The Hellenic League for Human Rights has often highlighted the fact that the lack of legal protection for victims of racist crimes that do not have legal residence in the country affects the basic principles of the rule of law, since it cancels the constitutionally established access to redress and sends a message of impunity to the organized hit squads. For this reason, the League has welcomed the provision for supplying victims and core witnesses of racist crimes with a residence permit, based on a special public prosecutor’s order, which was made by the new Code of Immigration and Social Integration.
However, with a sudden and unexpected amendment in the Code, the Alternate Minister of the Interior has not only canceled the provision of redress for victims of racist crimes, but has taken a step back, by moving the burden of proof on the already exposed victim of racist violence. Now, victims of racist violence are made accountable for lack of evidence, namely for the inability –or even the unwillingness– of the prosecuting authorities to adequately investigate accusations about racist incidents made against them. Moreover, the new code states that these accusations must be investigated by the prosecuting authorities themselves, even though they are known for many cover-up phenomena and a widespread culture of impunity.
It is a virtually intimidating provision that violates the basic principles of the rule of law and affects everyone’s social safety. In spite of the increase in violent racist crimes over the last few years, the governing majority seems not to realize that the state’s obligation to provide legal protection to any person, regardless of their residence status, does not apply only for the physical integrity of the victims themselves. The government also seems not to understand that police forces and law enforcement agencies cannot operate without any form of scrutiny and accountability, neither can they be exempted from the enforcement of the law. The Hellenic League for Human Rights strongly calls the State to finally give an end to both the impunity of racist violence and the impunity of the law and order agencies, by immediately withdrawing this particular amendment.