Greece

Status: Civil society discussions

In Greece, there is no public policy in place for human rights defenders. Rather, NGOs and human rights defenders are hindered by many restrictive laws and face attacks by government officials. According to ENNHRI, the Greek National Human Rights Commission adopted a bill on the “Recognition and Protection of Human Rights Defenders”, but this bill has not been included in any government discussions to date.[1]

Civil society organisation (CSOs) and human rights defenders (HRDs) in Greece face strong limitations to their work. In particular, human rights defenders working on the rights of refugees, migrants, asylum seekers and social inclusion are targeted by legal restrictions such as Laws 4636/2019 and 4686/2020 which require them to be approved and registered by the Ministry on Migration and Asylum before carrying out their work. Civil society has addressed this issue through contributions to UN Special Mechanisms and by publishing a joint statement in 2020, but no steps have yet been taken to improve the protection of human rights defenders and their work in Greece. The situation of human rights defenders is monitored namely by the National Human Rights Commission and the Racist Violence Network.

Like all countries worldwide, the situation in Greece is monitored by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders. The Special Rapporteur received a reply to their call for inputs from Greek NGOs concerning her annual report of 2022 on human rights defenders working on the rights of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers. The situation in Greece is also highlighted within the Rapporteur’s thematic report on human rights defenders fighting corruption.

Greece is also monitored by the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). In the last report of 2022, no mention was made of human rights defenders. However, six recommendations were received and supported by the government of Greece to improve the protection of human rights defenders in Greece through the creation and improvement of public policies. This should signify that action will be taken in the coming four years, before the next review.

Civic space in Greece is classified as “narrowed” by the 2022 CIVICUS monitor, which means that the full exercise of the right to defend human rights is “impeded by occasional harassment, arrest or assault of people deemed critical of those in power”. Concerns include court cases against human rights defenders, excessive force against protesters and an increased number of SLAPPs (Strategic lawsuits against public participation) used against human rights defenders.


[1] For the moment, we haven’t found the document nor a statement from the Greek National Human Rights Commission to confirm this. If you have more information, please send an email to focus@protectioninternational.org

Updated on 12/01/2023

Hellenic Republic. National Comission for Human Rights
2022
Following the call for inputs by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in Greece in...