The Greek War of Independence began in 1821 and concluded in 1830 when England, France, and Russia forced the Ottoman Empire to grant Greece its independence under a European monarch, Bavarian prince Otto. He was deposed 30 years later, and the Great Powers chose a prince of the Danish House of Glucksberg as his successor. He became George I, King of the Hellenes.
At independence, Greece had an area of 47,515 square kilometers (18,346 square mi.), and its northern boundary extended from the Gulf of Volos to the Gulf of Arta. Under the influence of the "Meagali Idea," of expanding the Greek state to include all areas of Greek population, Greece aquired the Ionian Islands in 1864; Thessaly and part of Epirus in 1881; Macedonia, Crete, Epirus, and the Aegean Islands in 1913; Western Thrace in 1918; and the Dodecanese Islands in 1947.
Greece entered World War I in 1917 on the side of the Allies. After the war, Greece took part in the Allied occupation of Turkey, where many Greeks still lived. In 1921, the Greek army marched toward Ankara, but was defeated by Turkish forces led by Mustafa Kemal (later Ataturk) and forced to withdraw. In a forced exchange of populations, more than 1.3 million Christian refugees from Turkey poured into Greece, creating enormous challenges for the Greek economy and society.
Greek politics, particularly between the two world wars, involved a struggle for power between monarchists and republicans. Greece was proclaimed a republic in 1924, but George II returned to the throne in 1935. A plebiscite in 1946 upheld the monarchy, which was finally abolished by referendum on December 8, 1974.
Greece's entry into World War II was precipitated by the Italian invasion on October 28, 1940. Despite Italian superiority in numbers and equipment, determined Greek defenders drove the invaders back into Albania. Hitler was forced to divert German troops to protect his southern flank and overran Greece in 1941. German forces withdrew in October 1944, and the government in exile returned to Athens.
After the German withdrawal, the principal Greek resistance movement, which was controlled by the communists, refused to disarm. A banned demonstration by resistance forces in Athens in December 1944 ended in battles with Greek Government and British forces. Continuing tensions led to the outbreak of full-fledged civil war in 1946. First the United Kingdom and later the U.S. gave extensive military and economic aid to the Greek government. In 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall implemented the Marshall Plan under President Truman, which focused on the economic recovery and the rebuilding of Europe. The U.S. contributed millions of dollars to rebuilding Greece in terms of buildings, agriculture, and industry.
In August 1949, the National Army forced the remaining insurgents to surrender or flee to Greece's communist neighbors. The insurgency resulted in 100,000 killed, 700,000 displaced persons inside the country, and catastrophic economic disruption. This civil war left deep political division in Greek society between leftist and rightist.
Greece became a member of NATO in 1952. From 1952 to late 1963, Greece was governed by conservative parties--the Greek Rally of Marshal Alexandros Papagos and its successor, the National Radical Union (ERE) of Constantine Karamanlis. In 1963, the Center Union Party of George Papandreou was elected and governed until July 1965. It was followed by a succession of unstable coalition governments.
On April 21, 1967, just before scheduled elections, a group of colonels led by Col. George Papadopoulos seized power in a coup d'etat. Civil liberties were suppressed, special military courts were established, and political parties were dissolved. Several thousand political opponents were imprisoned or exiled to remote Greek islands. In November 1973, following an uprising of students at the Athens Polytechnic University, Gen. Dimitrios Ioannides replaced Papadopoulos and tried to continue the dictatorship.
Gen. Ioannides' attempt in July 1974 to overthrow Archbishop Makarios, the President of Cyprus, brought Greece to the brink of war with Turkey, which invaded Cyprus and occupied part of the island. Senior Greek military officers then withdrew their support from the junta, which toppled. Leading citizens persuaded Karamanlis to return from exile in France to establish a government of national unity until elections could be held. Karamanlis' newly organized party, New Democracy (ND), won elections held in November 1974, and he became Prime Minister.
Following the 1974 referendum, which resulted in the rejection of the monarchy, a new constitution was approved by parliament on June 19, 1975, and parliament elected Constantine Tsatsos as president of the republic. In the parliamentary elections of 1977, New Democracy again won a majority of seats. In May 1980, Prime Minister Karamanlis was elected to succeed Tsatsos as president. George Rallis was then chosen party leader and succeeded Karamanlis as Prime Minister.
