Category: Moria 35 Updates

The case of the Moria 35: a 15-month timeline of injustice and impunity

On Thursday 18th October, the last of the Moria 35 were released from detention. Their release comes one year and three months – to the day – after the 35 men were arbitrarily arrested and subject to brutal police violence in a raid of Moria camp following peaceful protests, on July 18th 2017.

While the Legal Centre Lesbos welcomes the fact that all 35 men have finally been released, we maintain that none of them should ever have been imprisoned to begin with –– let alone for the 10 to 15 months the majority of the Moria 35 spent in punitive, unlawful incarceration.

And while freedom from unjust imprisonment is one thing, freedom in any broader sense is a different matter. The legal status of all 35 men is precarious. Six of them have been granted asylum in Greece, but the majority are now fighting the rejection of their asylum cases; on appeal or through subsequent applications which are subject to admissibility. Three individuals have been deported. One individual was illegally deported without having exhausted his legal remedies in Greece, while another individual, having spent 9 months in pre-trial detention only to be subject to a gross miscarriage of justice at criminal trial, signed up for so-called ‘voluntary’ deportation.

Despite an abject lack of evidence against any of them, 32 of the Moria 35 were convicted of the crime of Dangerous Bodily Harm against police officers in grossly unjust criminal trial proceedings that took place in Chios in April 2018. Although their criminal conviction is being appealed, these men now live under the shadow of 26-month suspended prison sentences. By contrast, despite numerous videos, reports and eyewitness testimonies evidencing brutal police violence against the Moria 35, the public prosecutor decided to closed its investigation into police brutality in June 2018. Their basis for closing the investigation was that any use of force on the part of the police was justified, because the Moria 35 had resisted arrest. This despite the fact that all 35 men had just been found innocent on the charge of resisting arrest.

From the Greek police’s brutally violent, racist mass-arrest of these 35 men; through the grossly unjust, punitive criminal procedure that they were subject to; to their release from pre-trial detention in April only for the majority to be transferred directly into immigration detention in Moria; the case of the Moria 35 over the past 15 months constitutes a catalogue of the forms of institutional racism and gross human rights abuses with impunity that are enabled by the intersection of violent immigration and criminal justice systems in Europe. The following timeline sets these out to the best of our knowledge, with links to more detailed reports.

           

  • 18 July 2017: Police brutality and arrests

At approximately 10:00 on Tuesday 18th July 2017, refugees of different nationalities gathered in Moria for the second day in a row of peaceful protests, denouncing inhumane living conditions and demanding the right to freedom of movement for everyone trapped in Lesvos. The protest remained peaceful and calm until police arrived at around 13:00 and began to use tear gas. Many refugees were trapped outside the camp, some were trapped inside, there was confusion and inside Moria there were clashes between a handful of protesters and police officers shooting teargas and throwing rocks. By 15:00 the camp was calm. However, at approximately 16:00 several dozen riot police who had just arrived on the scene entered Moria and violently raided the African section of the camp. They pulled people out of the iso-box containers they lived in, brutally assaulted seemingly anyone they encountered including a pregnant woman, and by 16:15 had made 35 arrests. 34 of the 35 individuals arrested were black. One of the arrestees was urgently hospitalized due to severe injuries sustained at the hands of arresting officers.

=> Detailed reports, video footage, and an Amnesty International report urging investigation into police violence amounting to possible torture can be found here: https://freethemoria35.wordpress.com/media-reports/

  • 19 July: Criminal proceedings initiated

The 34 individuals who had spent the night in Mytilene police station were brought into Mytilene court in order for the public prosecutor to initiate criminal proceedings against them. The individual who had spent the night in hospital due to police violence remained in hospital. Arrestees reported having been beaten by the police again in the police station overnight. Some of the men were still bleeding from visible injuries and had been denied medical attention. Many were brought into the courthouse barefoot. Criminal proceedings against the Moria 35 were initiated by the public prosecutor, on a catalogue of identical charges:

  1. Arson with intent to endanger life – contrary to Article 264 of the Greek Penal Code
  2. Dangerous bodily harm – contrary to Article 309
  3. Damage of foreign property – contrary to Article 382
  4. Using or threatening violence to force an authority or public official to execute an act within his capacities or to refrain from a legitimate act – contrary to Article 167

=> http://www.legalcentrelesbos.org/2017/07/20/hearing-tomorrow-at-mytilene-court-for-moria35/

  • 21-22 July: Preliminary inquiry

Interrogations by the Investigating Judge took place over the course of two days. Four of the Moria 35 had this procedure postponed due to the state’s inability to produce translators in their languages. The procedure was also postponed for the individual who remained hospitalized.

There were solidarity protests outside the courthouse on both days. Many of the 35 arrested had not even been present at the morning’s peaceful protest, let alone the clashes between a small number of protesters and riot police that ensued following the police’s excessive use of tear gas. This led witnesses to conclude the arrests were arbitrary: that people were targeted because of race, nationality, and location within the camp at the time of the police raid; which itself seemed intended to collectively punish refugees for organised, peaceful resistance. There was an absolute lack of evidence against any of the Moria 35.

However, despite all this, the 30 individuals who were interrogated by the Investigating Judge were formally indicted on the catalogue of exaggerated crimes detailed above and the case was referred to trial. Many still had visible injuries and their access to food, water and medical care had been limited. Given the 48-hour window between arrests and preliminary inquiry, and the lack of lawyers on Lesvos, all 30 defendants were represented by one lawyer from the Legal Centre.

12 of the defendants filed official complaints in court against the police for excessive use of force. Many had vulnerability status and/or serious mental and physical health conditions that should have precluded pre-trial incarceration, which in any case should be a matter of last resort under both Greek and International law. Yet pre-trial detention was ordered for all 30 men pursuant to Article 282 of the Greek Code of Criminal Procedure due to the gravity of the charges and their deemed lack of appropriate address, despite all being registered residents of Moria camp.

=> http://www.legalcentrelesbos.org/2017/07/30/free-the-moria-35/

  • 25-26 July: Transfer to prisons outside Lesvos

Amidst misinformation, lack of translation and defendants’ reports of police intimidation and racism, the 30 individuals for whom pre-trial detention had been ordered were transferred from Lesvos and divided between a prison on the island of Chios, and Korydallos and Avlona prisons in Athens, which were ill equipped to deal with non-Greek speakers and made visits from friends, family and lawyers extremely difficult.

  • Late July: Preliminary inquiry

Immediately upon being discharged from hospital, the individual hospitalized for a week due to police violence faced the investigating judge. Though indicted with the same charges, he was not given a pre-trial detention order and was released pending trial – though confined to the island of Lesvos with reporting conditions.

