Addressing Criminalisation of Migrants in Greece

In response to increased numbers of migrants and asylum seekers entering the European Union through the land and sea borders of Greece, and pressure from the EU to prevent irregular migration, Greek authorities have put in place measures to reduce irregular migration, including a wall in the Evros region and additional detention centres, Frontex operations, and large scale detection operations leading to the apprehension, arrest and detention of thousands of undocumented migrants across the country.

Besides numerous rights violations, this increasing criminalisation of migrants is exacerbating xenophobic and anti-migrant sentiment, also fuelled by the severe economic crisis.

This context has paved way for a systematic occurrence and escalation of physical attacks, hatred and violence against migrants, sometimes tolerated, or even perpetrated, by the police forces. The near-complete absence of accountability of the police for overt psychological and physical assaults against migrants on the streets and in police stations in Athens and elsewhere is threatening the basic elements of a democratic society.


The Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), together with several Greek, European and international partner organisations, has embarked upon a new project entitled “Promoting EU Action to Address Criminalisation of and Violence Against Migrants in Greece” which aims to:

  • Develop and present concrete policy recommendations for key European Union policy-makers in partnership with organisations working with migrants in Greece and on European/ international level.
  • Support organisations working with migrants in Greece in EU-level advocacy.
  • Strengthen solidarity and joint work between Greek and European partners.

Main project activities:

  • Development of EU level policy recommendations.
  • A hearing at the European Parliament in April 2014 entitled “EU Migration Policy: A Push Back for Migrants’ Rights in Greece?” to encourage dialogue between EU policymakers, civil society representatives and frontline service providers.
  • Advocacy meetings with representatives of the European Commission.
  • Follow up advocacy meetings.

Project beneficiaries:

European Union policy-makers, Greek and European partner organisations, migrants in Greece.

Time frame:

The project will run until March 2014 and builds upon PICUM’s previous work in Greece and the priorities identified by PICUM’s members and partners in Greece. PICUM led an initiative with a number of Greek, European and international NGOs, bringing together concerned Greek, European and international NGOs, migrant groups, journalists and funders to devise strategies to improve the lives of migrants in Greece which resulted in the report "The Silent Humanitarian Crisis in Greece: Devising Strategies to Improve the Situation of Migrants in Greece".

PICUM will continue to communicate with project partners to continue coordination forjoint action beyond the project’s time frame to follow up on the recommendations identified.

Project partners:

International and European:

Amnesty EU Office, European Anti-Poverty Network – EAPN, ENAR, UNHCR, European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), Médecins du MondeEuropean Network of Migrant Women (ENoMW).

Greek organisations:

Aitima, Médecins du Monde Greece, Amnesty Greece, Greek Forum on Migrants, I-Red, EAPN Greece, YsMedia, Asante, Médecins Sans Frontières Greece, Greek Council for Refugees.

Additionally, PICUM will engage a wider group of national, European and international organisations to endorse the recommendations and participate in the activities. These organisations will include other members of the NGO Platform on Asylum and Migration, Human Rights Watch, and other Greek organisations.

The project is funded by the Open Society Foundation.

For more information about the project, contact Maria Giovanna Manieri, PICUM Programme Assistant at: mariagiovanna.manieri(at)

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