continues to be widely reported on and denounced by refugees and migrants, solidarity activists, the media, and human rights organizations. In response to this pressure, in November and December roughly 3000 asylum seekers were transferred from Lesvos to mainland Greece and Crete. However during the same time period approximately the same number of individuals arrived to Lesvos from Turkey.

Whilst the number of arrivals decreased somewhat in January, as a result of rainy, windy, and cold weather, an estimated 7000 migrants are still living in Lesvos. As recently reported by Amnesty International, for those trapped on the island, conditions remain unbearable; in violation of the right to adequate housing, health care, and freedom of movement. The European Union continues to blame Greece for the conditions in the hotspots. However, inhumane and crowded conditions are ensured so long as movement from the Greek islands to mainland Europe is prohibited for the majority of asylum seekers – something that has been enforced since the EU-Turkey Statement in March 2016.

Europe continues to measure success of the EU-Turkey deal in terms of curbing the total number of arrivals to Europe, but in effect this means that more individuals are stuck in unsafe and inhumane situations on the frontier of Europe – in Lesvos, but in even greater numbers in countries at Europe’s borders such as Turkey and Libya. As has been shown throughout history, halting migration is impossible, as borders will inevitably be crossed and individuals will continue to migrate in search of refuge.

Thirty-Year-Old Man Drowns Attempting to BOARD FERRY to ATHENS

The tragic consequences for individuals denied safe passage were seen this month in Lesvos as on 1 February 2018, an unidentified man’s body was found in the port of Mytilini. It was presumed that he drowned, having died 10 days earlier. The body was identified by authorities as that of a Moroccan man who had registered for international protection in Lesvos in July 2017.

Whilst he is yet to be formally identified, given that his friends have not been permitted to see his body, they believe that the man found was actually Saihi, a 30 year old Algerian, who ten days earlier had attempted to swim to climb aboard a ferry bound for Athens. His friends believe he registered his nationality as Moroccan because he feared that the authorities would discriminate against Algerians. However, even though registered as a Moroccan he found no protection in Greece. Even in death, his family is being denied the right to bury him and mourn appropriately; his body still lays in the Mytilini morgue due to their inability to pay the fees to expatriate his body to Algeria.

Saihi had recently celebrated his thirtieth birthday with friends and after over six months trapped in Lesvos he decided to take his chances to leave the island. Tragically, the dangerous journeys people make to reach Europe do not end when they reach Lesvos. Although they are in Europe, since the EU-Turkey deal, people who arrive to the Greek territories from Turkey are prohibited from leaving the islands until the lengthy asylum procedure has completed. If rejected, they face deportation to Turkey, where rights are systematically denied and where non-Syrians face certain imprisonment and likely deportation to their home countries.

Saihi was one of many people trapped on the island who risk their lives attempting to reach the European continent. As he did not have legal status in Greece, he was denied assistance by NGOs. He was left on his own in Lesvos; staying in an abandoned house in Mytilini, without electricity, water, or any aid apart from food assistance provided through No Borders Kitchen. He had left Moria Camp approximately four months earlier, to get away from the unsafe environment where police violence and daily fights are routine. Employment opportunities in Lesvos are limited even for Greeks, and it is even more difficult for foreigners to support themselves given language barriers and discrimination. Many individuals trapped in Lesvos living either in the inhumane conditions of Moria Camp or on the streets and abandoned houses of Mytilini self-medicate with horribly addictive prescription drugs, such as the insomnia medication Flunitrazepam (commonly known as “Bubli”). Prescriptions for these drugs are illegally sold in the open in Moria Camp and the parks of Mytilini under the eye of Greek police, who rarely intervene. Saihi was one individual who self medicated in order to build up the courage to face the swim to board the ferry to Athens.

Instead of investigating the rampant sale of drugs to desperate migrants and refugees who have few options for survival in Lesvos, the Greek police operate an unchecked campaign of discrimination and violence against such marginalized persons. Systematic racial profiling by the police who regularly ask individuals for proof of their legal status means a life of constant stress, in particular for individuals denied protection by the Greek government and assistance by NGOs.