On January 1, 1981, Greece became the 10th member of the European Community (now the European Union). In parliamentary elections held on October 18, 1981, Greece elected its first socialist government when the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), led by Andreas Papandreou, won 172 of 300 seats. In 1985, Supreme Court Justice Christos Sartzetakis was elected president by the Greek parliament.
Greece had two rounds of parliamentary elections in 1989; both produced weak coalition governments with limited mandates. In the April 1990 election, ND won 150 seats and subsequently gained 2 others. After Mitsotakis fired his Foreign Minister, Andonis Samaras in 1992, the rift led to the collapse of the ND government and new elections in September 1993 won again by Andreas Papandreou's PASOK.
On January 17, 1996, following a protracted illness, Prime Minister Papandreou resigned and was replaced as Prime Minister by former Minister of Industry Constantine Simitis. In elections held in September 1996, Constantine Simitis was elected Prime Minister. In April 2000, Simitis and PASOK won again by a narrow margin, gaining 158 seats to ND's 125. New elections must be held no later than spring 2004.
The government has succeeded in reducing budget deficits and inflation, two key factors that allowed Greece to join the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) on January 1, 2001. On January 1, 2002, Greece, along with 11 out of its 14 EU partners, adopted the euro as its new common currency. The euro is expected to boost trade, help dismantle the last remaining market barriers within the EU, and stimulate production. The Greek economy is expected to grow 3.5% in 2002 and continue at robust rates above projected EU averages. Years of austerity and reform programs, however, have increased unemployment in some sectors. Foreign investment also has dropped and efforts to revive it have been only partially successful. Greece's large general government debt is projected to drop to 99% of GDP ($135 billion euros) in 2002. Many structural problems persist and privatization of the telecommunications, banking, aerospace and energy sectors has not moved at the pace originally proposed. Services make up the largest and fastest-growing sector of the Greek economy. Tourism is a major source of foreign exchange earnings, although the industry has been slow to expand and suffers from poor infrastructure. About 12 million tourists visited Greece in 2001 with net revenues exceeding five billion euros. Industrial activity posted increases for the seventh year in a row, rising by 6.1% in 2000. Greece's food industry is expanding rapidly to support new markets in neighboring countries. High-technology equipment production, especially for telecommunications, is also a fast-growing sector. Agriculture employs about 15% of the work force and is still characterized by small farms and low capital investment, despite significant support from the EU in structural funds and subsidies. Traditionally a seafaring nation, the Greek merchant fleet totaled 5,101 ships in 2000, with 1,850 registered under the Greek flag.
Eastern Orthodox Christianity is the dominant religion in Greece and receives state funding. During the centuries of Ottoman domination, the Greek Orthodox Church preserved the Greek language and cultural identity and was an important rallying point in the struggle for independence. There is a Muslim religious minority concentrated in Thrace. Smaller religious communities in Greece include Old Calendar Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Mormons.
The German Penal Code of 1871, the Bavarian Penal Code of 1813, and the French Penal Code of 1810 have influenced the Greek Penal Code to a great extent. In addition to the Penal Code, a number of special laws exist. Most of them regulate other matters but include penal provisions as well. The violations of these special laws constitute around 80% of either police recorded crime or convictions. The judicial or administrative codes are also included in the special penal laws. These codes regulate well-defined sectors of social life. The main special penal laws are: the Military Penal Code, the Code of Market Regulations, the Code of Traffic Regulations, the Code of Customs, the enactments on drugs, on antiquities, and on the protection of the environment, laws concerning labor relations, the tax evasion Law, and the Law of the Press.
