Amnesty International has accused Greece of flouting European humanitarian law by employing police brutality and torture in its treatment of detainees, particularly asylum-seekers and minorities.
In a report released on Tuesday, the campaign group referred to 66 cases of alleged human rights violations in Greece, which takes on the EU presidency in January 2003. Amnesty International is now calling on the EU to act decisively to combat abuses within its borders.
“Amnesty International believes that serious infractions of fundamental rights in one EU member state are not just the responsibility of that country, but should also be the proper concern of the EU as a whole,” Dick Oosting, director of Amnesty's EU office in Brussels, said in a statement. The group is urging the current EU president, Denmark, to put in place a system of “real accountability” to tackle human rights abuses before it hands over the reins to Greece at the end of the year.
The report echoes the findings of a similar study published in June by a coalition of European and Mediterranean human rights groups.
Meanwhile, Amnesty has also called on the EU to expose China to harsher criticism of its human rights record. It feels that the concern expressed by leading EU figures at their meeting with Chinese premier Zhu Rongji in Copenhagen this week are unlikely to persuade his regime to stop its use of strong-arm tactics to quell democratic dissent.
Amnesty claims the Union's ‘dialogue' with Beijing is “effectively a monologue, a self-serving exercise in which the EU is being taken for a ride”.
“Voicing concern at summits is just not good enough when your partner refuses to listen,” said Oosting. “It is time for the EU to strike a different balance, complementing its ‘constructive engagement' with real pressure, through public scrutiny of China's human rights record at the United Nations.”
The report argues that the international clamp-down on terrorism which followed last year's 11 September atrocities has been used as a pretext to oppress the mainly Muslim Uighur community in the province of Zinjiang. And it berates Beijing for having “by far the highest rate of executions in the world”, the heavy-handed nature of its ‘Strike Hard' anti-crime campaign, the alleged arbitrary detention of Falun Gong meditation practitioners and the reportedly systematic abuse of North Korean asylum seekers.
This article appeared in the 26 September 2002 issue of European Voice.