In Lesvos, assistance provided by many humanitarian NGOs is linked to legal status, in direct contrast to established humanitarian principles, such as a commitment to provide assistance with impartiality,

which requires that it be provided solely on the basis of need and in proportion to need. This reflects the wider principle of non-discrimination that no one should be discriminated against on any grounds of status.

Mercy Corps International, for example provides cash assistance only to those who the Greek government has designated as asylum seekers or refugees. This means that humanitarian aid is provided only when the Greek government legitimizes an individual’s presence in Greece. Individuals whose applications have been rejected in the second instance and individuals who have not made an application to the Greek Asylum Service (often due to delays in the processing of applications) are unable to receive this aid, regardless of their need. Similar requirements for UNHCR coordinated housing and other services prevent many individuals in need from being provided housing outside Moria Camp, in shelters run by other NGOs.

Saihi’s death is a tragic consequence of Europe’s illegal policies of exclusion and containment. While they are not responsible for their creation, humanitarian NGOs must do more to distance themselves from such policies and instead adhere to the principles of impartiality and independence if they are truly nongovernmental and humanitarian.

Arbitrary Detention in Lesvos Continues

In January 2018, the so-called “pilot” program to detain throughout the asylum procedure individuals from low recognition rate countries officially ended. Since its initiation, The Legal Centre has denounced the practice of detention based on nationality as illegal. While we welcome the end of this policy, Greek Authorities continue to arbitrarily detain individuals on arrival.

The police enforcing the detention, justify such action based on the individual’s responses during their initial registration, citing that these individuals have applied for international protection “in order to delay or frustrate the enforcement of a return decision”. While this is one of the legal grounds for detention under Greek Law, this reasoning is being used to detain individuals immediately upon arrival in Greece, before they have even completed their initial registration.

While the stated reason for detention has changed, it seems that detention is still largely based on nationality, given that most of those detained upon arrival are from countries where the majority of citizens are denied international protection.

Further frustrating judicial review of these decisions, individuals are often detained without a written comprehensive order from the Police Director, stating “complete and comprehensive reasoning” for the detention, as required by Greek Law 4375, Article 46(3). The lack of such an order makes it difficult for individuals and lawyers alike to legally challenge the decision in court.

Additionally, Greece continues the practice of detaining individuals who have requested “voluntary” return to their home countries. Many individuals spend months in detention after they make the difficult decision to give up on their hope of receiving protection in Europe.

Under Greek and international law, asylum seekers cannot be detained simply because “he/she entered irregularly and/or stays in the country without a legal residence permit,” and detention should be enforced “exceptionally and if this is considered necessary after an individual assessment under the condition that no alternative measures” can be applied. [Greek Law 4375, Article 46]. While we condemn the containment policy as a violation of individuals’ right to freedom of movement, when most asylum seekers in Lesvos are in any case prohibited from leaving, there is no legal excuse for keeping individuals in detention upon arrival on the closed island of Lesvos, or when they are coerced into returning to their home countries.

Legal Centre Updates

Moria 35+2

Six months have passed since the police violently raided the African section of Moria Camp, and a trial date still has not been set for the Moria 35. On the 13 December 2017 the Municipal Court renewed for another six months the pretrial detention for the 30 defendants currently detained awaiting trial. This is despite petitions by the Legal Centre and Solidarity Now attorneys to release individuals with severe mental and physical health conditions. Since their arrest on 18 July 2017, these men have now been imprisoned for over six months, without any credible evidence against them.

Furthermore, it has been confirmed that two individuals arrested in Lesvos in the weeks following the 18 July raid of Moria Refugee Camp face identical criminal charges as the 35 originally arrested. These two men have been released with restrictive measures and continue to live in Lesvos. It is expected that they will be scheduled for trial together with the original 35.

