A compilation of extracts featuring child-rights issues from the reports submitted to the second Universal Periodic Review. There are extracts from the 'National Report', the 'Compilation of UN Information' and the 'Summary of Stakeholder's Information'. Also included is the final report and the list of accepted and rejected recommendations.
Greece - Twenty Fifth Session - 2016
II. Developments since the previous review in background of the country – promotion and protection of human rights on the ground
Main developments since the first cycle
3. During the last six years, Greece has been experiencing a severe economic crisis, which is an aspect of the broader crisis affecting many European countries. The policy frameworks aiming at responding to the crisis consisted to a large extent in the adoption of austerity measures, following negotiations with the institutions involved, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The impact of the economic recession has been significant, resulting in social upheavals and threatening the disruption of the social fabric. GDP fell by 25%, the unemployment rate reached 24,6%, youth unemployment 49,5% and child poverty 28,8%. Also, since 2008 the material deprivation index has been significantly increased and it is higher than the EU average; material deprivation does not concern only the population at poverty risk, but also part of the non-poor population. The NCHR has consistently drawn the attention of national authorities and international stakeholders to the need to respect human rights during the implementation of the fiscal and social exit strategy from the debt crisis. In its latest statement, dated 15.7.2015, the NCHR stressed that the relevant rules of the international or European mechanisms involved cannot circumvent the obligation to respect international and European human rights law, which is binding on all States participating in such mechanisms. CSOs have also pointed out the adverse impact of the economic crisis on the enjoyment of human rights, in particular of those belonging to the most vulnerable sectors of the society (unemployed, persons with disabilities, older persons, children etc.) and the capacity of the authorities to fulfill human rights. Since January 2015, the Government has adopted measures to tackle the “humanitarian crisis” affecting the most disadvantaged groups of the population (see infra, paras. 15 et seq.). Greece is currently implementing an Agreement reached with its partners in August 2015 and is striving, while implementing the Agreement, to offset the recession trends and to protect the rights of those in the most vulnerable situations, working towards creating a new production model based, inter alia, on respect for and protection of labor, and the redistribution of the tax burden. The abovementioned Agreement contains a commitment to initiate a substantial debate on how to deal with the problem of the sustainability of the Greek public debt, an issue critical to the course of the Greek economy.
National action plans (recommendation 84.9)
7. Moreover, a National Action Plan on the Rights of the Child is being elaborated, under the coordination of the General Secretariat of Transparency and Human Rights, with the participation of all sectors of the Administration involved and the Children’s Ombudsman. The plan will be submitted to public consultation with civil society actors.
National human rights institutions (recommendation 84.9)
9. The National Commission for Human Rights has been very active, during the reporting period, in discharging its tasks. In particular, the NCHR has adopted, since 2010, a number of recommendations to national authorities and international stakeholders on the adverse impact of the economic crisis on the enjoyment of human rights, focusing both on the national and the European dimensions of the crisis. The NCHR has also paid particular attention to the fight against racism. In addition, it has adopted recommendations and reports on a wide variety of issues, including the right to water, protection of children’s and older persons’ rights, gender identity, citizenship, etc. The work and the recommendations of the NCHR are very often referred to in the reports of universal and regional human rights mechanisms and the decisions and judgments of quasi-judicial and judicial bodies. The competent authorities take duly into account the recommendations of NCHR in the legislative and administrative procedure. Moreover, a recent legislative amendment has further strengthened the NCHR in the accomplishment of its mission.
Cooperation with NGOs and civil society (recommendations 83.16, 83.75)
11. The competent authorities cooperate with NGOs and civil society organizations in a number of fields, in particular the protection of refugees and asylum seekers, including unaccompanied children, assistance to persons in vulnerable situations due to the economic crisis, fight against trafficking in human beings, promotion and protection of women’s and children rights, etc. NGOs are consulted in the preparatory stage of significant legislative initiatives, such as, recently, the law on the “civil partnership pact”, which has been extended to same-sex persons. Moreover, the Racist Violence Recording Network, consisting of 38 NGOs (see paras. 5 and 45) participates in the National Board against Racism and Intolerance and the Working Group on Racist Violence. Finally, six of the most representative NGOs are members of the National Commission of Human Rights.
