The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has visited Greece in September 2008. In its report, the Committee states:
The infrastructure of the Mytilini Special Facility for Irregular Migrants had not changed since the previous CPT visit in 2007. The facility consisted of five large warehouses for male detainees and two warehouses for juveniles and women, respectively; another warehouse was in use as storage. Of the four prefabricated stand-alone units, which in 2007 had been presented to the CPT’s delegation as designated accommodation for women and children, one was being used by staff and the remaining units accommodated detainees with infectious diseases.
At the time of the 2008 visit, there were 720 detained migrants in the facility for a capacity of approximately 300. By consequence, the detention conditions were abominable, with, for instance, more than 100 persons sharing two toilets and detainees having to share mattresses or sleep directly on the floor.
Clearly, under such conditions, any attempt to maintain basic hygienic standards and, more generally, to offer acceptable social and medical care, is bound to fail. In fact, leaking toilet and shower facilities, poor ventilation, general squalor and an absence of daily outdoor exercise turn the conditions in the Mytilini Special Facility for Irregular Migrants into a health hazard for staff and detainees alike, and call for immediate emergency measures. The CPT recommends that the Greek authorities take immediate steps to provide appropriate living conditions in the Mytilini Special Facility for Irregular Migrants, in the light of the above remarks.
On detention conditions in Greece in general
The CPT must reiterate that the conditions of detention of the vast majority of irregular migrants deprived of their liberty in Greece remain unacceptable.
Detention facilities in police and border guard stations are designed to hold persons for short periods only and should never be used for prolonged detention. Even for periods of detention of a few days the material conditions, hygiene and access to medical care are unacceptable and call for radical improvement.
Both the special facilities for irregular migrants and the police holding facilities continue to suffer in many cases from the same defects identified by the Committee in its reports on the 2005 and 2007 visits. The CPT considers that the proposed new facilities in Lesbos and near Patras provide an opportunity for the Greek authorities to construct appropriately designed centres for the detention of foreigners held under Aliens legislation. Care should be taken in the design and layout of these premises to avoid the shortcomings identified at both the Petrou Ralli and Filakio facilities.
The CPT acknowledges the present significant influx of irregular migrants into Greece. However, this cannot justify the poor conditions under which many detained irregular migrants are currently accommodated. The Committee believes that much would be gained from an improved organisation and enhanced cooperation between the main actors responsible for managing accommodation and care for irregular migrants. The Filakio special facility demonstrates that when all the relevant State and local government bodies cooperate, it is possible to provide for a reasonably clean and well-maintained establishment.