While they are not in an official prison, the seven defendants who were released with restricted measures are still in an open air prison, restricted to Lesvos island and many still live in the militarized and inhumane Moria Refugee Camp; the same place where they were brutally attacked by the police on 18 July 2017. They are marginalized and have limited access to health care and humanitarian aid, making their life extremely difficult. Many still suffer health problems that were caused or aggravated by the police violence against them, and have ongoing health needs that they do not have funds to pay for. They are in a state of limbo, denied aid from organizations like Mercy Corps, because their asylum claims have been rejected in the second instance, yet they are prohibited from leaving the island (even if it were to return to their home country) due to the ongoing criminal case against them.

Despite the lack of justice found in the Greek court to date, there has been a growing solidarity movement to support these men and demand their freedom, as activists from around Europe have learned of their unjust arrest and continued detention.

At the Legal Centre, we have also launched a successful crowd funding campaign to both raise awareness and funds to ensure an effective legal defense.

Funding Updates

The Legal Centre continues to operate with the exclusive support of individual donations and entities that are not complicit in human rights or environmental abuses. Our ethical funding guidelines allow us not only to maintain our independence, but through our funders we have also begun to build relationships with solidarity organization outside Lesvos, in particular in Barcelona. We have renewed funding from both Fons Catalá and Fundación Heres for 2018, and received support from ASIC La Garriga‘s December fundraising campaign.

Thanks to this funding we are now are able to support a small team of two full time Greek attorneys, three part time interpreters, and a full time coordinator. Volunteer lawyers and legally trained individuals continue to serve as caseworkers in the Legal Centre and provide invaluable assistance to ensure that the Legal Centre can continue to have an open door policy and provide individualized consultation to any migrant in Lesvos who seeks our legal assistance. In 2017, through advocacy of our volunteers, interpreters, and lawyers, hundreds of Legal Centre clients were granted refugee status, subsidiary protection, and permission to leave Lesvos for the European continent.

OCTOBER REPORT ON RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND RESISTANCE IN LESVOS

  1. Moria Refugee Camp Unlivable and Containment Policy Unsustainable
  2. OPEN THE ISLANDS Campaigns initiated throughout Lesvos and Greece
  3. Sappho Square Sit-In
  4. Memorials Held for Refugees Killed at Sea and in Lesvos
  5. Legal Updates
    • Asylum Seekers Whose Right to Legal Aid Was Violated Forcibly Returned to Turkey
    • Detention Policy in Violation of International Law Extended to Syrian Men
    • Shifting Practices for Registration and Granting Permission to Leave the Island
  6. Legal Centre Lesbos Updates
    • Moria 35 Update
    • Legal Centre Lesbos Founder Receives Paris Pro Bono Award

1. Moria Refugee Camp Unlivable and Containment Policy Unsustainable

In October over 2260 individuals arrived in Lesvos from Turkey. During the same period, only 1189 asylum seekers were allowed to leave Lesvos and provided with accommodation on the mainland. This brings the total population of refugees and asylum seekers in Lesvos to approximately 8000, with an estimated 6000 staying in or around Moria Refugee Camp. Last month we reported on the inhumane conditions in Moria, and this month these problems have only compounded, putting asylum seekers lives in acute danger. Now, over 1000 children are living in Moria, unaccompanied minor children are living together with adults, and 3000 individuals are living in summer camping tents without heating. Reception conditions do not come close to “ensur[ing] . . . a dignified standard of living,” as required by EU Regulations (Recast Reception Conditions Directive 2013/33/EU).

Tragedy has already befallen asylum seekers in Lesvos. Two residents of Moria died in October – a five year old Syrian girl, and a 43 year old Iraqi man. While both reportedly suffered from prior medical conditions, the access to health care for asylum seekers remains appallingly inadequate.

The Greek State has received 700 million Euros to manage the arrival of refugees, and it is the obligation of the Greek State to ensure adequate standards of living and health care. However, solidarity and volunteer groups continue to be the key actors working daily directly with refugees and asylum seekers. Boat Refugee Foundation (BRF) and Emergency Response Centre International (ECRI) are the main providers of health care in the camp, and both are volunteer based organizations. Volunteer and donation based organizations such as Attika warehouse have also provided many of the tents in Moria and winter products distributed among the refugees.