INCIDENCE OF CRIME
The crime rate in Greece is low compared to other industrialized countries. An analysis was done using INTERPOL data for Greece. For purpose of comparison, data were drawn for the seven offenses used to compute the United States FBI's index of crime. Index offenses include murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. The combined total of these offenses constitutes the Index used for trend calculation purposes. Greece will be compared with Japan (country with a low crime rate) and USA (country with a high crime rate). According to the INTERPOL data, for murder, the rate in 2000 was 2.75 per 100,000 population for Greece, 1.10 for Japan, and 5.51 for USA. For rape, the rate in 2000 was 2.29 for Greece, compared with 1.78 for Japan and 32.05 for USA. For robbery, the rate in 2000 was 16.63 for Greece, 4.08 for Japan, and 144.92 for USA. For aggravated assault, the rate in 2000 was 69.79 for Greece, 23.78 for Japan, and 323.62 for USA. For burglary, the rate in 2000 was 310.21 for Greece, 233.60 for Japan, and 728.42 for USA. The rate of larceny for 2000 was 179.65 for Greece, 1401.26 for Japan, and 2475.27 for USA. The rate for motor vehicle theft in 2000 was 161.24 for Greece, compared with 44.28 for Japan and 414.17 for USA. The rate for all index offenses combined was 742.56 for Greece, compared with 1709.88 for Japan and 4123.97 for USA.
TRENDS IN CRIME
Between 1995 and 2000, according to INTERPOL data, the rate of murder decreased from 2.75 to 2.75 per 100,000 population, a decrease of 1.1%. The rate for rape increased from 2.28 to 2.29, an increase of 0.4%. The rate of robbery increased from 15.59 to 16.63 , an increase of 6.7%. The rate for aggravated assault increased from 66.85 to 69.79, an increase of 4.4%. The rate for burglary decreased from 409.02 to 310.21, a decrease of 24.2%. The rate of larceny increased from 152.86 to 179.65, an increase of 17.5%. The rate of motor vehicle theft increased from 123.57 to 161.24, and increase of 30.5%. The rate of total index offenses decreased from 772.95 to 742.56, a decrease of 3.9%.
The national police and security services are responsible for internal security. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of all security forces. The police and security services are subject to a broad variety of restraints; however, some members of the police and security forces committed human rights abuses.
There were no reports of the arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life committed by the Government or its agents.
In October a government inquiry and an internal police council found a police officer guilty of the shooting death of Rom Marinos Christopoulous in October 2001. They recommended that the police officer be dismissed from the police force; however, he had not been dismissed by year's end.
There were no deaths resulting from terrorist activity during the year. The terrorist group November 17 claimed responsibility for 23 killings since 1975. By year's end, police had arrested 19 suspected members of the group.
The Constitution prohibits such practices, and the law makes the use of torture punishable by a sentence of 3 years' to life imprisonment; however, security force personnel occasionally abused persons, particularly illegal immigrants and Roma (see Section 5). A Report on Greece issued in May 2001 by the U.N. Committee Against Torture expressed concern about the excessive or unjustifiable use of force by police against ethnic and national minorities and foreigners. In January a policeman allegedly kicked a pregnant woman during a raid on the Apropyrgos Roma camp; she later miscarried. No disciplinary action was taken.
Yannis Papacostas alleged that he was beaten and tortured on August 18 in a police station near Athens after being arrested for a driving offense. Greek Helsinki Monitor and the World Organization Against Torture alleged, that on June 25, police tortured Nigerian national Joseph Okeke after he resisted deportation. The Ministry of Public Order announced investigations into both incidents which were not concluded at year's end.
By year's end, no one had been charged in the reported June 2001 abuse by Port Authority personnel of 164 migrants who came ashore in Hania, Crete.
After an internal inquiry into the police beating of a man in Rhodes in July 2001, no one was arrested or charged.
Roma experienced police abuse more frequently than some other groups. Amnesty International called on the authorities to conduct an impartial investigation into allegations made by Andreas Kalamiotis, a 21-year-old Rom, who claimed that he was beaten and mistreated by police in July 2001 while in custody for disturbing neighbors in Aghia Paraskevi with loud music. The Ombudsman wrote to the police in 2001 and this year to request an administrative inquiry; however, no action had been taken at year's end. By year's end, no one had been charged in the police beating of a Rom during a traffic stop in Nafplio in September 2001.
Immigrants--mostly Albanian citizens--accused police of physical, verbal, and other mistreatment (including the confiscation and destruction of their documents), particularly during police sweeps to apprehend illegal immigrants (see Section 2.d.). The severity of this problem did not diminish during the year despite legislation that extended a program to allow immigrants to regularize their status.