  • September – November: Conclusion of pre-trial proceedings

The right to free trial under the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) makes it an obligation on the state to provide translation in a language a defendant understands. However, given the Greek state’s continued failure to do so in the case of 4 of the Moria 35, by the end of September, the Wolof-speaking defendant himself produced a translator and was interrogated by the Investigating Judge. By November, the 3 Bambara-speaking defendants had done the same. Thanks to arguments from the defense team coordinated by the Legal Centre and HIAS, regarding residency in Moria, health conditions, and the fact that these men had duly showed up to court once a month for as long as the state had failed to produce appropriate translators, the 4 defendants were released with restrictive conditions pending trial.

All 5 defendants – including the individual hospitalized by police violence – who had been given restrictive measures were forced to remain within the open-air prison of Lesvos, and to live in Moria camp: the very place they had been subject to brutal police violence.

=> http://legalcentrelesvos.org/2017/09/30/september-report-on-rights-violations-and-resistance-in-lesvos/ Section 5

=> http://legalcentrelesvos.org/2017/11/09/october-report-on-rights-violations-and-resistance-in-lesvos/ Section 6

  • 13 December: Pre-trial detention extended

Despite applications for release on the basis of severe health conditions being made by defense lawyers, the Municipal Court renewed the pre-trial detention conditions for 30 defendants for a further 6 months. There was no legal basis for denying the 30 defendants their right to liberty and presumption of innocence (Article 5 and Article 6(2) ECHR) by ordering pre-trial detention to begin with, particularly given that none of the defendants had previous convictions and the prison-like character of the island of Lesvos itself precludes flight. Pre-trial detention is disproportionately used against foreign national defendants in Greece. Renewing such pre-trial detention was unduly harsh and unlawful. The trial date had still not been announced.

=> http://legalcentrelesvos.org/2018/02/10/january-2018-report-on-rights-violations-and-resistance-in-lesvos/

  • Late February 2018: Trial date and location announced

The trial date was finally set for 20 April 2018, before a ‘mixed jury Court’ in Chios. There was no apparent explanation for authorities’ decision to move the trial of the Moria 35 to the island of Chios: away from the solidarity groups that had been supporting them and the many witnesses to the events on the day of their arrest present in Lesvos.

  • 14 March: Joint statement

The five members of the Moria 35 under restrictive measures on the island of Lesvos released a collective statement ahead of their trial.

[Excerpt]:

 “Our humanity has been denied since we stepped foot in Europe, the supposed cradle of democracy and human rights. Since we arrived we have been forced to live in horrible conditions, our asylum cases are not taken seriously, and most Africans are denied residency in Europe and face deportation. We are treated like criminals, simply for crossing a border that Europeans can freely cross.

Now 35 of us have been accused of rioting, destroying property, and violence, however it was actually the police who attacked us in a violent and racist raid on the African section of Moria… It was the police in full riot gear who attacked unarmed migrants with stones, batons and tear gas… It was the police who damaged property by breaking the windows and doors of the containers where we were living. Without concern for people who were inside they threw tear gas into the closed containers. They dragged people by their hair out of the containers. They beat anyone they found with batons, their boots, their fists, including a pregnant woman. It seems we were targeted only because of our skin colour – because we are black.”

 => https://freethemoria35.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/statement35en.pdf

  • 10-17 April: International solidarity

In the week running up to the Moria 35 trial there were events, protests and documentary screenings in solidarity with the Moria 35 across Europe, using the hashtag #FreetheMoria35.

The mobilisations in Greece linked the case of the Moria 35 to the case of the Petrou Ralli 8, which was on trial the week after the Moria 35 and which shared many characteristics: refugees detained in inhumane conditions in a notorious detention centre peacefully raising questions in protest at their conditions, a police response of brutal violence causing serious injury (broken bones, head injuries), followed by seemingly arbitrary arrests, indictment on a catalogue of extreme criminal charges, and dispersal across prisons in Greece for unlawfully lengthy periods of pre-trial incarceration. These cases were also linked to a further analogous case known as the ‘Moria 10’, which involved 10 individuals indicted for clashes in Moria one week before the Moria 35 arrests. The patterns of state violence and institutional racism in these cases, which shared similar timelines, were seen as evidencing the systematic nature of repression and criminalization of migrant resistance to border violence in Greece.

=> https://musaferat.espivblogs.net/en/2018/03/13/call_for_solidarity/

=> http://legalcentrelesvos.org/2018/04/16/release-of-documentary-moria-35/

=> https://www.facebook.com/pg/freemoria35/posts/

=> https://cantevictsolidarityenglish.noblogs.org/post/2018/09/07/petrou-ralli-8-a-conversation-with-the-8-of-petrou-ralli/

=> http://legalcentrelesvos.org/2018/05/10/a-second-trial-to-begin-in-chios-in-continued-criminalization-of-asylum-seekers-in-lesvos/

  • 20-27 April 2018: Trial in Chios

The Moria 35 trial finally began on 20th April 2018, before the ‘Mixed Jury Court’ on Chios. There were only 4 days of proceedings, which ended on 27th April. The Legal Centre Lesvos coordinated the defense and at trial the legal defense team was made up of 6 lawyers from the Legal Centre, Musaferat, HIAS, Lesvos Solidarity, and Aitima. All defendants were acquitted of the following charges:

Arson with intent to endanger life – contrary to Article 264 of the Greek Penal Code

Damage of foreign property – contrary to Article 382

Using or threatening violence to force an authority or public official to execute an act within his capacities or to refrain from a legitimate act – contrary to Article 167

However, 32 defendants were found guilty of the following charge:

Dangerous bodily harm – contrary to Article 309

All convicted defendants were given a 26-month suspended prison sentence.

A trial observation committee representing 6 international human rights organisations attended proceedings, and published a detailed Trial Observation Report of their findings. Greece is a party to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and is therefore obliged under international law to ‘secure to everyone within (its) jurisdiction the rights and freedoms’ contained therein. The Trial Observation Committee found gross breaches of the ECHR to have taken place in respect of the defendants in the Moria 35 trial. In brief these were as follows––

Article 3 – Prohibition of inhuman treatment

The Committee found the treatment of the Moria 35 defendants to breach the prohibitions of inhumane treatment under Article 3 ECHR. During the trial the defendants were given no breaks when they had to go to the toilet the trial continued without them. They were not provided with food by the authorities during the duration of each long trial day.

Article 6  – Right to a fair trial

The disproportionate 9 month delay that the Moria 35 were subject to between arrests and trial constituted a breach of Article 6(1) of the ECHR, particularly given that 30 of them were subject to detention conditions which should entail prioritization.