2. OPEN THE ISLANDS Campaigns INitiated throughout Lesvos and Greece

As a result of the abysmal conditions refugees face in Lesvos and other Greek Islands, October saw the convergence of many different actors in the Greek islands and throughout Europe joining forces to call on the Greek government to open the islands and allow asylum seekers to travel to mainland EU. On 12 October, the Legal Centre Lesbos joined a collective of what has now grown to over 100 solidarity groups and grassroots organizations from the Greek islands, mainland Greece, and abroad, calling for urgent action from Greek government to address the untenable situation for refugees on the Greek islands. We demand that the EU government protect the rights of asylum seekers and immediately cancel the inhumane EU-Turkey deal, and allow refugees free movement rights.

On 23 October, the call to open the islands was echoed by larger NGOs and human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, who the Legal Centre Lesbos joined in issuing an additional statement recommending that the Greek state allow asylum seekers free movement throughout Greece.

Lesvos LGBTIQ+ Refguee Solidarity also published a damning report on the complete lack of protection for LGBTIQ+ refugees and asylum seekers in Lesvos. Many face continued persecution and revictimization within Moria, on the streets of Lesvos, and from Greek authorities. They also demand that the islands be opened to allow LGBTQI+ refugees to reach safety on mainland Europe.

 

3. Sappho Square Sit-In

On the 20 October, due to the insecure, inhumane conditions, many families – the majority from Afghanistan – fled Moria Refugee Camp with all of their belongings. That night they slept in the street, rather than return to Moria Camp. The next day, despite attempts by the police to block their passage, they walked to Mitilini and occupied Sapfous square in central Mitilini. The occupation of Sapfous Square appears to have happened organically without prior organization or planning, in reaction to insecure conditions that refugees face when they arrive in Lesvos and are forced to stay in Moria Refugee Camp. Since 21 October, Afghan families and Kurdish and Iranian refugees have staged a sit-in in Sappho Square. Their central demand is to be allowed free movement rights to travel throughout Greece. The demands of those occupying Sapfous Square are in line both with international law and the Greek constitution which recognize free movement rights.

Throughout the past twenty days of protest, the police continue to have an intimidating presence in and around the Square. They routinely stop Europeans who are present in Sapfous Square, asking for IDs, threatening arrest, and demanding information about what individuals are doing in Greece. The attempt to intimidate Europeans from speaking with the protesting refugees and documenting their testimonies plays into a practice throughout Europe of keeping refugees out of the public eye, in refugee camps far from urban centres, where systematic violations of refugee rights can take place with impunity.

Despite the attempts by the police to silence the protesters and solidarity groups, Greek activists and solidarity groups including from Musafarat collective against detention centers, Κατάληψη στο Μπίνειο (Binio Squat), Εργατική Λέσχη Λέσβου (Workers Union Lesvos) and No Borders Kitchen Lesvos have led solidarity actions and provided support to the protesting refugees throughout the past twenty days.

In addition to organizing to put pressure on Greek and European authorities to open the islands, the Legal Centre Lesbos will continue to monitor the police’s response to the occupation of Sapfous Square so that the right to protest is respected, and that any violation of this right is documented.

4. Memorials Held for Refugees Killed at Sea and in Lesvos

Welcome to Europe held a memorial in Thermi, Lesvos on 25 October in remembrance of the victims of Fortress Europe, who died at sea attempting to reach the safety of Europe, or who died while trapped on Lesvos.

A second memorial was held in Eftalou organized by Phillipa and Eric Kempson of the Hope Project, to mark two years since the preventable tragedy in 2015 when dozens were lost at sea attempting to reach Europe.

The Legal Centre Lesbos condemns the EU policies of exclusion which continue to arm the repressive Turkish regime, and fail to provide safe passage to individuals fleeing war, persecution and imperialist policies of economic and environmental exploitation.

