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Greece: progress in combating racism, but concerns remain about the impact of austerity

11 July 2016
Greece: progress in combating racism, but concerns remain about the impact of austerity

“I welcome the government’s efforts to combat racism and homophobia in Greece. The 2014 anti-racism law has consolidated the legislative framework and provided useful tools to prosecutors and police officers. However, much more is needed in order to bring this law to life and to further enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of justice and law enforcement,” said Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, at the end of his five-day visit to Greece on 8 July.

The Commissioner welcomed the prosecution of members, including MPs, of the neo-Nazi party “Golden Dawn” for being members of a criminal organisation but also for their hate speech. “Such action, as well as the government’s positive discourse towards migrants that I have noted, are very important as they send to society a clear signal of zero tolerance towards xenophobia and racism,” added Commissioner Muižnieks.

The economic crisis and austerity measures have adversely impacted the population of Greece. Certain social groups are particularly vulnerable, especially persons with disabilities whose health care and standard of living have worsened. The Commissioner visited the Dafni psychiatric hospital and noted with serious concern the increasing demand in mental health care which is coupled by cuts in the staff and budget of the health care system, due to the on-going economic crisis and austerity.

“I am fully aware of the drastic economic constraints and limited margin of manoeuvre of the Greek authorities, however I urge them and their international lenders to spare health care, in particular psychiatry, from further budgetary cuts while negotiating and designing austerity measures,” said the Commissioner.

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Photo: Council of Europe 

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