The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) carried out one of its periodic visits during September 2001. The committee reviewed developments concerning the treatment and detention conditions of persons held under laws concerning aliens. The CPT found that ill-treatment of detainees by law-enforcement officials was a serious problem. The ill-treatment included kicks, blows with hands, fists, batons or other objects, excessive force at the time of arrest and ill-treatment of prisoners during transfers. The CPT also found that detention conditions by law enforcement agencies varied from "acceptable" to "unacceptable." The Committee found that the principal obstacle to providing decent conditions in prisons was severe overcrowding.
In August 2000, two foreigners accused police in Crete of mistreatment while under detention. There was no investigation into or action taken in this case by year's end.
During the year, the Bureau of Internal Affairs of the Ministry of Public Order took several disciplinary measures, including dismissal and suspension, against officers involved in corruption, mainly for the forging of documents and the taking of bribes for illegal construction. During the period of October 1999 to August 2002, 1,609 complaints were filed. Most cases involved violation of duty, false certificates, abuse of power, corruption, violations with arms and explosives, illegal release of persons in police custody, pimping, and various violations relating to alien registration. Lawsuits were filed in 364 cases against 222 policemen and 202 civilians by year's end.
Local police corruption facilitated trafficking in persons.
Numerous anarchist and extremist groups attacked a wide spectrum of targets, mostly commercial property, during the year. There were occasional firebomb attacks on vehicles and commercial offices during the year.
The Constitution prohibits invasion of privacy and searches without warrants, and the law permits the monitoring of personal communications only under strict judicial controls; however, these provisions were not always respected in practice.
The Government paid $13,000 (12,041 euros), as ordered by the ECHR in 2001, to Donald Peers, whose mail was opened by officials at the Korydallos prison where he was held for drug offenses.
The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) reported that police conducted regular raids and searches of Romani neighborhoods for alleged criminal suspects, drugs, and weapons.
Local authorities evicted or threatened to evict Roma from camps and tent dwellings during the year.
The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention; however, throughout the year, the police conducted large-scale sweeps and temporarily detained, often under squalid conditions, large numbers of foreigners while determining their residence status. Some of these detentions occurred indefinitely with no judicial review. The Constitution requires judicial warrants for all arrests, except during the commission of a crime, and the law prohibits arbitrary arrest orders; the authorities generally respected these provisions in practice. By law the police must bring persons who are detained or arrested before an examining magistrate within 24 hours. The magistrate must issue a detention warrant or order the release of the detainee within three days, unless special circumstances warrant a 2-day extension of this time limit.
Defendants brought to court before the end of the day following the commission of a charged misdemeanor offense may be tried immediately, under an "expedited procedure." Although legal safeguards, including representation by counsel, apply in expedited procedure cases, the short period of time may inhibit defendants' ability to present an adequate defense. Defendants may ask for a delay to provide time to prepare their defense, but the court is not obliged to grant it. The expedited procedure was used in less than 10 percent of applicable cases. The effective legal maximum duration of pretrial detention was 18 months for felonies and 9 months for misdemeanors in practice. Defense lawyers assert that pretrial detention was exceedingly long and overused by judges. A panel of judges may grant release pending trial, with or without bail. Pretrial detainees made up 31 percent of those incarcerated, contributing to overcrowding, according to government sources. A person convicted of a misdemeanor and sentenced to 2 years' imprisonment or less may, at the court's discretion, pay a fine instead of being imprisoned. The Government paid $13,000 (5 million drachmae), as ordered by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2001, to Mohamed Dougoz, who was held in the Drapetsona detention center and Police Headquarters for several years under inhuman conditions.
The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government generally respected this provision in practice. The judicial system includes three levels of civil courts, (first instance, appeals, and supreme) and three levels of criminal courts (first instance--divided into misdemeanor and felony divisions, appeals, and supreme), appointed judges, and an examining magistrate system, with trials by judicial panels.
The Constitution provides for public trials; unless the court decides that privacy is required to protect victims and witnesses or the cases involve national security matters. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence, the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the right to present evidence and call witnesses, and the rights of access to the prosecution's evidence, to cross-examine witnesses, and to counsel. Lawyers are provided to defendants who are not able to afford legal counsel only in felony cases. Both the prosecution and the defense may appeal.
Defendants who do not speak Greek have the right to a court-appointed interpreter. According to several immigrant associations in Athens, the low fees paid for such work often resulted in poor interpretation. Foreign defendants who depended on these interpreters frequently complained that they did not understand the proceedings of their trials. Also defendants often were not advised of their rights during arrest in a language that they can understand. Several complained that they were not shown the Hellenic Police Informational Bulletin, which contains prisoners' rights in a variety of languages, and that they were forced to sign blank documents later used for their deportation.
