Human Rights Group Urges Crackdown on Race Crimes in Greece

CNS News, July 10, 2012

A leading human rights organization is urging Greece’s new government to take “urgent action” to curb an “alarming” increase in attacks against Asian and African immigrants, including brutal assaults by gangs on teenage boys and pregnant women.

In a 100-page report issued Tuesday, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said xenophobic attacks, including stabbings and serious beatings, in the capital Athens have increased over the past two years, leaving dozens of confirmed victims and possibly many more.

It called on the government to create a national strategy to combat race-related crime, including obligatory training for police officers, and surveillance methods used to fight terrorism.

“It is very shocking to see that scale of violence, of that frequency and that brutality in a European country . . . People face certainly the risk of an attack on a daily basis,” Judith Sunderland, the lead researcher and author of the report told The Associated Press.

“We spoke with 79 migrants and asylum seekers and out of those 59 had experienced some kind of an attack. And 51 had experienced an attack that caused actual harm. We are convinced this is the tip of the iceberg. Most people don’t report the violence . . . Undocumented migrants fear they will be arrested and deported,” she said.

Greece, suffering a fifth year of recession, is the European Union’s busiest transit point for illegal immigration. In Athens, many immigrants live crammed in small apartments in squalid conditions, in central neighborhoods that have seen a sharp rise in crime since the financial crisis began in late 2009.

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Racially-motivated attacks, including raids on immigrants’ homes and stores as well as streets assaults, have surged in the past two years, and often follow public outcry over a violent crime blamed on immigrants, the report said. {snip}

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