The Greek state systematically failed to provide competent interpreters in a language the Moria 35 defendants understood. This was the case from the preliminary inquiry and through the course of proceedings at trial. At no point were any of the defendants ‘informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail of the nature and cause of the accusation against him’ Article 6(3)(a) and Article 5(2) ECHR. At the trial stage, none of the defendants were accorded their right to ‘have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court’ as per Article 6(3)(e) ECHR. Translation was grossly inadequate throughout proceedings. It was not individual: there was, for example, one translator for 20 French-speaking defendants; and it was not competent: none of the interpreters were trained or professional. At one point in proceedings the English translator left and was replaced by a police officer. There was no Bambara translator provided for the Bambara-speaking defendant, who was expected to understand the Wolof translator, himself a refugee, despite not speaking Wolof.

Lack of translation restricted defendants’ other rights under the right to free trial, such as their ability to present their case, equality before the law and equality of arms. These rights under Article 6(1) ECHR were further violated at trial by the shockingly limited amount of time each defendant was given to present their testimony. The president of the court only asked three questions of each of the 35 defendants and prevented them from saying more. Despite letting the prosecution witnesses speak for 45 minutes each on average, each of the 35 defendants was only given an average of 7 minutes to speak. Some spoke for only 3 minutes. Given that all 35 defendants faced maximum prison sentences of 10 years, and that half of the minutes they were permitted were taken up with translation; this was deeply unjust. In addition, the 35 defendants shared 6 lawyers. Each lawyer was limited to 11 minutes for the multiple clients they were representing. This amounted to an average of 108 seconds of legal defense per defendant.

The report also evidences breaches of the presumption of innocence under Article 6(2) and impartiality of the tribunal per Article 6(1) ECHR stemming from the fact that there was no prosecution case against individual defendants. Evidence on individualized circumstances and alibis was not permitted. Prosecution witnesses could produce no proof of the involvement of individual defendants. In the verdict, defendants were not mentioned individually. Instead the Moria 35 were treated throughout proceedings as a “guilty group”.

Article 14 – Prohibition of discrimination

Such treatment as a “guilty group” also goes to breaches of the prohibition of discrimination under Article 14 ECHR. The Committee report raises concerns that the police raid of solely the ‘African section’ of Moria despite individuals of various nationalities having participated in protests was racially biased. Official guidelines for identification and recognition of suspects were not followed. The report cites evidence of racist remarks made by the police during arrests: “black dog”, “this is not Africa”; and racist remarks made by police officers giving evidence at trial: “they all looked much the same”. In its conclusion, the Trial Observation Committee report states that “The 35 defendants were not treated in the way other defendants are treated before the Greek courts, or in the way the ECHR specifies that defendants should be treated in Europe”.

=> http://legalcentrelesvos.org/2018/04/28/the-moria-35-trial-results-in-conviction-of-32/

=> Trial Observation Report of the Moira 35 case: http://legalcentrelesvos.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Observation-report-Moria-35-VERSION-COMPLETE-AVEC-LES-ANNEXES.pdf

  • 28 April: From pre-trial incarceration to immigration detention

Following the trial, 5 individuals who had been in prison in Avlona were transferred to Petrou Rally in Athens. 25 were transferred directly to detention in Moria, and the 5 who had been confined to Lesvos awaiting trial traveled back to the prison-like island of Lesvos. The Legal Centre took on the representation of the men in their asylum cases, with some support from HIAS.

  • 5 May: Release subject to immigration status

Only the 4 individuals among the Moria 35 who had been granted refugee status were freed from incarceration. All others were transferred from penal detention to administrative detention, with recommendations for their continued detention as asylum seekers because they were seen as a threat to public security, despite the fact that the court had granted suspended sentences for all individuals convicted.

  • 10 May 2018: Attempted deportations

The 7 individuals among the Moria 35 whose cases had been rejected on appeal were scheduled for deportation on 10th May. This despite the fact that: two of them had been denied legal representation on appeal, which is a right under Article 44(3) of Greek law 4375; none of them had exhausted their legal remedies; their criminal convictions were being appealed; and all of them had claims to residence permits on humanitarian grounds as victims and/or important witnesses to a serious crime (police brutality) that was the subject of ongoing proceedings, as per Article 19A of the amendments to Greek Law 4521 detailed in Law 4332.

However, the deportations of all 7 men were halted at the last minute thanks to a mobilization of the Legal Centre, the Free the Moria 35 campaign, interventions of the Ombudsman office and the UNHCR, and petitions to file subsequent asylum applications being made by the legal team.

=> http://legalcentrelesvos.org/2018/05/05/moria35-update-26-of-the-35-remain-detained/

  • 17 May: ‘Voluntary’ deportation

Having spent 9 months incarcerated only to be subject to a gross miscarriage of justice, one of the Moria 35 gave up on the Greek ‘justice’ system altogether, signed for ‘Assisted Voluntary Return’ and was deported to Turkey.

  • 13 June: Deportations

Another 2 of the Moria 35 were deported to Turkey on the morning of 13th June. Both men were had not exhausted their legal remedies in Greece. One individual was deported on this day despite still having the legal recourse of appealing in administrative court open to him. He had received new evidence in the form of original documents corroborating his claim for asylum or subsidiary protection. The other individual had been declaring his express desire to exercise his right to appeal the rejection of his asylum claim to police for days preceding his deportation. Lawyers had also spoken to the police department informing them of their intention to submit an appeal to the asylum service on his behalf. Yet despite this, both men were deported to Turkey and within a few weeks to their home countries.

=> http://www.legalcentrelesbos.org/2018/06/14/report-on-rights-violations-and-resistance/

  • June: Impunity in the police brutality case

Despite the fact that all of the Moria 35 had been found innocent on the charge of resisting arrest, and despite extensive evidence of police violence; in June the public prosecutor closed the investigation into the police brutality that took place on 18th July 2017, on the basis that there was a lack of evidence, and that the individuals who had submitted claims against the police had been resisting arrest so the police’s use of force was necessary.

  • May – July: Gradual release

In the months that followed the trial, 16 of the Moria 35 were gradually released. All of the individuals released within a year of their initial arrest still had pending asylum cases, either at first instance or on appeal. The 7 who remained incarcerated had cruelly had their imprisonment due to criminal proceedings seamlessly substituted for imprisonment due to asylum proceedings: one man whose case had been closed while he was in prison and unable to reopen it, and 6 who had been rejected at second instance, but had submitted subsequent applications.

  • 1 September

One of the Moria 35 was finally released, on his asylum case finally being reopened.