5. Legal Updates

  • Asylum Seekers Whose Right to Legal Aid Was Violated Forcibly Returned to Turkey

In July and August we reported on the lack of legal aid available for asylum seekers on appeal, in direct violation of their right to legal aid on appeal under Greek Law 4375, Article 46. Two months later, the individuals who appealed the rejection of their cases without a lawyer are now being rejected on appeal and deported to Turkey. This includes one individual who was politically involved in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and faces persecution if returned there. As is the case for many sub-Saharan Africans, his claim was rejected on credibility after being interviewed by a European Aslum Support Office (EASO) “expert”. In theory, EASO does not make decisions, but issues an opinion after the interview(s) which, along with the interview transcript, forms the basis of the Greek Asylum Service decision. This is particularly concerning when it comes to determinations of credibility. Often, minor inconsistencies and a detached manner of recalling events are used to find individuals non-credible – when these are the very symptoms that a survivor of trauma might express.

The involvement of EASO experts in the Greek asylum procedure was challenged and upheld in the recent Council of State decision that found Turkey to be a Safe Third Country. However, we continue to condemn the lack of clarity regarding the extent of EASO’s mandate, particularly given ongoing concerns over the training and quality control of EASO “experts.”

As just one example of the callous institutional attitude of EASO, and the prioritisation of securitisation over upholding international human rights and refugee law, one EASO officer was overheard in a Mitilini cafe this month stating that “All Africans are lying”, and the primary role for EASO in Greece is to protect Europe from Isis.

“All Africans are lying,” - EASO Officer, Lesvos, October 2017.

Unfortunately, rejection on appeal is not limited to individuals without a lawyer and the Appeals Committee have served mainly to rubber stamp the initial decision made by the Greek Asylum Service. The recent European Commission report on implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement shows that ONLY 1 % OF DENIALS OF INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION WERE REVERSED ON APPEAL in cases made by non-Syrians from the Greek islands. This lack of effective remedy is a clear violation of asylum seekers right to access justice.

Given the large number of inconsistencies reported regarding interviews conducted and decisions made in Lesvos, these statistics are alarming and have tragic consequences for the individuals who have risked everything to reach the safety of Europe, only to be returned (via Turkey) to the countries where their lives may be at risk. Prohibitively expensive court fees and lack of sufficient legal aid actors on Lesvos has meant that asylum seekers are unable to challenge these routine violations in court and there has been no effective remedy or redress for violation of their rights.

  • Continued Detention in Violation of International Law Extended to Syrian men

The illegal practice of detention based on nationality for the duration of examination of applications for international protection continues, and has been extended to single Syrian men. This apparently is following the Council of State decision from last month which found that Turkey was a Safe Third Country for Syrians. HIAS successfully challenged the detention of three Syrian men, however, the three were released based on individual circumstances, and the general practice of detaining single Syrian men upon arrival continues.

Lawyers working with detained individuals have reported that detainees lack basic information about their rights – such as the right to appeal, and to information about their application in a language they understand. Lawyers have also reported that detained individuals do not have access to effective legal aid as police limit the amount of time detained individuals have to consult lawyers and often interrupt confidential consultations. The practice of keeping individuals in detention throughout the processing of their applications for international protection have horrifying consequences for the individuals detained, and due to limited access it is difficult to monitor the extent of violations taking place. There have been several reports of self harm and suicide attempts by individuals detained in Moria Camp. The Legal Centre has long denounced the illegal practice of detention based on nationality without individualized assessment, as this practice violates asylum seekers right to effective legal aid, and be free from arbitrary detention, and to be free from discrimination based on nationality.

