Human Trafficking
Street Children

Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                              

Republic of Greece

Some prisons and detention centers suffer from substandard conditions, and law enforcement personnel have at times been accused of physical abuse, particularly against vulnerable groups such as migrants and asylum seekers.

[Freedom House Country Report, 2018]

Description: Description: Description: Description: Greece

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Greece.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

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Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on prisons in Greece

European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment CPT, 2 September 2022

[accessed 2 September 2022]

The CPT concludes that far too many prisoners in Greece continue to be held in conditions which represent an affront to their human dignity. The Committee urges the Greek authorities to ensure that prisons move away from merely warehousing persons in overcrowded, dangerous and poor conditions with no purposeful activities to places which offer decent living conditions and that prepare persons for reintegration back into the community upon their release. In addition, the Greek authorities need to invest in sufficient competent staff to manage prisons and provide the requisite support to persons held in prison.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Greece

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 21 July 2021]


In April a report published by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (CPT) referenced cases of mistreatment by police, especially of foreign nationals and persons from the Roma community, a problem that is a frequent practice throughout the country. CPT also reported receiving a high number of credible allegations of excessive use of excessive force, of unduly tight handcuffing upon apprehension, and of physical and psychological mistreatment of criminal suspects during or in the context of police interviews. Some allegations involved the application of a plastic bag over the suspect’s head during police interviews, reportedly with the aim of obtaining a confession and a signed statement. None of the persons who alleged mistreatment was allowed to make a phone call or to contact a lawyer during their initial questioning by the police.


Prison and detention center conditions included severe overcrowding, insufficient security, lack of access to health care, inadequate access to food and sanitation, and inadequate supplies of resources. Prisoners alleged police mistreatment and physical and verbal abuse (see section 2.f., Protection of Refugees).

Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 12 May 2020]


Some prisons and detention centers suffer from substandard conditions, and law enforcement personnel have at times been accused of physical abuse, particularly against vulnerable groups such as migrants and asylum seekers.

Probe Finds Evidence of Torture at Nigrita

A. Papapostolou, GreekReporter, 5 Apr 2014

[accessed 8 April 2014]

All the prison guards who tortured Albanian inmate Ilia Kareli in Nigrita, Greece, have confessed and expressed regret for their actions, and asked to be released.

To hide the crime, Kareli was tortured in a cell without cameras for more than two-and-a-half hours, after which guards pretended he was conscious as they dragged him to his cell, even though they knew they had already killed him.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/GRC/CO/5-6 (2012)

[accessed 27 February 2013]

Allegations of torture and ill-treatment, impunity

10. The Committee expresses its serious concern at persistent allegations of torture and ill-treatment by law enforcement officials during arrest or detention, including in the premises of the Criminal Investigation Departments (CID). The Committee is also concerned at the limited number of such cases that have been prosecuted, the very limited number of final convictions, and the lack of sanctions due to mitigating circumstances etc, in cases where there have been convictions. The Committee notes that this does not correspond to recent decisions and rulings from international bodies, including the Human Rights Committee and the European Court of Human Rights, as well as persistent allegations and extensive documentation received from other sources. The Committee also reiterates its concern at the continued reluctance of prosecutors to institute criminal proceedings under article 137A of the Criminal Code and that only one case has resulted in a conviction under this article. In addition, the Committee shares the concern of the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture regarding the limited forensic evidence available to corroborate allegations of ill-treatment amounting to torture (arts. 1, 2, 4, 12 and 16).

The State party should:

(a) As a matter of urgency, take immediate and effective measures to prevent acts of torture or ill-treatment, including through public sensitization as well as the announcement and adoption of a policy that would produce measurable results in the eradication of torture or ill-treatment by State officials;

(b) Promptly amend its interrogation rules and procedures, such as introducing audio or videotaping, with a view to preventing torture and ill-treatment;

(c) Duly bring to trial alleged perpetrators of acts of torture or ill-treatment and, if they are found guilty, punish them with appropriate penalties which take into account the grave nature of their acts.