Rights of persons with disabilities (recommendation 83.4)
21. In the field of education, recent reforms have focused on making the educational system more inclusive. Measures were put in place to ensure that digital educational material was accessible to all students with disabilities or learning difficulties. Special education is available in mainstream schools that had been fitted with appropriate support structures, as well as in special schools. Home teaching programmes are available where necessary. The Greek Ombudsman, however, has expressed concerns about the persistent challenges which relate mainly to the lack of resources (funding and staffing). Benefits and pensions as well as financial reliefs are provided to people with disabilities. The development of supported living housing aims to develop an alternative accommodation in the community for people with intellectual disabilities, avoiding institutionalization and social exclusion, improving their autonomy and social integration.
22. The Greek Ombudsman and CSOs have expressed concerns about children in institutions and have stressed the need to reform the legal framework, to ensure effective monitoring and supervision, as well as the promotion of alternative forms of child care. To this end, the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Social Solidarity has undertaken a serious commitment to take all necessary measures for the transition from impersonal institutional settings to community-based services in order to support deinstitutionalisation. The Ministry is collaborating with the Children’s Ombudsman, CSOs and the European Commission’s Structural Reform Support Service, in order to assure that the transition is sustainable.
23. Taking into consideration the UN Guidelines for Alternative Care, the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Social Solidarity is preparing a legislative reform, expected to be delivered by the end of 2016, that focuses on establishing common quality standards for the alternative care of children and promoting foster care and small facilities providing residential care organized around the rights and needs of the child, whilst developing preventive strategies to avoid family separation through community based support services. Moreover, children are among the target groups included in the NSSI. CSOs have also stressed the need for systematic data collection on children living in institutions and for a standardised mechanism to investigate allegations of abuse. They have also advocated the abolishment of private adoptions.
(recommendations 83.76, 83.77, 83.78, 83.79, 83.80, 83.81)
32. The protection of human rights of unaccompanied minors (UAMs), who have entered irregularly the Greek territory, is considered as a matter of utmost priority. In the First Reception Centers, UAMS, upon their arrival, are identified, registered and provided with health care treatment and psychosocial support. They are then referred to the Prosecutor for the appointment of a guardian and placement in an open accommodation facility. The National Centre for Social Solidarity (EKKA) is tasked with processing accommodation requests for UAMs. Since 2012, the number of such requests has tripled, reaching more than 2,390 children. The capacity of the accommodation facilities has recently increased with the addition of 94 beds. According to CSOs, the challenges faced by UAMs are more pressing on the islands, due, inter alia, to the lack of adequate accommodation facilities and the difficulties encountered in locating relatives of the children. The Greek Ombudsman has also stressed the need for acceleration of family reunification and asylum procedures involving UAMs and the need for systematic data collection. CSOs have also advocated the abolishment of minors’ detention in any case (even as a last resort).
33. The UNHCR and NGOs closely cooperate with the competent authorities and provide to unaccompanied minors all the necessary information about their rights, as well as their access to legal services during their stay in Greece.
34. Despite the considerable efforts of the Greek State, serious challenges remain, such as the malfunction of the institution of guardianship. More specifically, the Public Prosecutors, designated by law as provisional guardians, cannot exercise themselves the rights and obligations of a guardian, due to the limited resources and the great volume of work. For all these reasons, the relevant legislative framework is under review. The Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights is elaborating a national action plan on children’s rights, which will focus, inter alia, on the protection of unaccompanied children.
Integration of migrants (recommendation 83.84)
38. It is also to be noted that Law 4332/2015, amending law 4251/2014, facilitates the acquisition of Greek citizenship by second generation immigrants, setting out criteria related with the enrolment in primary and secondary schools.
Trafficking in human beings
(recommendations 83.13, 83.33, 83.34, 83.35, 83.36, 83.37, 83.83, 84.12, 84.13)
61. The main priorities of the NRO are to improve and widen the scope of the country’s identification regime, so as to involve more partners in first-level identification of victims and to increase the number of identified victims (i.e. to develop THB training in the First Reception Services, the Asylum Service, border & coast guards, labor inspectors, hospitals, supply chains), as well as to establish a systematically updated database of victims. The NRO has recently established the National Referral Mechanism, a platform for inter-agency cooperation, managed by the National Centre for Social Solidarity, on issues such as sheltering, compensation and safe return for the victims, and a Permanent Consultation Forum with civil society to ensure better cooperation among different stakeholders and better coordination of the available services offered by them. To address demand for labor trafficking, the NRO cooperates with the Labor Inspectorate for the implementation of trainings to labor inspectors. The NRO has also signed a MOU with the private sector that commits major private sector stake-holders to ‘slave-free’ supply chains. Furthermore, awareness-raising of the general public is an intrinsic part of Greece’s anti-trafficking policy. A number of NGO projects, supported by the NRO, have gained access to schools to engage students in human rights education. Moreover, the NRO has recently launched several ongoing public awareness initiatives through the cultural sector. In this context, the NRO has organized a major transmedia festival under the title ‘Break the Chain’ in cooperation with international organizations and local counterparts.