  • 5 September

Of the 6 of the Moria 35 who remained imprisoned in September, 2 men were particularly vulnerable. They were desperate, suicidal, and had both attempted suicide on different occasions during the 14 months they had been incarcerated. One of the individuals was quoted as saying; “We are not alive in here, so why would we continue to live?”

Both men were finally released on 5th September.

  • 9 – 18 October 2018

The final 4 of the Moria 35 were released over the course of 10 days.

 

The Legal Centre Lesvos will continue to document the institutionalized racism, impunity and gross human rights violations associated with this case, and to fight for justice for the Moria 35. The criminal convictions of 32 of the Moria 35 have been appealed. At the time of writing an appeal date has not yet been given.

…the authorities can not stop the truth from coming out about how Greece and Europe treat migrants in Lesvos. It is the violent attack by the police against African migrants which must be investigated. It is the police who must be brought to justice.”

(Statement of 5 of the Moria 35, March 2018)

Report on Rights Violations and Resistance in Lesvos

In the months since our last update on rights violations and resistance in Lesvos, our advocacy and campaigning resources were almost exclusively focused on the two trials for the Moria 35 and Moria 10 that took place in Chios in late April and early May 2018.

The situation has predictably worsened in Lesvos. On the 17 April 2018, the Greek Council of State (the highest administrative court in Greece) ruled that geographic restrictions imposed by the Asylum Service for asylum seekers arriving to the Greek islands was illegal. However, within a week, new legislation was proposed, which further limits the rights of asylum seekers and continues the practice of containing asylum seekers to the Greek islands. Moria Camp is now at three times its capacity, holding approximately 7000 individuals. Between 500 and 1000 Kurdish asylum seekers are still living outside Moria in temporary shelter provided by Lesvos Solidarity – Pikpa, and Humans 4 Humanity, as they fear for their safety in Moria. Procedures are now so delayed that even individuals who are recognized as vulnerable, and whose cases should be prioritized under Article 51 of Greek Law 4375, are being scheduled for their interviews nearly a year after their arrival. This means that they are prohibited from leaving the island of Lesvos, and are denied freedom of movement during this entire time.

In one case we are following, an eleven year old child has a serious, undiagnosed digestive condition that causes her constant pain and seizures. Because they have been unable to diagnose her illness, the hospital in Mytilene has referred her for testing and treatment in Athens. Even the Mytilene police department has recommended that geographic restrictions be temporarily lifted so that she can travel to Athens for further tests and treatment, but the Regional Asylum Office has denied this request without an appointment in the Athens hospital. Her family is now in a constant state of fear that given her critical condition, their daughter will be unable to receive emergency medical care when needed, given the lack of testing and treatment for her on the island. Already once, when she had seizures and attempted to get treatment at the hospital in Lesvos, she was not admitted because they do not have means to treat her.

The Green Party published a report on 6 June 2018 exposing the inhumane conditions that systematically violate refugee rights in the Greek hotspots. On the 1 June 2018 the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) also published preliminary observations of its visit to detention facilities in Greece from 10 to 19 April 2018, with damning findings.

Treatment of Moria35 defendants highlights lack of procedural safeguards for detained asylum seekers in Lesvos

In the last month and a half since the conclusion of the Moria 35 trial, we have been closely following the administrative process related to the detention and processing of the asylum claims of these individuals. It has become a near full time job of our Greek attorney based in Mytilene to ensure that Greek authorities comply by their own laws and respect the rights of these asylum seekers. Despite the fact that the UNHCR, the Ombudsman’s Office, and the Legal Centre have been closely monitoring their cases, there have been rampant violation of their rights at every step of their procedures. Unfortunately despite this close monitoring, two individuals were deported to Turkey on the morning of 13 June 2018. The violations we have observed in the individual cases of these 35 men highlight the lack of procedural safeguards to protect the rights of asylum seekers, particularly those who are being detained.

Below we outline some of the observed violations of Moria 35 defendants’ rights as asylum seekers:

  • Two individuals whose cases were rejected were denied the representation of a lawyer on appeal. The appeal of a rejected asylum claim is the one stage in the asylum procedure where asylum seekers have the right to a lawyer, under Article 44(3) of Law 4375. Although both requested the representation of a lawyer, the examination of their case on appeal occurred without them having been assigned an attorney.

  • Another individual signed for voluntary departure, but then changed his mind and decided to continue his claim for international protection. He requested that his case be reopened. While that request was being processed, he was placed by police on the list to be deported on the 1 June 2018. It was only after advocacy from the Legal Centre that he was removed from the deportation list. He remains in detention, despite the lack of legal grounds to hold him there.

  • Another individual was held for over a month in detention, after transfer to Lesvos following the trial in Chios. There was no recommendation for his continued detention either from the Regional Asylum Office, as required by Article 46(3) of Law 4375. After daily follow up from the Legal Centre, eventually the police admitted that they were holding him by mistake and he was released.

  • Two additional individuals had their asylum cases rejected, but were unable to appeal because they were detained. With advocacy from UNHCR and Legal Centre lawyers, one of the individuals was able to lodge his appeal. However, he remains in detention, and it is not clear if the Appeals Committee will review his case on the merits or deny the appeal as untimely filed.

  • The second individual was deported on the morning of 13 June 2018. This was despite the fact that for days he had been expressing to the police his desire to appeal the rejection of his asylum claim. Lawyers from HIAS and the Legal Centre also spoke with the Mytilene police department the day before he was deported and informed the police that they would be filing an appeal on his behalf. On the morning of 13 June 2018, he was deported to Turkey. This individual, a Guinean national, claims that he was a victim of torture, and will be subject to persecution if returned to his country. Regardless of whether his claim is credible, he has the right to appeal the rejection of his claim. Even though untimely, it is not the police who have the authority to accept or reject his appeal, but the Asylum Service. His right to appeal was clearly denied, and his deportation was illegal as police were aware that he would be appealing the denial of his claim and they proceeded with the deportation in any case.

  • A second Moria 35 defendant was also deported on the 13 June 2018. His case had been rejected in the second instance. In 2017 this Ghanean national had been rejected and scheduled for deportation, but he lodged a subsequent application. It was the denial of this subsequent application that led to his deportation. While the Regional Asylum Service again scheduled for him to file a subsequent application on 14 June 2018, on 11 June 2018, we were informed that they would not accept a second subsequent application, since he had already submitted a subsequent application in 2017. However, he still had the option of appealing the denial of his claim in administrative court. Less than two days after being informed that he could not file a subsequent application, he was deported to Turkey. This individual has recently received original documents from Ghana that were not previously submitted to the Asylum Office. These documents corroborate his claim that he will be imprisoned 10-15 years if returned to Ghana. Prison conditions in Ghana according to human rights reports are “generally harsh and sometimes life threatening due to physical abuse, food shortages, overcrowding, and inadequate sanitary conditions and medical care” meaning he should be eligible for subsidiary protection, if not refugee status. Both individuals that were deported on the 13 June 2018 are also eligible for humanitarian protection as important witnesses to a serious crime that is still being investigated in Greece (the brutal police attack against the 35 arrestees on 18 July 2017). The swift move of the police to deport these individuals show that while procedures to grant protection and ensure that refugee rights are respected are constantly delayed, the State is able to mobilize and act swiftly to deny these same rights.