As of year 2002, conditions in some prisons remained harsh due to substantial overcrowding and outdated facilities. As of September, 2002, the Ministry of Justice reported that the total prison population was 8,328 inmates, while the total capacity of the prison system was 5,284. In general juveniles were held separately from adults, and women were held separately from men. Pre-trial detainees were held together with convicted prisoners awaiting trials in Korydallos Prison.
The CPT found that conditions were acceptable in the Amygdaleza detention center for illegal alien women. The CPT found that the Drapetsona detention center conditions were unhygienic. The Ministry of Justice continued its program to improve prison conditions and expand capacity. Construction continued on four new prisons. During the June visit of the Commissioner for Human Rights for the Council of Europe, the Justice minister said that plans for 17 new prisons were underway but that local opposition was delaying their construction.
The Government permitted prison visits by independent human rights observers, and several took place during the year; however, it did not consistently allow visits to police detention centers.
Capital punishment has been abolished in Greece. Imprisonment is a custodial sentence, in principle between a minimum of 10 days and a maximum of 5 years. Confinement in a penitentiary may be a period between 5 years and 20 years or life. Probation has been formally introduced to Greece but is not enforced. Community service is granted on the condition that the person convicted requests or accepts the conversion. It is applied hesitantly in cases of adults. However, in cases of minorís community service is enforced effectively, within the frame of educational measures and the wide discretionary powers of the juvenile court. Custody of offenders (therapeutic institution) is a measure applied to convicts who due to mental illness cannot be punished for a criminal offense they have committed but who are dangerous to the public safety. The Greek prison system includes 27 institutions of various kinds, dispersed all over the country; all run by the central government. Officially, no distinction is made between high security and low security prisons. All closed prisons are relatively secure. Conditions in some prisons remain harsh due to substantial overcrowding and outdated facilities. As of September, the Ministry of Justice reported that the total prison population was 8,328 inmates, while the total capacity of the prison system was 5,284. In general juveniles were held separately from adults, and women were held separately from men. Pre-trial detainees were held together with convicted prisoners awaiting trials in Korydallos Prison. The CPT found that conditions were acceptable in the Amygdaleza detention center for illegal alien women. The CPT found that the Drapetsona detention center conditions were unhygienic. The Ministry of Justice continued its program to improve prison conditions and expand capacity. Construction continued on four new prisons. During the June visit of the Commissioner for Human Rights for the Council of Europe, the Justice minister said that plans for 17 new prisons were underway but that local opposition was delaying their construction.
Violence against women was a problem. The law does not specifically prohibit domestic violence. The General Secretariat for the Equality of the Sexes provided counseling and assistance to domestic violence victims. The incidence of violence against women reported to the authorities was low; however, the General Secretariat for Equality of the Sexes (GSES), an independent government agency that operated the only shelter for battered women in Athens, believed that the actual incidence is "high." According to press and academic estimates, there were approximately 4,500 cases of rape in 1999. Reportedly only 6 to 10 percent of the victims contacted the police, and only a small fraction of the cases reached trial. Conviction rates on rape charges were low for those accused for the first time, but sentences are harsh for repeat offenders. Spousal rape is not a crime.
The GSES claimed that police tended to discourage women from pursuing domestic violence charges and instead encouraged them to undertake reconciliation efforts. The GSES also claimed that the courts are lenient when dealing with domestic violence cases.
Facilities for battered women and their children often were staffed inadequately to handle cases properly, but many facilities hired new personnel during the year. Two government shelters provided services in Athens and Piraeus, including legal and psychological advice. The Secretariat operated a 24-hour emergency telephone hotline for abused women; during the summer, it conducted a campaign to publicize this service and to raise awareness of domestic violence. An interministerial committee composed of the GSES, the Ministry of Public Order, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and the Ministry of Justice, serves as an information-sharing forum on women's issues.