The EU’s Dirty Hands

Human Rights Watch, 21 September 2011

[accessed 28 January 2013]

Human Rights Watch’s observations and the testimonies we gathered on detention conditions in Evros in December 2010 were consistent with our previous reports on conditions in Greek migrant detention centers dating from 2008 and those of other organizations which have been monitoring and documenting the conditions of detention for migrants in Greece.  In a January 2011 review of these reports the ECtHR concluded:

All the centers visited by bodies and organizations that produced the reports … describe a similar situation to varying degrees of gravity: overcrowding, dirt, lack of ventilation, little or no possibility of taking a walk, no place to relax, insufficient mattresses, no free access to toilets, inadequate sanitary facilities, no privacy, limited access to care. Many of the people interviewed also complained of insults, particularly racist insults, proffered by staff and the use of physical violence by guards.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

TORTURE AND OTHER ILL-TREATMENT - Allegations of torture and other ill-treatment against individuals including members of vulnerable groups such as migrants and asylum-seekers held in immigration detention persisted. Systemic problems leading to impunity remained, including the authorities’ frequent failure to conduct prompt, thorough and impartial investigations and to ensure the right to effective remedy. In January, the European Court of Human Rights held that the rape with a truncheon of an irregular migrant by a coastguard in May 2001 amounted to torture (Zontul v. Greece). In August, the UN Human Rights Committee found that Greece failed to investigate the complaint of ill-treatment and discrimination by the police of a Greek Romani man in 1999 (Katsaris v. Greece).

In March, a Mixed Jury Appeal Court in Athens acquitted two police officers of causing bodily harm under the provision against torture in the Criminal Code to two refugees at the Aghios Panteleimon police station, Athens, in December 2004. The officers had been found guilty at first instance.

In October, serious allegations of torture of 15 anti-fascist protesters by police at the General Police Directorate in Athens on 30 September came to light. Supporters of the protesters, arrested on 1 October, also alleged that they were subjected to treatment amounting to torture at the Directorate. The authorities denied the allegations, but an investigating judge requested that the Public Prosecutor bring criminal charges against the police officers involved in the human rights violations of the protesters.


For current articles:: Search Amnesty International Website

[accessed 2 January 1, 2019]

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Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on Greece

Executive Summary, 9 April 2020

[accessed 31 May 2020]

POLICE ESTABLISHMENTS -- The CPT has been highly critical about the treatment of criminal suspects by elements of the Hellenic Police  and  remains  concerned  that,  despite  overwhelming  indications  to  the  contrary,  the  Greek authorities have to date consistently refused to accept that police ill-treatment is a serious problem in Greece. The  findings  of  the  2019  visit  indicate  once  again  that  the  infliction  of ill-treatment by  the  police, especially  against  foreign  nationals  and  persons  from  the  Roma  community,  remains  a  frequent practice throughout Greece. The CPT’s delegation received a high number of credible allegations of excessive  use  of  force  and  unduly  tight  handcuffing  upon  apprehension  and  of  physical  and psychological ill-treatment of criminal suspects during or in the context of police interviews. Alleged ill-treatment mainly consisted of slaps, punches and kicks as well as blows with truncheons and metal objects to the body and head.  It also received some allegations involving blows with a stick to the soles of the feet (falaka) and the application of a plastic bag over the head during police interviews, reportedly with the aim of obtaining a confession and a signed statement. None of the persons who alleged ill-treatment had been allowed to make a phone call or to contact a lawyer during their initial questioning by the police. Further, a great number of allegations of verbal abuse of detained persons was received, including of racist/xenophobic remarks by police officers.

Report to the Greek Governmenton the visit to Greece carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 28 March to 9 April 2019

Council of Europe COE, CPT/Inf (2020) 15, Strasbourg, 9 April 2020

[accessed 12 April 2020]