  • Shifting Practices for Registration and Granting Permission to Leave the Island

During October 2017, the Greek Asylum Service changed its containment policies for asylum seekers who arrive to Lesvos. In the past several months individuals were made to wait until at least after their first interview with EASO or the Greek Asylum Service in order for their request to have geographic restrictions lifted considered. Thousands of asylum seekers are contained for months, some for over a year, on Lesvos awaiting the decision on their applications for international protection. For several weeks in October this practice shifted and individuals who were able to establish that they are vulnerable (a legal term under Greek law) at the full registration of their application for international protection were allowed to travel throughout Greece. Many of these individuals were transferred to the mainland and had their cases transferred for processing by the Greek Asylum Service in Athens and Thessaloniki.

As of the end of October, this policy has been rescinded, and once again individuals must appear for their first interview regarding their application for international protection in Lesvos before the Greek Asylum Service will consider lifting geographic restrictions.

The constantly changing policies and inconsistent and arbitrary treatment of asylum seekers has led to increased tensions within the refugee population in Lesvos as new arrivals have been allowed to leave the island and have been provided with housing on the mainland while many others face a second winter in Moria. “Vulnerability” under Greek law has been used as a criteria to lift geographic restrictions. But, as we have seen in many cases, non-visible vulnerabilities such as psychological problems and trauma frequently go unrecognised, despite being indicators of vulnerability under Greek Law 4375, Article 14(8). Moreover, while vulnerable asylum seekers are guaranteed certain safeguards and protections under Greek law, those found not-vulnerable also possess a significant bundle of legal rights which are currently being violated. All asylum seekers have the right to adequate reception conditions, to access a fair process, and to freedom of movement – all of which is being routinely violated in Lesvos, and in particular for those living in Moria Refugee Camp.

6. Legal Centre Lesbos Updates

  • Moria 35 Update

Three months after the July 18 arrests, the preliminary hearing procedure in the case of the Moria 35 has closed. A trial date has not yet been set. The three Bambara speaking defendants provided their own interpreter and agreed to be interrogated. With representation by HIAS and Legal Centre Lesbos, the three were ordered released with restrictive measures awaiting trial. With the conclusion of interrogation of all 35 defendants, the preliminary procedure now has closed and we await a trial date to be set.

While five of the 35 defendants are free in Lesvos awaiting trial, 30 have now been detained for three months, awaiting trial, despite lack of credible evidence against them.

Meanwhile, investigation of excessive use of force by the police against the 35 is ongoing. Several individuals who had filed complaints against the police for excessive use of force were visited by police while in detention, as part of the police department’s own internal investigation.

  • Legal Centre Lesbos Founder Receives Pro Bono Award

Each year since 2012, the Paris Bar organises a Pro Bono Award Competition which rewards solidarity actions led by Parisian lawyers. This year, among the thirty candidates who presented their projects, Norma Jullien, one of the co-founders of the Legal Centre Lesbos, was nominated.

On Tuesday 10th of October, the Pro Bono Award Ceremony took place in Paris and gathered nearly 400 lawyers and many representatives of the associative world. On this occasion the Henri Leclerc Prize dedicated to trainee and young lawyers has been awarded to Norma Jullien for her action in favor of the refugees of Lesbos and her work with the Legal Centre Lesbos.

After having dedicated her award to the entire team, Norma Jullien recalled the degrading and inhumane conditions in which the Moria camp population is staying, the systematic breaches of human rights they are subjected to and the crucial role of the international community of lawyers to fight these abuses.

Currently training at the Paris Bar School, Norma Jullien will be fully qualified to practice as a French lawyer next autumn 2018. Meanwhille she remains involved with the Legal Centre Lesbos from abroad as a volunteer coordinator.

Solidarity Groups call for closing “hotspots” for refugees as winter approaches

Today, 12 October, 2017, the Legal Centre Lesbos joins over 40 solidarity groups and organizations from the Greek islands, Athens, and abroad, calling for urgent action from Greek government. We also demand that the EU immediately cancel the inhumane EU-Turkey deal.
Since the EU Turkey statement came into force on March 20th 2016, thousands of refugees are trapped on the Greek islands. Last winter, six people who were seeking refuge and protection in Europe died in Moria Refugee Camp, their deaths linked to inhumane winter living conditions. We are shocked and outraged at the current situation in Lesvos as winter sets in, with approximately 5000 people living in a camp with less than half the capacity. Many refugees face their second winter living in Moria Refugee Camp.
We have joined forces with grassroots and solidarity organizations today to demand that Moria Refugee Camp and other hotspots be closed and that refugees be granted freedom of movement, so they can freely travel off the Greek islands to contintental Europe.