The trampling of the rights of these individuals by the police has followed their brutally violent arrest, their unjust prosecution, and lengthy imprisonment in the case of the Moria 35. It is not clear if the police have targeted these individuals precisely because they were part of the Moria35 case, or if the violation of detained asylum seekers rights is systematic. What is clear is that there is a lack of sufficient transparency, oversight, and monitoring of detention and deportation practices.

Legal Centre Successes

Despite this hostile environment, we continue providing legal aid and individual consultation to all foreign nationals who seek our counsel. We conduct approximately 10 individual consultations daily, and through the assistance of our volunteer lawyers and interpreters, hundreds of individuals have been granted international protection in Greece, or have successfully had geographic restrictions lifted so they can legally travel to mainland Europe.

We also continue to have success in assisting individuals in reuniting with family members in second European States under the Dublin III Regulation. In one case, a single young man from Haiti who is seriously ill was approved to be reunited with his family in France. While in Haiti, he had attempted to apply for a visa to join his parents and younger siblings in France, but was denied because he was over 18. France finally admitted, through our advocacy, that he was dependent on the care of his family, and that he should be able to join them in France. The fact that this individual was forced to take a lengthy, expensive, and dangerous journey to Europe through Turkey and the use of smugglers, only to be later admitted as an asylum seeker in France, shows that European immigration policies are broken.

We will continue our work to assist and help navigate individuals through this broken system, and to monitor and expose the violations of these individuals’ rights when they occur.

 

Moria 35 Trial Ends in Conviction of 32 – But After 9 Months of Unjust Detention, the 35 will Finally be Free!

PRESS RELEASE

While all 35 defendants should soon be released from detention, a gross miscarriage of justice took place today at the Mixed Jury Court in Chios, Greece where a ruling of guilty was declared against 32 of the 35 defendants. The 35 were arbitrarily and violently arrested in Moria camp in Lesvos on 18 July 2017 following what started as a peaceful protest outside of an EASO office. This inherently unsafe verdict, reached despite an overwhelming lack of evidence, follows a week long trial which continuously violated fundamental principles of a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights and brings into serious question the impartiality of both the Judges and Prosecutor in the case.

Ελληνική έκδοση παρακάτω

32 of the 35 defendants were found guilty of injury to public officials, but acquitted on all other charges. The three individuals detained by a firefighter outside Moria Camp were found innocent of all charges; the testimony against them discredited as inconsistent and lacking credibility as the firefighter misidentified the defendants in court.

While the evidence against the remaining 32 defendants was similarly inconsistent, the three judges and four jurors unanimously found the 32 guilty. This ruling was reached without the prosecutor proving the necessary elements of the crime: there was only evidence of superficial injuries to one police officer, and there was no credible evidence identifying any of the 32 as having assaulted any police officer. Police witnesses testified that all 32 defendants arrested inside Moria Camp were guilty simply because they were present in the African section of the camp after clashes between some migrants and riot police had ended. Confirmation by the court that guilt can be implied by race and location near to where alleged crimes took place sets an extremely dangerous precedent for arrests following riots and protests.

The defense witnesses included residents from Mytilene and Moria Camp, who  confirmed that Moria Camp was never evacuated, that people freely entered and exited the camp throughout the afternoon through back entrances and that the camp was calm for roughly an hour before the arrests took place. Many defendants testified about their participation in the protest calling for freedom of movement from Lesvos to mainland Greece, an end to unjust asylum procedures on the island, and against deplorable conditions in Moria. They explained that police responded violently, dispersing the protestors with excessive use of tear gas. Others testified that they entered Moria camp after it was calm, only to find themselves violently arrested during the police raid. The excessive police violence was confirmed in the trial through medical documentation of injuries to defendants, video evidence of the arrests, and the testimony of several witnesses and defendants. The public prosecutor in Mytilene has already opened an investigation against unknown police officers for causing serious bodily harm to 12 of the 35 defendants.

The trial in Chios was fraught with serious procedural problems, including an absence of interpretation for the majority of the trial and the severely limited time the defendants and defence witnesses were given to present their side of the story.  An International delegation of legal observers were present throughout the trial and will be publishing a report regarding their assessment regarding its fairness in due course.  

It defies all logic, despite shocking video footage of police attacks against the defendants; and police witnesses unable to positively identify any of the 35 in court, that 32 were found guilty.

This ruling comes only four days after the 23 April 2018 arrests and criminal charges brought against 122 individuals – mostly Afghan – who had been peacefully protesting in Mytilene and were viciously attacked by fascist militant thugs before being arrested by the police. We are extremely concerned that the decision of the Chios Court will further encourage the State to continue criminalizing those who resist the State’s hostile policies against them.

The guilty verdict has been appealed by the 32, who were given a 26 month suspended prison sentence. This sentence itself is unreasonable as it is 19 months longer than the recommended 7 months proposed by the prosecutor at the conclusion of the proceedings.

As the 32 found guilty are eligible for a suspended prison sentence, the good news is that after nine months of unjust detention awaiting trial, the 35 will finally be freed.

Legal Centre Lesvos – a team of International and Greek Lawyers, Interpreters and Volunteers.  For more info contact info@legalcentrelesbos.org or +30 695 507 4724

*******

Αν και οι 35 κατηγορούμενοι θα αφεθούν ελεύθεροι σύντομα, έλαβε χώρα σήμερα μια κραυγαλέα κακοδικία στο Μικτό Ορκωτό Δικαστήριο της Χίου, όπου οι 32 από τους 35 κατηγορούμενους βρέθηκαν ένοχοι. Οι 35 είχαν συλληφθεί βίαια και αυθαίρετα στο κέντρο της Μόριας στην Λέσβο στις 18 Ιουλίου 2017 στο πλαίσιο επεισοδίων που ξεκίνησαν ως μια ειρηνική διαμαρτυρία έξω από τα γραφεία της Ευρωπαϊκής Υπηρεσίας Υποστήριξης για το Άσυλο (EASO). Αυτή η εγγενώς επισφαλής απόφαση, η οποία λήφθηκε παρά την συντριπτική έλλειψη αποδεικτικών στοιχείων, υπήρξε το αποτέλεσμα μιας δίκης που διήρκεσε μια εβδομάδα και στο πλαίσιο της οποίας σημειώθηκαν συνεχείς παραβιάσεις θεμελιωδών αρχών δίκαιης δίκης, όπως αυτή προβλέπεται στο άρθρο 6 της Ευρωπαϊκής Σύμβασης για τα Δικαιώματα του Ανθρώπου και θετεί σημαντικά ερωτήματα για την αμεροληψία. τόσο των δικαστών όσο και της εισαγγελέως της έδρας.