62. Protective measures for children/unaccompanied minors have been implemented by various stakeholders. Various shelters operated by the State or NGOs offer protection to children that are in danger, including those who are victims of trafficking. Especially for children in danger, a number of helplines operate on a 24-hour basis (the National Helpline for Children “1107” by the National Center for Social Solidarity and the Helpline “1506” as well as the Hotline for Missing Children “116000” operated by NGOs). More generally, victims of trafficking receive psycho-social support, psychotherapy, medical care and legal representation or assistance for voluntary repatriation. The support continues to transition period towards their social rehabilitation.
Accountability of law enforcement personnel
(recommendations 83.38, 83.40, 83.41, 83.42, 83.46, 83.91, 83.44, 83.43)
70. It is to be noted that the teaching of human rights is included, at all levels, in Police Schools’ curricula. Further education programs, lectures, seminars, etc., are also regularly organized.
Protection of freedom of religion οr belief (recommendations 83.53, 83.54, 83.64, 84.15)
81. The Government and the regional or municipal authorities are aware of the request, by representatives of a cultural association in Thessaloniki, to have a mosque opened there. This is being examined also within Greece’s broader policy and programmes on the restoration and use of Islamic monuments in the Greek territory during the Ottoman era. Last year, students of the Hayriye Koranic School (madrasah) of Komotini visited the Yeni Cami Μοsque in Thessaloniki and organized there a Muslim prayer. Furthermore at the same mosque a prayer was organized on the occasion of the festivities for the Seker
81. The Government and the regional or municipal authorities are aware of the request, by representatives of a cultural association in Thessaloniki, to have a mosque opened there. This is being examined also within Greece’s broader policy and programmes on the restoration and use of Islamic monuments in the Greek territory during the Ottoman era. Last year, students of the Hayriye Koranic School (madrasah) of Komotini visited the Yeni Cami Μοsque in Thessaloniki and organized there a Muslim prayer. Furthermore at the same mosque a prayer was organized on the occasion of the festivities for the Seker Bayrami/Eid al-Fitr, in August 2013. Moreover, the city of Thessaloniki has authorized the use of the same mosque for the celebration of the end of Ramadan in 2014.
Rights of persons belonging to minorities (recommendations 83.55, 83.61, 84.17)
85. Law 4115/2013 made possible, for the first time, the teaching of the Holy Koran in Greek public schools in Thrace, on an optional basis, to minority students, who continue to show a clear preference for the public educational system. The Koran teachers are selected through a transparent and inclusive procedure, chaired by the local Mufti, in which participate eminent Muslim personalities. The abovementioned preachers have the right to freely choose whether to join this scheme and enjoy an enhanced status, with social security benefits. Law 4115/2013 does not affect the status of Imams in Thrace, who are selected in accordance with the Islamic law, the traditions and practices of the Muslim minority, without any State interference, and freely exercise their religious duties.
86. The adoption of law 4310/2014 was a major step in the effort to ensure quality education to the members of the Muslim minority in Thrace. More specifically, the law ensures that the teaching positions of the minority programme of minority schools will be occupied exclusively by members of the Muslim minority, to be adequately trained at the Department of Primary Level Education at the University of Alexandroupolis. Thus, teachers of the minority educational programme in minority schools will have, in addition to the skills and knowledge that the teachers of public schools have, sufficient expertise in the language and in the Muslim religion that such position requires. Obviously, the abovementioned teachers are entitled to appointment in any public schools across the country.
Promotion and protection of the rights of the Roma (recommendations 83.62, 83.63)
89. The situation of Roma in Greece continues to present challenges to the authorities, as documented, in particular, by the Greek Ombudsman, the NCHR and CSOs. Inadequate housing conditions, risk of poverty and social exclusion, high school dropout rates are, according to different stakeholders, among the main problems faced by the Roma population, which have been exacerbated by the economic crisis.
