On 1 April 2010, the Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Migrants and Refugees filed a criminal complaint against the squadron of the Special Unit of Underwater Operations of the Greek Coast Guard that took part in the national parade of 25 March 2010 and against any other responsible entity.
The members of the above-mentioned squadron, after having paraded in front of the platform with the officials on Syntagma Square, headed towards Panepistimiou and Agiou Konstantinou Streets in the centre of Athens and, whilst still marching in formation, chanted racist slogans against people from the ethnicities of neighbouring countries.
We have felt obliged to proceed with this move due to the failure of the Greek authorities to take the necessary measures and intervene, a failure which constitutes a direct violation of law nr 927/1979, which prohibits the public expression of racist ideas and explicitly provides for the ex officio prosecution of such crimes.
We consider it unacceptable that members of the special units of the security forces that have received special training and that are under the mandate to guard the borders including the duty to receive asylum seekers, hold such ideas and even worse express them in public during an official public appearance as a squadron on the celebration of a national day.
Such behaviour reinforces the validity of the accusations against coast guards that been made in the past, alleging ill-treatment or even torture of migrants including asylum seekers during their entry through the sea borders (see 2007 report of the Group of Lawyers in collaboration with ProAsyl: "The truth may be bitter but it must be told: the Situation of Refugees in the Aegean and the Practices of the Greek Coast Guard").
We express our deepest concern about this increase of racist expressions and incidents of violence against migrants and refugees, in particular when these acts stem from official bodies which by their mere position come in direct contact with persons from different ethnicities.
We urgently request the implementation of law nr ν. 927/1979 which has remained inactive until this date, in order to eliminate incidents of racist expression and violence.
6 April 2010
Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Migrants and Refugees