Prostitution is legal at the age of 18. Prostitutes must register at the local prefecture and carry a medical card that is updated every two weeks. While the number of Greek women in the profession declined, according to the police and academic sources, trafficking in women for prostitution increased sharply. It was estimated that fewer than 1,000 prostitutes were ethnic Greeks, and approximately 20,000 were of foreign origin--most in the country illegally. Most prostitutes who were arrested were foreigners who were apprehended for noncompliance with legal requirements. They were deported by plane to avoid retrafficking at land borders. Media reports implicated several police officers as participants in prostitution rings. The press alleged on a number of occasions that police accepted bribes from traffickers or pimps or forced illegal immigrants to have sex with them and then channeled them into prostitution rings. In October the Government passed a law introducing stiffer penalties for police who facilitate trafficking.
The law prohibits sexual harassment. Trade unions reported that lawsuits for sexual harassment were very rare: According to the unions, only four women filed such charges in the past three years. In all four cases, the courts reportedly imposed very lenient civil sentences. The General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) women's section reported that sexual harassment was a widespread phenomenon but that women were discouraged from filing charges against perpetrators by family members and coworkers, since they believed they might be socially stigmatized. The law provides for equal pay for equal work; however, according to official statistics in 2001, women's pay amounted to 76.2 percent of men's pay.
Although relatively few women occupied senior positions, women continued to enter traditionally male-dominated occupations such as the legal and medical professions in larger numbers. However, women still faced discrimination when they were considered for promotions in both the public and private sectors. Women also were underrepresented in labor unions' leadership. According to the women's section of the GSEE, 59 percent of the country's long-term unemployed were women, while women constituted only 38 percent of the work force. The GSES operated two regional employment offices for women in Thessaloniki and Patras. It also continued to provide vocational training programs for unemployed women and programs to reinforce entrepreneurship, subsidies to women for setting up an enterprise, information and counseling to unemployed women, and childcare facilities to assist unemployed women to attend training courses and look for a job.
The Government was committed strongly to children's rights and welfare; it amply funded a system of public education and health care. Education is free and compulsory through the ninth grade, but the legislation does not provide for enforcement or penalties. University education is public and free at all levels. New universities have opened in the provinces, along with new departments in already existing universities.
In 2001 the Ministry of Education reported that the illiteracy rate was dropping among Roma children: The school enrollment rate of Romani children increased by 17 percent, and the dropout rate decreased to 75 percent as a consequence of an identity card system, set up by the Ministry, which allowed students to change schools more easily as their parents moved. The Greek Helsinki Monitor and Panhellenic Federation of Greek Roma (POSER), the organization that represents the views of the Romani community, challenged this statistic. The idea of setting up satellite elementary schools near Romani camps was set aside in favor of the policy of integration (except for preschool centers). Ethnic Greek parents in some schools have resisted the acceptance of many Romani children.
Several government organizations had responsibility for children's issues. The National Organization for Social Care had a nationwide and regional network of offices and was active in the field of child protection; the regional offices provided greater access to child welfare services and funding, prioritized according to regional needs.
There was no societal pattern of abuse of children; however, research by the Institute for Child Health (ICH) revealed a high percentage of socially accepted physical punishment (i.e., spanking) by parents. No national data existed on the incidence of child abuse; authorities other than police are not required to report such cases. Societal abuse of children in the form of pornography was rare. Some NGOs reported child prostitution in some parts of central Athens. There were reports that foreign children were forced into panhandling.
Penal law prohibits the mistreatment of children and sets penalties for violators, while welfare legislation provides for preventive and treatment programs for abused children and for children deprived of a family environment; it also seeks to ensure the availability of alternative family care or institutional placement. There was a gradual decline in the number of ethnic Greek children in public care; however, children of ethnic minority groups (i.e., Albanians) who worked in Greece entered public care because of abuse or abandonment.
Children's rights advocacy groups claimed that the protection of high-risk children in state residential care centers was inadequate and of low quality. They cited lack of coordination between welfare services and the courts, inadequate funding of the welfare system, and poor staffing of residential care centers as systemic weaknesses in the treatment of child abuse. Athens had two municipal shelters for battered children. Child health specialists noted that the number of children in residential care facilities was decreasing, while the number in foster care was rising. With EU funding, special care was available for juvenile offenders, Romani children, children from remote mountain and island areas, and children with disabilities.