For our full statement and list of signatories, and to follow the campaign, please see:
#opentheislands
#winteriscoming

HEARING TOMORROW AT MYTILENE COURT FOR #MORIA35

PRESS RELEASE

35 individuals were arrested on Tuesday 18th July 2017 in Moria Refugee Camp in Lesvos, Greece, after clashes with riot police using teargas and violence, which followed the peaceful protest refugees held in the morning. The 35 refugees who were arrested in Moria Camp on Tuesday have preliminary hearings tomorrow and Saturday, the 21st and 22nd of July.

Many of those arrested were not even part of the morning’s peaceful protest or clashes between a handful of protesters and riot police, leading observers to conclude that they were arrested simply due to their race and location in the camp when raids and arrests took place. Many of the 35 were brutally beaten by the police; some still have visible injuries, many require medical attention, and one remains hospitalized. Their access to food, water and medical care has been restricted, and many remain without shoes. All 35 face exaggerated criminal charges including arson, attempted assault, resisting arrest, rioting and disturbing the public peace.

These charges carry disproportionately heavy sentences if convicted, and could result in exclusion from the right to international protection and deportation to the countries they have fled because of dangers to their life and/or liberty. There is mounting evidence of excessive use of force by the police on Tuesday, and reports of ongoing police violence against the 35 currently in custody. However, given the extremely limited number of lawyers on the island, and the 48-hour timeline, the Moria 35 face serious criminal charges without access to meaningful due process. Legal Centre Lesbos strongly condemns these arrests and the violence that preceded them.

Although the hearings are not open to the public, we call on all concerned individuals in and near Mytilene to show solidarity with the accused by being a peaceful presence outside the courthouse tomorrow and Saturday from 9am. Follow @lesboslegal on Twitter for updates.

Για τα γεγονότα στις 18-07 στο Kέντρο Kράτησης της Μόριας Λέσβου (Translated)

July Report on Rights Violations and Resistance in Lesvos

  1. Arbitrary Detention Sparks Protests in Moria and Mytilene
  2. Lack of free legal representation on appeal violates refugees’ right to due process
  3. Concerns about rise in hate crimes and discrimination in Mytilene
  4. LCL developments: LCL welcomes new Greek lawyer to team

1. ARBITRARY DETENTION SPARKS PROTESTS IN MORIA AND MYTILENE

The Greek government continues to indiscriminately detain all asylum seekers after their cases have been rejected on appeal. As denounced by the Legal Centre Lesbos, this practice is in violation of Greek, EU and international law. Applicants for international protection can only be lawfully detained as a measure of last resort under the specific circumstances set out in Article 46 of Greek Law 4375, which must be individually assessed in every case. In the past week, the practice of administrative detention in Lesvos has led to two separate protests.

Today, 13 July 2017, several detained asylum seekers, and the brother of one of those detained, enter the 16th and 15th day of their hunger strike demanding the release of everyone incarcerated in Moria Camp. Arash Hampay, the brother of one of the asylum seekers on hunger strike in prison, is a human rights activist from Iran. He joined the hunger strike in Mytilene’s public square a day after his imprisoned brother, and reports regularly on the situation of refugees in Lesvos and failure of the Greek State and UNHCR to protect those seeking refuge in Europe.

Arash Hampay, on Day 12 of hunger strike.