26. As  was  the  case  during  the  2015  visit,  most  prisoners  met  by  the  delegation  made  no complaints about physical ill-treatment by staff. Indeed, in all the establishments visited, staff were quasi absent from the wings and there was little contact between custodial officers and prisoners. The one exception was Nigrita Prison, where the CPT’s delegation received a number of concordant and credible  allegations of physical ill-treatment of foreign national prisoners by  some prison officers supported by external perimeter guards. For example, on Wing B2, several inmates of Algerian origin alleged that during the most recent such incident, which occurred on 13 March2019following a fight between prisoners, they had been punched, kicked and struck with plastic chairs, tables and a broomstick inside their cell by staff. The inmates also alleged that they had been subjected to verbal abuse and that the Chief Guard was present and had endorsed such behaviour. No official complaint  was  made  as  the  inmates  stated  they  were  afraid  of  being  sanctioned  with  a  transfer  to another prison. In a further incident from August 2018, four inmates interviewed separately recounted how  they  had  been  taken  to  the  disciplinary  unit  after  an  incident  on  the  wings,  forced  to  undress completely and subjected to punches and kicks by three guards belonging to the perimeter staff. They stated  that  they  spent  three  days  naked  in  the  disciplinary  cells  and  that  each  evening  they  were subjected to a similar beating. All four were visibly afraid of reprisals by the staff and hence had not attempted to make a complaint about the treatment they had suffered. There was no proper  record keeping of actions by perimeter staff intervening in the prison.

Council of Europe anti-torture committee calls for the situation of psychiatric patients to be improved, while criticising once again the poor treatment of immigration detainees

Council of Europe 2019 News, 19 February 2019

[accessed 17 May 2019]

The report highlights the systemic overcrowding in three of the five psychiatric establishments visited (Evangelismos, Gennimatas and Sotiria), with patients at Evangelismos being accommodated in the corridors. In all five hospitals visited, the CPT is critical of the lack of staff and over-reliance on pharmacotherapy, and the fact that patients were offered few activities. Another concern is the widespread practice of excessive and/or inappropriate use of mechanical restraint. The CPT also received some isolated allegations of ill-treatment (punches, tight restraints, and verbal abuse) by staff at the private “Athina Vrilissa” Psychiatric Clinic. Further, at Korydallos Prison Psychiatric Hospital, it found that the use of the basement protection cells for the seclusion of patients without supervision and for extended periods could easily be considered inhuman and degrading. Moreover, safeguards surrounding involuntary placement procedures were found to be insufficient in law and practice.

Greece: Anti-torture report highlights “totally unacceptable” detention conditions

Council of Europe, 16 Oct 2014

[accessed 21 November 2014]

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) reports today that “the problem of ill-treatment by the police appears to be growing and there is little evidence that allegations of ill-treatment are investigated promptly and thoroughly, leading to some police officers believing they can act with impunity.”

The report’s summary describes the “totally unacceptable conditions in which irregular migrants are held in police establishments all over the country for prolonged periods.”

The CPT called upon the Greek authorities to take “urgent steps to transfer detained irregular migrants to specially designed centres and to no longer hold them in police stations. The conditions of detention at the Port Authority of Igoumenitsa are also criticised.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 28 January 2013]

[accessed 4 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits torture and other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; however, security forces abused a few persons, particularly immigrants and Roma (see section 5).

At year's end no date had been set for the trial of two police officers charged with subjecting a group of Afghan asylum seekers in December 2004 to interrogation techniques that allegedly included torture. There were no developments in either the civil lawsuit against three officers or the police investigation of allegations by two Kalamata high school students that police beat them during a routine identity check in 2003. Likewise, there were no developments in the 2003 cases of two British citizens who alleged that police beat them or of three migrants who alleged police tortured them when they attempted to return to Albania.

In a letter to the Ministry of Public Order (MPO) made public in January, the deputy ombudsman for human rights noted numerous procedural and substantive shortcomings in the investigation concerning the alleged police torture in 2002 of Nigerian citizen Joseph Okeke and the alleged 2002 beating and torture of Yannis Papacostas in a police station near Athens. The deputy ombudsman called the police to re-evaluate its report on Okeke, arguing that the procedure suffered from gross errors concerning the evaluation and appraisal of the available evidence. At year's end an application based on this case was pending with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) alleging violation of the article in the European Convention on Human Rights that prohibits torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

In December the ECHR ordered the government to pay a fine of $12 thousand (10 thousand euros) to each of 2 Roma men for inhuman and degrading treatment by police in Mesolonghi in 1998. According to forensics reports, police severely beat the men during interrogation after arresting them for allegedly breaking into a kiosk. The country was found to be in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights for failure to conduct an effective investigation into an incident with possible racist motives, a violation of the procedural provision against racial discrimination.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Greece",, [accessed <date>]