An October 2002 law criminalized trafficking in persons. The country was both a transit point and destination for trafficked women and children, primarily for sexual exploitation. Local police corruption facilitated trafficking in the country. In October the Government adopted a new anti-trafficking law, which made trafficking a specific criminal offense, imposed harsh penalties on traffickers, and called for shelters and medical assistance for victims of trafficking. The law calls for traffickers to be punished with up to 10 years of incarceration and fines of $10,000 to $50,000 (9,263 to 46,313 euros). There were harsher penalties for child traffickers. The law was still being implemented at year's end.
On December 19, 2002, police arrested eight people who they alleged were involved in the trafficking of women from the former Soviet Union, in a nine-club sweep over various parts of the country. These women, according to police officials, were lured to the country under false pretenses, and forced to work in strip clubs in the southern part of Greece. Since October there were 62 arrests of traffickers. On September 20, Attika police announced a raid on a bar in Nikaia, Piraeus, where they found ten young women from Latvia and Russia without work permits. Police discovered handcuffs, pepper spray, and electroshock devices. The raid revealed a network that was forcing women to work in the bar for 6 months in order to pay off a $3,000 (2,778 euros) fee for smuggling them into the country. In the first week of October, police arrested four Greeks who were trafficking young women from Moldova, Serbia, and Bulgaria by promising them work in Greece as waitresses. On March 28, law enforcement officials and the NGO community attended a seminar to discuss trafficking of women and children. The Ministry of Public Order also took initiatives for training new police officers to identify trafficked women and children. The Government began stiffening its border controls, in part because of European Union Schengen Treaty requirements; however, many women and children continued to be brought into the country from the Balkans and the former Soviet Union. In April 2001, an interministerial committee was formed with the objective of establishing a separate police task force on trafficking, drafting national legislation, and promoting a nationwide anti-trafficking campaign.
Trafficking in women and children for prostitution in the country increased sharply in the last few years. An academic observer estimated that approximately 40,000 women and children, most between the ages of 12 and 25, are trafficked to the country each year for prostitution. At any given time, 16,000 to 20,000 trafficked women or girls were in the country, according to unofficial estimates, although authorities estimated the number of trafficked women and children was much lower.
According to a Panteion University study, over 85,000 trafficked women and children have worked in the country in the past decade. Some women and children arrived as "tourists" or illegal immigrants; seeking work, they were lured into prostitution by club owners who threatened them with deportation. Some women and children were kidnapped from their homes by Greek traffickers, and smuggled into the country where they were "sold" to local procurers. There were reports that some victims of this practice were minors. Trafficked women and children often were confined to apartments, hotels, and clubs against their will, were not registered with the Government, and were forced to surrender their passports to their local "owner." Frequently, connections existed between illegal prostitution and other criminal activities. According to NGO observers, traffickers "owned" approximately 80 percent of the illegal prostitutes in Greece.
Local police corruption also played a role in facilitating trafficking into the country. NGOs reported that some police officers were on the payrolls of organized crime networks involved in trafficking. In 2001 a number of police officers were arrested in connection with trafficking offenses. Most arrests were in small towns, villages, and border areas. Laws were passed in 2001 that increased protection for women who press charges against their traffickers by allowing them to remain in the country legally and setting aside any previous convictions. A number of domestic NGOs worked on trafficking issues during the year. A group of NGOs created a coalition known as the "Stop Now" group, which created public service announcements to raise awareness of trafficking issues.
Greece is not a major drug producing country, but a "gateway" country. Narcotics flow into Western Europe both through Greece's porous marine borders and through land borders with neighboring countries. Heroin and hashish transit from Turkey while cannabis and other drugs transit from Albania, Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Greek authorities report that drug abuse, particularly of heroin, is increasing.