Among the practices denounced by Arash Hampay is the new practice of limiting refugee detainees’ access to their phones to one hour per day, and restricting access to medical care. These practices put the hunger strikers´ lives in danger and violate their right to protest. During the past two weeks of their hunger strike, the detained hunger strikers have not been visited by authorities to discuss their demands. The Mytilene police have approached Arash Hampay only to threaten him with arrest and insult him. On Saturday 8 July 2017 approximately 50 refugees marched from Moria Refugee Camp to Mytilene in solidarity with the hunger strikers, and in protest of the detention of asylum seekers. The march ended with a rally in Sappho square, the site of Arash Hampay’s hunger strike, where he made a speech denouncing the inhumane practices of the Greek and EU authorities which was translated into four different languages for the crowd that had gathered.

On 10 July 2017, a protest erupted in Moria Refugee Camp, the main refugee camp in Lesvos, where more than 3,000 refugees live in overcrowded, inhumane conditions for prolonged periods of time. The demonstration was a response to the rejection of asylum claims and systematic detention of asylum seekers in Lesvos. The police in Moria responded by attacking the crowd with tear gas. There were no serious injuries, but the containers of several NGOs caught fire and were destroyed; including the container of EuroRelief, the religious organization responsible under UN auspices for providing basic services in the Camp. Several refugees have denounced EuroRelief for collusion with the police, discrimination against and failure to protect LGBTQ+ refugees, and for prosthelatysing vulnerable inhabitants of Moria Camp. Fire trucks and fire fighters entered Moria Refugee Camp to combat the fire only after the fire had died down.

2. LACK OF FREE LEGAL REPRESENTATION ON APPEAL

Greek Law provides that “in procedures before the Appeals Authority, applicants shall be provided with free legal assistance.” Greek Law 4375, Article 44; which transposes Articles 19-23 of the EU Procedures Directive, which requires the same. As of the the last week of June 2017, however, the Greek NGO, Metadrasi, that had been providing this mandatory free legal assistance on appeal has stopped accepting new cases. Metadrasi’s contract to provide legal assistance on appeal ended at the end of June 2017, and no other legal aid provider has been contracted to fill the gap left by the departure of Metadrasi. As a result, all those whose applications for international protection have been rejected in the past two weeks are being told by Greek authorities and UNHCR that there is no lawyer available to assist with their appeal.

Under accelerated border procedures in place in Lesvos, appeals are usually examined only 10 days after an initial rejection. This leaves asylum seekers with little time to secure effective legal aid even when a free lawyer is provided, as required by Greek law. This problem has been aggravated over the past few weeks with asylum seekers unable to secure any legal assistance before their appeals are examined. This process violates asylum seekers’ right to due process, and could lead to the rejection and deportation of asylum seekers who will face persecution in their home countries or Turkey: in violation of the principle of non-refoulement and the non-derogable provisions of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture and inhuman or degrading treatment.

3. CONCERNS ABOUT RISE IN HATE CRIMES AND DISCRIMINATION

In the past week, the Legal Centre has been informed of at least three attacks by Greek nationals and the Greek police against refugees. The Legal Centre helped one refugee file a complaint with the police department after he was beaten by three Greek individuals who stopped him on the street and insulted him for being an “African bastard.” Another individual from Iran was also beaten by three Greek individuals. When he began to defend himself, the police arrived and arrested the Iranian refugee but not the Greek individuals. The Iranian national was taken to the Mytilene police station where he was beaten by the police, and charged with having assaulted the Greek nationals. In the past few weeks we have also been informed of an increase in discrimination against refugees by both Greek civilians and police officers, particularly racism against black individuals. In one reported incident, employees of Tsamakia beach, the main beach in Mytilene, refused entry to a group of black refugees, who were preparing to pay. The individuals were given no explanation for the refused entry, and believe the refusal was racially motivated. It should go without saying that discrimination based on race or national origin violates basic rights guaranteed by Greek, EU and international law.

                                                                                                                   Tsamakia beach, Lesvos

4. LCL WELCOMES NEW GREEK LAWYER TO THE TEAM

The Legal Centre is happy to welcome Greek lawyer Stefanos Mitropanos to our team. He joins the Legal Centre after several years working as an attorney in Athens and Thessaloniki, defending the rights of refugees and criminal defendants in Greek courts and in the European Court of Human Rights.