90. To address these challenges, and in the EU framework, Greece launched the National Strategic Framework for Roma in 2011, aiming at combating discrimination and social exclusion of the Roma by adopting or further developing a comprehensive approach to Roma integration in the areas of access to education, employment, health care and housing. Twelve out of thirteen Regions of Greece have developed Regional Strategies for Roma Integration, focusing on the specific needs of the Roma in their territories. Furthermore, all the Regional Operational Programs incorporated the investment priority “Socio-economic inclusion of marginalized communities such as the Roma”.
91. More specifically, in the field of housing, the development and improvement of basic infrastructures in Roma settlements forms the main measure promoted so far; the relevant actions, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, have benefited 20,000 persons. A database of Roma settlements, to be systematically updated by all local authorities, is currently being prepared. It is clear that the State has not designed and does not implement a policy of forced evictions. With regard to employment, projects such as "Local Employment Pacts" and "Local Integrated Interventions for vulnerable groups" ran between 2013-2015 and involved either actions addressed exclusively to Roma persons or integrated actions between Roma and other vulnerable groups, benefiting 883 Roma persons. Moreover, Support Centers for Roma and other vulnerable social groups provide a net of services such as counseling and supporting families, vocational training, promotion of public health, health education and access to primary health services, as well as horizontal actions for removing stereotypes against Roma. In the field of health, the project “Health for the Greek Roma” ran between 2005-2013 and provided medical examinations, inoculations and psycho-social support services through visiting camps or mobile units of the Disease Prevention Centre (KEELPNO).
92. In the field of education, the Ministry of Education has continued to implement special programmes, taking into consideration the particular needs of the Romani population and the prejudice or exclusion that Roma children might face during their schooling. The main axes of the Roma education policy are reflected in the program “Education of Roma children”. Moreover, at the beginning of every school year, a Circular is issued by the Ministry reminding all Heads of School Units of their obligation to enrol Roma pupils in Primary Schools. However, there are still some cases of Roma pupils attending de facto segregated schools. The Ministry of Education is committed to continuing its efforts to include Roma children in all levels of education and to overcoming the existing difficulties.
93. It also to be noted that Roma families with low income can benefit from an annual allowance for every child enrolled in public school of compulsory education which can be granted to them only at the end of each school year, upon submission of a certificate of regular school attendance.
IV. Key national priorities, initiatives and commitments that the State concerned has undertaken and intends to undertake to overcome those challenges and constraints and improve human rights situations on the ground
96. Among the main priorities of the Government in the field of human rights are the following: ...
to finalize the Action Plan on the Rights of the Child; key priorities in this field include addressing the effects of the economic crisis on children, enhancing the protection of unaccompanied minors, modernizing family law to further safeguard the best interests of the child, etc.; ...
as regards correctional policy, to stabilize prison population within prison capacity levels, to improve detention conditions, restructure the provision of health care, strengthen services for drug addicted prisoners and for the social reintegration of released prisoners, further develop correctional staff training, enhance the use of alternative to custody measures and develop a comprehensive system for the penal treatment of juveniles and youth in the community; ...
I. Background and framework
A. Scope of international obligations
1. International human rights treaties
1. In 2012 and 2013, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee against Torture encouraged Greece to ratify ICRMW.
2. In 2012 and 2015, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights encouraged Greece to ratify OP-ICESCR.
3. In 2012, the Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that Greece ratify OP-CRC-IC and the ILO Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189).
4. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reiterated the recommendation from the first universal periodic review cycle that Greece ratify the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. The Committee on the Rights of the Child also recommended ratification of that Convention.
5. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) strongly encouraged Greece to ratify the Convention against Discrimination in Education.
B. Institutional and human rights infrastructure and policy measures
Status of national human rights institutions
8. The Committee on the Rights of the Child appreciated the activities undertaken by the Children’s Rights Department of the Ombudsman and recommended that Greece ensure the continuity of the mandate of the Department by providing it with adequate financial resources.
9. That Committee noted with concern that the National Observatory for the Rights of Children, which had been established in 2001, was still not fully operational and that its coordinating role had not been properly defined.
A. Equality and non-discrimination
14. The Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern that schools kept records on the religion of students, that religion was mentioned in leaving certificates and that requests for exemption from religious classes were not always granted.
16. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was concerned about persistent discrimination against persons with immigrant backgrounds and Roma, particularly in employment, education, health care and housing.
17. The Special Rapporteur on migrants recommended that the Government initiate a strong public discourse on social diversity and inclusion,44 conduct public campaigns on racism and xenophobia and include human rights education and awareness-raising in the educational curriculum of public schools.