32 από τους 35 κατηγορούμενους κρίθηκαν ένοχοι για τετελεσμένη σωματική βλάβη εναντίον αστυνομικών αλλά απαλλάχθηκαν από κάθε άλλη κατηγορία. Οι 3 εξ αυτών που πιάστηκαν από πυροσβέστη εκτός του κέντρου της Μόριας κρίθηκαν αθώοι για όλες τις αξιόποινες πράξεις για τις οποίες κατηγορούνταν. Η μαρτυρία που δόθηκε εναντίον τους δεν θεωρήθηκε αξιόπιστη καθώς ο πυροσβέστης προέβη σε εσφαλμένη αναγνώριση προσώπων κατά την ακροαματική διαδικασία.

Αν και τα αποδεικτικά στοιχεία εναντίον των υπολοίπων 32 κατηγορουμένων εμφάνιζαν παρόμοιες ασυνέχειες, οι 3 δικαστές και οι 4 ένορκοι έκριναν ομόφωνα ότι και οι 32 είναι ένοχοι. Αυτή η απόφαση ελήφθη χωρίς να έχει αποδείξει η εισαγγελέας ότι πληρώθηκαν τα απαραίτητα στοιχεία του εγκλήματος: υπήρχαν μόνο στοιχεία που καταδείκνυαν ότι υπέστη ελαφρά σωματική βλάβη ένας από τους αστυνομικούς και δεν υπήρχαν πειστικά στοιχεία από τα οποία να προκύπτει ότι οι συγκεκριμένοι 32 κατηγορούμενοι επιτέθηκαν σε αστυνομικό. Οι αστυνομικοί που κατέθεσαν ως μάρτυρες κατηγορίας, δήλωσαν πως οι 32 που συλλήφθησαν εντός του κέντρου της Μόριας ήταν ένοχοι απλώς επειδή ήταν παρόντες στο Αφρικανικό τμήμα του κέντρου αφού είχαν λήξει τα επεισόδια μεταξύ κάποιων μεταναστών και της διμοιρίας των ΜΑΤ. Το γεγονός ότι το δικαστήριο επικύρωσε με την απόφαση του το σκεπτικό ότι η ενοχή μπορεί να συναχθεί λόγω φυλής και τοποθεσίας κοντινής σε αυτήν όπου έλαβαν μέρος τα φερόμενα εγκλήματα θέτει ένα εξαιρετικά επικίνδυνο προηγούμενο για την σύλληψη στο πλαίσιο επεισοδιών και διαδηλώσεων.

Στους μάρτυρες υπεράσπισης περιλαμβάνονταν κάτοικοι από την Μυτιλήνη και το κέντρο της Μόριας, οι οποίοι επιβεβαίωσαν ότι το κέντρο δεν εκκενώθηκε ποτέ, ότι οι άνθρωποι εισέρχονταν και εξέρχονταν του κέντρου ελεύθερα καθ ΄όλη την διάρκεια εκείνου του απογέυματος μέσω των εισόδων στο πίσω μέρος του κέντρου και ότι στο κέντρο επικρατούσε ησυχία για σχεδόν μια ώρα πριν ξεκινήσουν οι συλλήψεις. Πολλοι κατηγορούμενοι κατέθεσαν ότι συμμετείχαν στην ειρηνική διαδήλωση, διεκδικώντας ελευθερία κινήσεως από την Λέσβο προς την ελληνική ενδοχώρα, να λάβει τέλος η άδικη διαδικασία ασύλου στο νησί και βελτίωση των συνθηκών στην Μόρια. Όπως εξήγησαν, οι αστυνομικοί ανταποκρίθηκαν βίαια, διασκορπώντας τους διαδηλωτές με υπέρμετρη χρήση δακρυγόνων. Άλλοι κατέθεσαν ότι εισήλθαν στην Μόρια όταν επικρατούσε ήδη ηρεμία, για να βρεθούν βιαία συλληφθέντες κατά την επιδρομή της αστυνομίας. Η υπερβολική χρήση βίας από τους αστυνομικούς επιβεβαιώθηκε κατά την διάρκεια της δίκης μέσω ιατρικών βεβαιώσεων των τραυμάτων που υπέστησαν οι κατηγορούμενοι, βιντεοληπτικό υλικό των συλλήψεων και την κατάθεση πολλών μαρτύρων και κατηγορουμένων. Η εισαγγελία της Μυτιλήνης έχει ήδη κινήσει την διαδικασία έρευνας κατά αγνώστων αστυνομικών για την πρόκληση σοβαρών σωματικών βλαβών σε 12 από τους 35 κατηγορουμένους.

Η δίκη στην Χίο έβριθε διαδικαστικών προβλημάτων, συμπεριλαμβανομένης της απουσίας διερμηνείας για το μεγαλύτερο κομματί της δικής καθώς και του ιδιαίτέρως περιορισμένου χρόνου που δόθηκε στους κατηγορούμενους και τους μάρτυρες υπεράσπισης να παρουσίασουν την δική τους σκοπιά των γεγονότων. Μια διεθνή αποστολή νομικών παρατηρητών ήταν παρούσα κατά την διάρκεια της δίκης, η οποία έχει ανάλαβει την εκπόνηση εντός του προσεχούς μέλλοντος μια αναφοράς σχετικά με το αν τηρήθηκαν κατά την ακροαματική διαδικασία τα εχέγγυα δίκαιης δίκης.

Αψηφά την λογική το γεγονός ότι παρά την ύπαρξη βιντεοληπτικού υλικού στο οποίο φαίνονται επιθέσεις αστυνομικών κατά των κατηγορουμένων και παρά την αδυναμία των αστυνομικών που κατέθεσαν ως μάρτυρες να αναγνωρίσουν οποιονδήποτε από τους 35 κατηγορούμενους στο δικαστήριο, οι 32 βρέθηκαν ένοχοι.