The combined factors of membership in the European Union, an extensive coastline, numerous islands and one of the world's largest merchant marine fleets make Greece an obvious route for drug transshipment from the Balkans and points east to Western Europe. As the southeastern-most member of the European Union, Greece is a convenient gateway and transshipment route for drug traffickers. Traffickers move heroin from Turkey, hashish from the Middle East, and heroin, ecstasy and marijuana from South Asia to the rest of Western Europe. Marijuana and other drugs are smuggled across Greece's borders from Albania, Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Marijuana is smuggled into Greece on pack mules across the mountainous border with Albania. Hashish is smuggled into Greece through various modes of transportation, such as by boat, on bonded "TIR" trucks, in automobiles, on trains and in buses. Although most of the drugs are destined for Western Europe, a small portion is smuggled to the US, including Turkish heroin that is traded for Latin American cocaine. Nigerian traffickers smuggle heroin and cocaine through the Athens airport, and increasingly through the Aegean islands from Turkey. Anabolic steroids are not a controlled substance in Greece. Cannabis, cultivated in small amounts for local consumption, is the only illicit drug produced in Greece. While not a major producer, supplier or transshipment point for precursor chemicals, Greece has a special customs unit that tracks and investigates chemical imports and exports. Although still comparatively small, the domestic market for drugs (particularly heroin) has grown in recent years. A study released this year by the University of Athens found that the use of narcotics has tripled in the last fifteen years. The president of the Ministry of Health's demand reduction agency, OKANA, estimates that almost 40,000 people in Greece use heroin on a regular basis. In addition to heroin, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, barbiturates, amphetamines, and locally grown marijuana are also used. OKANA opened two new facilities for methadone treatment in 1998, bringing the total number of such centers in Greece to four. OKANA treats approximately 750 addicts at these centers and works with NGO's devoted to narcotics treatment and prevention. In addition to running treatment centers for substance abusers, OKANA develops information campaigns and prevention programs. KYTHEA, which has received USG assistance, is drug rehabilitation NGO that organizes narcotics education, prevention and rehabilitation programs.
An interministerial Financial Intelligence Unit began operating in January of 1997. The Ministry of Justice developed a new prison/treatment facility located in Avlona. The facility, not yet staffed, will be devoted entirely to prisoners who are also addicts. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Unit (SDOE) of the Ministry of Finance, activated in 1997, participated in a number of narcotics interception operations. In November, 1998 SDOE officers uncovered 56 pounds of heroin aboard a cruise ship in Piraeus. As well, the Coast Guard seized 189 kilograms of cocaine and was responsible for the capture of a major drug trafficker.
The Central Narcotics Council, composed of representatives from the Ministries of Public Order, Finance and Merchant Marine, coordinates the Government's drug enforcement activities. Cooperation between U.S. and Greek law enforcement officials is excellent; the Government actively facilitates USG requests for legal assistance. Greek laws permit the seizure of assets related to drug convictions. There is no legal provision for the sharing of seized assets with other countries.
In the first nine months of 1998, Greek authorities seized 280 kilograms of cocaine and 158 kilograms of heroin, and made 8,399 drug-related arrests.
The Government's ability to devote sufficient resources to anti-narcotics training and updating of equipment is limited by a tight budget. Resources exist, when needed, to deal with emergency situations.
Some Greek officials have conceded that corruption within the police force is a problem, spurred by several highly publicized incidents (not narcotics-related) that prompted an investigation of corruption within the police force. The investigation was still underway at the end of 1998. The Ministry of Public Order renewed its commitment to open a Bureau of Internal Affairs to combat the problem. A billion drachma (approximately $357 million) package is being developed to train police and deter corruption. Local U.S. officials have no reports of corruption within the narcotics department of the police force.
Greece ratified the 1988 UN Drug Convention in 1992, and takes its obligations seriously to meet the Convention's goals and objectives relating to drug cultivation, distribution, sale, transport, law enforcement, transit cooperation, and demand reduction. Greece also passed implementing legislation for essential and precursor chemical controls. The Greek and USG exchange information on narcotics trafficking based on an agreement in force since 1928. An extradition treaty has been in force since 1932. A new Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between the U.S. and Greece was negotiated and initialed in May.
DEA has a close working relationship with representatives of the Greek Coast Guard, the National Police, Customs, SDOE and Interpol. The Embassy's Economic Section maintains regular contact with SDOE and facilitated a visit by the U.S. Treasury's FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) to SDOE in October. The U.S. Information Service (USIS) regularly distributes literature on drug prevention; in 1998 USIS gave two grants to KYTHEA to pay for American training of drug rehabilitation therapists. The USG will encourage the Greek Government to continue to participate actively in international organizations such as the Dublin Group. DEA will continue to seek funding to offer training and technical assistance to Greek officials. DEA has arranged for the Department of Defense to conduct a firearms seminar in early 1999 for police from Greece, Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Internet research assisted by Rita Zois