18. The Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern at persistent discrimination against Roma children, children of Turkish origin, children belonging to the Muslim community of Thrace, and children from groups identifying themselves as belonging to the Macedonian minority.
19. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was concerned about the social exclusion and vulnerability of women belonging to the Muslim community in Thrace, Roma women, migrant women and rural women.
20. The Human Rights Committee noted with concern the discrimination faced by persons with disabilities, in particular with regards to access to education, employment and health services. The Committee on the Rights of the Child made related recommendations concerning children.
B. Right to life, liberty and security of person
31. The Committee on the Rights of the Child was concerned about reports that children with disabilities at the Children’s Care Centre in Lechaina were living under inhumane and unacceptable conditions, including that they were systematically sedated and subject to such practices as being tied to their beds, and that cage beds were used, owing to a shortage of staff.
32. That Committee recommended that Greece develop and implement a national strategy for children living and/or working on the streets, aimed at prevention, support and social integration, as well as holistic programmes for children in street situations.
33. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights remained concerned at the incidence of child labour, including forced begging and informal and dangerous work on the streets, and that children in such situations were exposed to exploitation and trafficking in persons.
36. The Committee on the Rights of the Child was concerned at the persistent criminalization of begging by children. It urged Greece to decriminalize begging by children while taking steps to ensure that such a change would not be exploited by adults.
C. Administration of justice, including impunity, and the rule of law
40. The Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that Greece strengthen its efforts, including in respect of legislation, to ensure that children’s views were heard and taken into consideration in all judicial, administrative and other decisions affecting them and in accordance with the child’s age and maturity.
44. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention observed that, despite the constitutional provision establishing limits for pre-trial detention, accused persons often spent relatively long periods in such detention, even several years. It found that this was one of the main reasons for the serious overcrowding witnessed in Greek prisons, which had become a chronic problem.78 The Working Group recommended that the Government reform the judicial system to guarantee that all persons in pretrial detention received a fair and speedy trial;79 consider the possibility of decriminalizing certain offences, reducing prison sentences, and applying non-custodial measures in order to combat the severe overcrowding in prisons and the inappropriate utilization of police stations to hold detainees for periods beyond 72 hours;80 and significantly improve detention conditions and procedural safeguards, and develop appropriate regulations for all detention facilities, in accordance with international human rights standards.81 The Committee on the Rights of the Child made similar observations in relation to children.
46. The Committee on the Rights of the Child was concerned that children 15 years of age might be held in custody and that a penal sentence of 10-15 years could be imposed upon them.
D. Right to privacy, marriage and family life
50. The Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern that a persistent number of Roma children were still unregistered and that some children were registered only with their parents’ last name, and that the line for the first name remained blank, with an abbreviation “AKO” (awaiting baptism).
52. The Committee expressed its concern at the widespread use of institutionalization and the low rate of foster care in Greece,90 and noted with concern that, in the context of the current crisis, an increasing number of children were removed from their families or were placed in institutions because the parents no longer had the means to support them.
G. Right to social security and to an adequate standard of living
67. The Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that Greece design public policies aimed particularly at addressing, both in the short term and in a sustained manner, the problem of increasing child poverty.
H. Right to health
70. The Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, stated that a basic package of health-care services should be made available to all, irrespective of social insurance affiliation, at zero or near-zero cost. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was concerned about the severe impact of the financial crises on the health system, especially in the mental-health sector, which had led to a decrease in health expenditure and critical understaffing of the health system. The Committee on the Rights of the Child was concerned that the right to health and access to health services was not respected for all children, with regard to the fact that some health services had to be paid in cash and in advance.
71. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was concerned at the rising number of HIV/AIDS cases and a stark increase in the number of people dying of HIV/AIDS. The Committee urged Greece to promote education on sexual and reproductive health and rights, especially targeting adolescent girls and boys, in order to foster responsible sexual behaviour, and prevention of early pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV-AIDS. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights noted with concern the increase in the number of HIV infections reported among injecting drug users.
I. Right to education
73. The Committee on the Rights of the Child welcomed the issuance of the new circular 6/23/2010 on the right of every single child living in Greece to enrol in school, regardless of residence status. The Committee expressed concern at the persistence of the limited access of Roma children to school, their limited enrolment and segregation in schools.118 The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights noted positive measures, such as the education priority zones project, and recommended that Greece take measures to increase the attendance rates of Roma students and their retention in school by, inter alia, providing sufficient comprehensive measures to cover education-related expenses and raising awareness of the importance of education among Roma families.119
74. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was concerned at the very low level of school attendance and the high dropout rates among Roma and migrant girls and those belonging to the Muslim minority in Thrace. The Committee recommended that Greece ensure equal access for girls and women to all levels of education in all regions, and for girls of all minority groups, including through temporary special measures.120
75. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was concerned at reports indicating that only 15 per cent of children with disabilities went to school.
K. Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers
UNHCR noted the recommendations from the first universal periodic review on the protection of unaccompanied minor immigrants. It also noted that, despite some improvements, such protection remained severely defective, particularly because, inter alia, no authority had been assigned full competency for the oversight of issues related to them and for coordination between authorities. The establishment of a procedure for the determination of the best interests of the child remained unaddressed. The Human Rights Committee expressed concern over the dificulties faced by Greece in assigning guardianship and in determining the age of unaccompanied minors. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention indicated that the Government should refrain from detaining unaccompanied children and families with children.
I. Information provided by the national human rights institution of the State under review accredited in full compliance with the Paris Principles
1. The Greek National Commission for Human Rights (GNCHR) recommended that Greece ratify the International Convention on the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW); the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (OP-ICESCR); and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure (CRC-OP-IC).
4. GNCHR welcomed the National Human Rights Action Plan, the National Action Plan for Children’s Rights, the Integrated Action Plan for the Social Inclusion of the Greek Roma, as well as the Revised National Action Plan on the reform of the asylum system and migration management, but was concerned at the absence of a national action plan against racism. It stated that national action plans should include concrete objectives in order for their implementation to be effectively monitored.
6. GNCHR was concerned about the marginalization of women in the labour market which was reflected, inter alia, in the high female unemployment rates. Pension cuts affecting widows and other categories of women has also had a negative impact. State interventions relating to collective agreements had resulted in the widening of the gender pay gap. The rapid growth of flexible forms of employment and the imposition of replacement of indefinite contracts with fixed term contracts had led to a significant reduction in wages. GNCHR was further concerned at the lack of adequate public day-care structures for children and dependent persons, which limited women’s ability to take up employment or kept them in jobs with reduced rights.
15. GNCHR was alarmed that the drastic reduction in public health expenditure in 2014 had led to longer waiting times, higher fees, and the closure of hospitals. It was concerned at the state of child and adolescent mental health; the number of new cases was increasing. Psychiatric services were not provided in schools.
16. GNCHR observed that little progress had been made in the general situation of Roma, and particularly on issues pertaining to housing, education, access to employment and public services as well as access to clean water. It considered the segregation of Roma children to be unacceptable, but found that their dispersion in schools located in neighbouring areas as a means to avoid it was controversial. It stated that the Integrated Action Plan for the Social Inclusion of the Greek Roma was already defunct and lacked solid legal guarantees.
24. Lumos recommended that Greece develop and implement a national action plan on the protection of the rights of the child.
25. JS1 referred to the 2013 finding of the Independent Expert on foreign debt40 that the burden of the economic adjustment programme appeared not to have been shared fairly and that its impact had been particularly severe for the most vulnerable sectors of the population: the poor, older persons, pensioners, women, children, people with disabilities and immigrants.
B. Implementation of international human rights obligations, taking into account applicable international humanitarian law
1. Equality and non-discrimination
26. Referring to the economic adjustment programme and the observations of the Independent Expert on foreign debt, JS1 stated that the rate of unemployment among women was significantly higher than for men and there had been a strong increase in involuntary part-time work among women. Lumos stated that the economic crisis and austerity measures were disproportionately affecting children, especially children living in poverty, with a disability or from minority backgrounds, including migrants and refugees, particularly unaccompanied minors.
30. JS1 noted that in the first UPR, Greece had pledged to include sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for protection in anti-discrimination legislation and policies, as well as to consider recognizing same-sex couples.56 It noted amendments to legislation, but that, in replying to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Greece had admitted that that the legislation prohibited discrimination on the grounds of religion or other belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, but only in employment and occupation and not in social protection, education, access to goods and services.57 JS1 considered that discrimination in the Criminal Code relating to male homosexual acts, which had been identified by the GNCHR in 2005, still existed.58 JS1 further stated that television and radio stations had repeatedly been fined, for example for broadcasting homosexual kisses, but homophobic programmes had not been sanctioned.