Αυτή η απόφαση ελήφθη 4 ημέρες μετά τις συλλήψεις της 23ης Απριλίου 2018 και τις συνακόλουθες προσαγωγές 122 ατόμων – κυρίως Αφγανικής καταγωγής – οι οποίοι διαδήλωναν ειρηνικά στην Μυτιλήνη και δέχθηκαν βίαιες επιθέσεις από ένοπλους φασίστες κακοποιούς προτού συλληφθούν από την αστυνομία. Ανησυχούμε ιδιαίτερα ότι η απόφαση του δικαστηρίου της Χίου μπορεί να αποτελέσει πάτημα για το κράτος να συνεχίσει να ποινικοποιεί τις διαδηλώσεις ανθρώπων που αντιστέκονται στις εχθρικές πολιτικές που υιοθετεί το κράτος εναντίον τους.

Οι 32 κατηγορούμενοι στους οποίες επιβλήθηκε ποινή φυλάκισης 26 μηνών έχουν ασκήσει έφεση κατά της απόφασης. Η ίδια η ποινή είναι παράλογη καθώς υπερβαίνει κατά 19 μηνές τους 7 μήνες που πρότεινε ως ποινή η εισαγγελέας κατά το πέρας της διαδικασίας.

Καθώς η ποινή των 32 υπόκειται σε αναστολή, το θετικό νέο είναι ότι μετά από εννέα μήνες άδικης προφυλάκισης ενώ περίμεναν να εκδικαστεί η υπόθεση, οι 35 θα αφεθούν επιτέλους ελεύθεροι.

Legal Centre Lesvos –  Για περισσότερες πληροφορίες επικοινωνήστε με το info@legalcentrelesbos.org ή το τηλέφωνο +30 695 507 4724

January 2018 Report on Rights Violations and Resistance in Lesvos

Violations of Rights Exposed at Europe’s Borders

At the close of 2017 in the period since our last report, the inhumane treatment of migrants in Lesvos continues to be widely reported on and denounced by refugees and migrants, solidarity activists, the media, and human rights organizations. In response to this pressure, in November and December roughly 3000 asylum seekers were transferred from Lesvos to mainland Greece and Crete. However during the same time period approximately the same number of individuals arrived to Lesvos from Turkey.

Whilst the number of arrivals decreased somewhat in January, as a result of rainy, windy, and cold weather, an estimated 7000 migrants are still living in Lesvos. As recently reported by Amnesty International, for those trapped on the island, conditions remain unbearable; in violation of the right to adequate housing, health care, and freedom of movement. The European Union continues to blame Greece for the conditions in the hotspots. However, inhumane and crowded conditions are ensured so long as movement from the Greek islands to mainland Europe is prohibited for the majority of asylum seekers – something that has been enforced since the EU-Turkey Statement in March 2016.

Europe continues to measure success of the EU-Turkey deal in terms of curbing the total number of arrivals to Europe, but in effect this means that more individuals are stuck in unsafe and inhumane situations on the frontier of Europe – in Lesvos, but in even greater numbers in countries at Europe’s borders such as Turkey and Libya. As has been shown throughout history, halting migration is impossible, as borders will inevitably be crossed and individuals will continue to migrate in search of refuge.

Thirty-Year-Old Man Drowns Attempting to BOARD FERRY to ATHENS

The tragic consequences for individuals denied safe passage were seen this month in Lesvos as on 1 February 2018, an unidentified man’s body was found in the port of Mytilini. It was presumed that he drowned, having died 10 days earlier. The body was identified by authorities as that of a Moroccan man who had registered for international protection in Lesvos in July 2017.

Whilst he is yet to be formally identified, given that his friends have not been permitted to see his body, they believe that the man found was actually Saihi, a 30 year old Algerian, who ten days earlier had attempted to swim to climb aboard a ferry bound for Athens. His friends believe he registered his nationality as Moroccan because he feared that the authorities would discriminate against Algerians. However, even though registered as a Moroccan he found no protection in Greece. Even in death, his family is being denied the right to bury him and mourn appropriately; his body still lays in the Mytilini morgue due to their inability to pay the fees to expatriate his body to Algeria.

Saihi had recently celebrated his thirtieth birthday with friends and after over six months trapped in Lesvos he decided to take his chances to leave the island. Tragically, the dangerous journeys people make to reach Europe do not end when they reach Lesvos. Although they are in Europe, since the EU-Turkey deal, people who arrive to the Greek territories from Turkey are prohibited from leaving the islands until the lengthy asylum procedure has completed. If rejected, they face deportation to Turkey, where rights are systematically denied and where non-Syrians face certain imprisonment and likely deportation to their home countries.

Saihi was one of many people trapped on the island who risk their lives attempting to reach the European continent. As he did not have legal status in Greece, he was denied assistance by NGOs. He was left on his own in Lesvos; staying in an abandoned house in Mytilini, without electricity, water, or any aid apart from food assistance provided through No Borders Kitchen. He had left Moria Camp approximately four months earlier, to get away from the unsafe environment where police violence and daily fights are routine. Employment opportunities in Lesvos are limited even for Greeks, and it is even more difficult for foreigners to support themselves given language barriers and discrimination. Many individuals trapped in Lesvos living either in the inhumane conditions of Moria Camp or on the streets and abandoned houses of Mytilini self-medicate with horribly addictive prescription drugs, such as the insomnia medication Flunitrazepam (commonly known as “Bubli”). Prescriptions for these drugs are illegally sold in the open in Moria Camp and the parks of Mytilini under the eye of Greek police, who rarely intervene. Saihi was one individual who self medicated in order to build up the courage to face the swim to board the ferry to Athens.

Instead of investigating the rampant sale of drugs to desperate migrants and refugees who have few options for survival in Lesvos, the Greek police operate an unchecked campaign of discrimination and violence against such marginalized persons. Systematic racial profiling by the police who regularly ask individuals for proof of their legal status means a life of constant stress, in particular for individuals denied protection by the Greek government and assistance by NGOs.

In Lesvos, assistance provided by many humanitarian NGOs is linked to legal status, in direct contrast to established humanitarian principles, such as a commitment to provide assistance with impartiality,

which requires that it be provided solely on the basis of need and in proportion to need. This reflects the wider principle of non-discrimination that no one should be discriminated against on any grounds of status.

Mercy Corps International, for example provides cash assistance only to those who the Greek government has designated as asylum seekers or refugees. This means that humanitarian aid is provided only when the Greek government legitimizes an individual’s presence in Greece. Individuals whose applications have been rejected in the second instance and individuals who have not made an application to the Greek Asylum Service (often due to delays in the processing of applications) are unable to receive this aid, regardless of their need. Similar requirements for UNHCR coordinated housing and other services prevent many individuals in need from being provided housing outside Moria Camp, in shelters run by other NGOs.