2. Right to life, liberty and security of the person
35. Lumos noted that there was no effective legislation regulating quality standards for both state and privately run residential care institutions for children, despite a Ministerial decision on regulating privately run institutions in 2014. It was concerned at reports which included the use of caged beds for children with disabilities; the use of corporal punishment and other types of physical and hard psychological discipline; and of neglect. It called for a comprehensive standardised system to respond to allegations of child maltreatment, neglect, torture and other forms of abuse across the country.
36. EU-FRA stated that its research showed that one out of 10 Roma children of compulsory school age in Greece were working outside their home; working conditions were generally unsafe, as their occupation mostly consisted of collecting objects for reselling or recycling, or begging on the street for money.
4. Right to privacy and family life
41. EU-FRA referred to a lack of trust in the effectiveness of the remedies in the area of data protection or in public institutions in general.
42. Lumos was concerned that the authorities did not have any system for collecting data on children being admitted to and living in institutions and was gravely concerned that babies and toddlers were being cared for in residential institutions. It recommended a move towards the deinstitutionalization of all children and programmes in line with the United Nations Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children. Lumos also called for Greece to make private adoptions illegal; ensure that all adoptions in the country are implemented by the authorities and that there were no financial gains for anyone involved.
8. Right to health
56. In 2013, CoE-ECSR found in relation to the right to the protection of health that it could not establish that there were adequate measures for counselling and screening for the population at large nor could it established that there were adequate measures for counselling and screening for pregnant women and adolescents. It also could not establish that sufficient measures had been adopted to improve the right to a healthy environment for persons living in lignite mining areas.
9. Right to education
57. AI was concerned that Roma children continued to face segregation or exclusion from education in many parts of Greece and referred to a visit to a primary school in Sofades in April 2015 which, despite a 2013 judgment of the ECtHR on the issue, was found to be attended only by Roma pupils and was also particularly dilapidated and subject to disruption by frequent power cuts.
10. Persons with disabilities
58. JS1 was concerned that Greece had never provided information about the application of anti-discrimination legislation in cases of discrimination against persons with disability. It was also concerned about the absence of data that would indicate if persons with disabilities are discriminated against in employment, social services, education, etc, including in the initial report to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In 2012 CoE-ECSR could not establish that people with disability were guaranteed effective equal access to employment.
59. JS1 noted research that had found that only 15 percent of children with disabilities in Greece attended school and that the main obstacles were a lack of transportation, infrastructure such as ramps, audio-visual aids, staff and regular funding. JS1 also noted the lack of a database to evaluate the functioning and needs of special education schools and the effects of the financial crisis on those schools.
63. JS1 noted commitments in the first UPR to take measures to provide Roma with increased education and employment and implement adopted strategies in this field. It considered that the National Roma Inclusion Strategy which was published in 2011 had effectively not been implemented. EU-FRA noted efforts towards the integration of Roma in the fields of education, employment, infrastructure in Roma settlements and healthcare, but that the socio-medical centres, which were operating in municipalities with a high Roma population, ran out of financing in 2013 because of the country’s economic crisis.120 It noted that 43 per cent of Roma children of compulsory school age were not attending school: that a low proportion Roma continued education after the age of 16, particularly women; and that only 65 per cent of Roma aged 16-24 years were literate. EU-FRA further reported that a high proportion of Roma women were without health insurance.
12. Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers
65. AI was concerned that heightened security at the land border with Turkey had prompted more refugees and migrants to take the dangerous sea route and noted that more than 243 persons had died in capsized boats in the first nine months of 2015. AI considered that a failing European migration system, poor planning, ineffective use of European Union funds by the central authorities and the financial crisis had inflamed the crisis in the reception centres on the Greek Islands. It found squalid conditions in informal camps and considered that conditions in immigration detentions centres amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment. AI called for an end to pushbacks of on the sea and land borders; for an end to the detention of migrant or refugee children in law and practice and increased shelter capacity for asylum seekers and unaccompanied children.1
The following recommendations enjoy the support of Greece:
134.2 Ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure (Montenegro) (Portugal);
134.3 Ratify and domesticate the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure (Kenya);
134.11 Finalise and implement a National Action Plan on the Rights of the Child as a matter of priority; in the meantime, put measures in place to protect those who are vulnerable such as unaccompanied children and children with disabilities (Botswana);
134.12 Finalize, as soon as possible, the National Action Plan on the Rights of the Child and address, as a matter of priority, the issue of unaccompanied children (China);
134.13 Complete the elaboration of the National Action Plan on the Rights of the Child and address, as a matter of priority, the issue of unaccompanied children (Cyprus);
134.14 Adopt and effectively implement a national action plan on the rights of the child with special attention to protection of the rights of children in institutional care and children with disabilities (Czech Republic);
134.15 Expedite the process of finalization of the National Action Plan on the Rights of the Child (Georgia);
134.16 Expedite the adoption of a National Action Plan to protect the rights of children (Maldives);
134.17 Prioritise the review and reform of the legislative framework to fully safeguard the rights of unaccompanied minors, including through finalisation of its National Action Plan on the Rights of the Child (Jamaica);
134.18 Finalize the National Action Plan on the Rights of the Child, attaching the necessary importance to the issue of unaccompanied children (Romania);
134.19 Finalise the National Action Plan on the Rights of the Child and address, as a matter of priority, the issue of unaccompanied children (South Africa);
134.21 Take appropriate measures to improve inclusion and social diversity,
by conducting public campaigns on racism and xenophobia and include awareness-raising and education in the field of human rights in the curriculum of public schools (Honduras);
134.23 Conduct public campaigns on racism and xenophobia; and include human rights education in the educational curriculum of public schools (Nigeria);
134.26 Continue the promotion and the protection of human rights, particularly for women, children and vulnerable groups in the society (Bahrain);
134.27 Continue to take measures to protect the rights of children, women and refugees (Pakistan);
134.28 Continue efforts aimed at promoting rights of children, women, persons with disabilities (Ukraine);
134.53 Continue maximum efforts to ensure freedom from discrimination for certain minorities, especially school age children and women (Uruguay);
134.83 Establish systems for monitoring and gathering information with the view to prevent abuse and ill-treatment of children, as well as other situations of negligence or lack of adequate care (Mexico);
134.90 Continue to reform its domestic child protection system in order to end institutional residential care and move towards a community based model (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland);
134.91 Continue the efforts deployed by the Greek government to start the implementation of the alternative care program for children (Iraq);
134.92 Move towards deinstitutionalisation of all children by investing in and promoting family-based care facilities for children in line with the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children (Slovakia);
134.116 Take steps to fully integrate Roma children in its education system, including by ending discrimination and segregation of Roma children in schools (Australia);
134.117 Further improve the access of minority groups, specially Roma and, in particular, Roma children and adolescents, to education (Brazil);
134.118 Take steps to end discrimination and segregation suffered by Roma children in the school system in accordance with its international obligations (Switzerland);
134.142 Ensure the most vulnerable asylum seekers and migrants — such as women who are pregnant or with young children, unaccompanied minors, and persons with disabilities — have access to basic services and safe, adequate living conditions, including by increasing shelter capacity (Canada);
134.147 Take measures, together with her international partners, to increase shelter capacity for asylum-seekers and unaccompanied children (Namibia);
134.154 Undertake measures to improve the legislative base with the aim of increasing the effectiveness of institutions providing guardianship to unaccompanied children (Russian Federation).
135. The following recommendations enjoy the support of Greece, which considers that they are already implemented:
135.2 Include human rights education in the curriculum of schools (Maldives);
136.6 Make fully operational the National Observatory for the rights of children and clearly define its coordinating role (Togo);
136.11 Take steps towards full legal recognition of same-sex relationships; this includes registered partnership, fiscal partnership, and marriage and the possibility to adopt children (Netherlands);
136.23 Take measures to increase the attendance rates of Roma students and their retention in school by, inter alia, providing sufficient comprehensive measures to cover education-related expenses and raising awareness of the importance of education among Roma families (State of Palestine);
136.26 Prohibit the detention of unaccompanied children in law and end it in practice, and increase shelter capacity for unaccompanied children seeking asylum (Belgium).
The recommendations below did not enjoy the support of Greece and would thus be noted:
137.18 Redouble its effort in order to fully observe the Committee on the Rights of the Child’s concern at persistent discrimination against Roma children, children of Turkish origin and children from groups identifying themselves (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia);
137.19 Initiate procedures for the opening of Turkish-Greek bilingual kindergartens, as well as new bilingual minority schools in line with the current needs of the minority (Turkey);
137.21 Apply dignified and humanitarian treatment, which respects the universal principles of human rights, to refugees in the detention centres, with measures such as ending immediate deportations at sea and land borders, the deportations and arrests of migrant children and refugees and the greatest possible protection for unaccompanied children (Ecuad
136.13 Adopt legislative measures to prohibit the detention of minors and to decriminalize child begging (Costa Rica);