Saihi’s death is a tragic consequence of Europe’s illegal policies of exclusion and containment. While they are not responsible for their creation, humanitarian NGOs must do more to distance themselves from such policies and instead adhere to the principles of impartiality and independence if they are truly nongovernmental and humanitarian.

Arbitrary Detention in Lesvos Continues

In January 2018, the so-called “pilot” program to detain throughout the asylum procedure individuals from low recognition rate countries officially ended. Since its initiation, The Legal Centre has denounced the practice of detention based on nationality as illegal. While we welcome the end of this policy, Greek Authorities continue to arbitrarily detain individuals on arrival.

The police enforcing the detention, justify such action based on the individual’s responses during their initial registration, citing that these individuals have applied for international protection “in order to delay or frustrate the enforcement of a return decision”. While this is one of the legal grounds for detention under Greek Law, this reasoning is being used to detain individuals immediately upon arrival in Greece, before they have even completed their initial registration.

While the stated reason for detention has changed, it seems that detention is still largely based on nationality, given that most of those detained upon arrival are from countries where the majority of citizens are denied international protection.

Further frustrating judicial review of these decisions, individuals are often detained without a written comprehensive order from the Police Director, stating “complete and comprehensive reasoning” for the detention, as required by Greek Law 4375, Article 46(3). The lack of such an order makes it difficult for individuals and lawyers alike to legally challenge the decision in court.

Additionally, Greece continues the practice of detaining individuals who have requested “voluntary” return to their home countries. Many individuals spend months in detention after they make the difficult decision to give up on their hope of receiving protection in Europe.

Under Greek and international law, asylum seekers cannot be detained simply because “he/she entered irregularly and/or stays in the country without a legal residence permit,” and detention should be enforced “exceptionally and if this is considered necessary after an individual assessment under the condition that no alternative measures” can be applied. [Greek Law 4375, Article 46]. While we condemn the containment policy as a violation of individuals’ right to freedom of movement, when most asylum seekers in Lesvos are in any case prohibited from leaving, there is no legal excuse for keeping individuals in detention upon arrival on the closed island of Lesvos, or when they are coerced into returning to their home countries.

Legal Centre Updates

Moria 35+2

Six months have passed since the police violently raided the African section of Moria Camp, and a trial date still has not been set for the Moria 35. On the 13 December 2017 the Municipal Court renewed for another six months the pretrial detention for the 30 defendants currently detained awaiting trial. This is despite petitions by the Legal Centre and Solidarity Now attorneys to release individuals with severe mental and physical health conditions. Since their arrest on 18 July 2017, these men have now been imprisoned for over six months, without any credible evidence against them.

Furthermore, it has been confirmed that two individuals arrested in Lesvos in the weeks following the 18 July raid of Moria Refugee Camp face identical criminal charges as the 35 originally arrested. These two men have been released with restrictive measures and continue to live in Lesvos. It is expected that they will be scheduled for trial together with the original 35.

While they are not in an official prison, the seven defendants who were released with restricted measures are still in an open air prison, restricted to Lesvos island and many still live in the militarized and inhumane Moria Refugee Camp; the same place where they were brutally attacked by the police on 18 July 2017. They are marginalized and have limited access to health care and humanitarian aid, making their life extremely difficult. Many still suffer health problems that were caused or aggravated by the police violence against them, and have ongoing health needs that they do not have funds to pay for. They are in a state of limbo, denied aid from organizations like Mercy Corps, because their asylum claims have been rejected in the second instance, yet they are prohibited from leaving the island (even if it were to return to their home country) due to the ongoing criminal case against them.

Despite the lack of justice found in the Greek court to date, there has been a growing solidarity movement to support these men and demand their freedom, as activists from around Europe have learned of their unjust arrest and continued detention.

At the Legal Centre, we have also launched a successful crowd funding campaign to both raise awareness and funds to ensure an effective legal defense.

Funding Updates

The Legal Centre continues to operate with the exclusive support of individual donations and entities that are not complicit in human rights or environmental abuses. Our ethical funding guidelines allow us not only to maintain our independence, but through our funders we have also begun to build relationships with solidarity organization outside Lesvos, in particular in Barcelona. We have renewed funding from both Fons Catalá and Fundación Heres for 2018, and received support from ASIC La Garriga‘s December fundraising campaign.

Thanks to this funding we are now are able to support a small team of two full time Greek attorneys, three part time interpreters, and a full time coordinator. Volunteer lawyers and legally trained individuals continue to serve as caseworkers in the Legal Centre and provide invaluable assistance to ensure that the Legal Centre can continue to have an open door policy and provide individualized consultation to any migrant in Lesvos who seeks our legal assistance. In 2017, through advocacy of our volunteers, interpreters, and lawyers, hundreds of Legal Centre clients were granted refugee status, subsidiary protection, and permission to leave Lesvos for the European continent.

CROWDFUNDING: Help us defend 35 Refugees denied of their human rights

 

Legal Centre Lesvos is urgently raising funds to provide effective legal defence for Refugees facing criminal charges following a peaceful protest in Moria Detention camp in Greece.

Help us defend their human rights.

About the campaign

On 18 July 2017, police violently raided the overcrowded open-air Moria Detention camp on the island of Lesvos in Greece, arbitrarily arresting 35 individuals – the vast majority of African-origin or descent.  This, in response to a peaceful protest earlier that day by Refugees of all nationalities for freedom of movement and against inhumane camp conditions, which was also met by police brutality, outside the EU Asylum Office. Many of those arrested were not even present at the protest.

To highlight the seriousness of this case and the extent of police violence, Amnesty International have called on Greek authorities to immediately investigate excessive use of force amounting to possible torture.  An investigation has now been opened into dangerous bodily harm committed by unknown police officers.

The Moria 35 each face criminal charges which may lead to up to 10 years in prison, exclusion to the right to international protection and deportation to countries they fled.

Who are Legal Centre Lesvos and how can we all help?

Legal Centre Lesvos works on the expertise of a small International and Greek team of professionals and volunteer international lawyers and law students.  Hosted in the Mosaik Refugee Support centre in Lesvos, we provide free Refugee legal support.  We are not government funded and every resource goes towards those at the heart of our project.

Having represented 34 of the 35 defendants at their initial hearings, Legal Centre Lesvos led the creation of a criminal defence team of Greek lawyers, continues to represent six defendants, and is now helping to coordinate the work of the criminal defense team. The trial is expected for early 2018.  We are urgently raising funds to cover the costs of legal representation, associated administrative and court fees and a team of independent trial observers to ensure international oversight and accountability in this highly politicised trial.

With limited time remaining we must urgently raise £10,000 to help achieve justice for the Moria 35.

Please consider donating to help us achieve the target.
We also need you to share:  Be our voice!