Terminate the detention of a gay Iranian refugee seeking asylum
- See also the first Press Release with all the detail of the case: transgendersupportassociation.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/public-statement-lgbt-ngos-on-iranian-asylum-seeker1.doc
Athens, 17 September 2013
JOINT PRESS RELEASE OF GREEK LGBT ORGANIZATIONS
Subject: “The Greek LGBT organizations call for the IMMEDIATE termination of the detention of an Iranian refugee seeking asylum on the grounds of sexual orientation and ask Greece to respect EU legislation and case laws on asylum.”
Following the joint press release of September 2 (transgendersupportassociation.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/public-statement-lgbt-ngos-on-iranian-asylum-seeker1.doc) , 2013 on the case of Iranian asylum seeker B., the undersigned organizations that support the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people feel obliged to announce that Mr. Dionysia Paliogianni, chair Judge of the 28th Section of the Administrative Court of Athens, rejected the "objections against detention" filed by the detainee and patient asylum seeker; especially since the reasoning is also based on disregard of the ECtHR’s case law, stating that, regardless of the legal recognition of cohabitation of the same-sex couple, must protect this symbiosis within the notion of “private / family life” under Article 8 of the Convention.
The Court ruled that: “The applicant requests the termination of his detention and filed for political asylum in Greece because in his homeland he faces the danger of prosecution due to his sexual orientation and religion (he has already baptized Christian), grounds that are considered as crimes in Iran and that his asylum seeking application was not thoroughly examined by the Authorities because he could not personally attend the interview, that he has already filed for a new application on August 7, 2013 for the same reason, and that he has the support of the Greek LGBT community plus the support of Greek MPs interested in human rights. The applicant claims that he has established living and social bonds in Greece, he has permanent address, is in a serious relationship with a Greek citizen with whom he was sharing the same apartment up to his arrest, plus he has an asthma illness that has worsened in the last two months due to his detention at the Police Station. The prolonged detention in an overcrowded and lacking of adequate ventilation cell, without adequate access to medical and pharmaceutical support, puts his life in danger not only because of his asthma illness, but also because his fellow prisoners are heavy smokers, plus the poor quality of food, lack of outdoors yard, poor sanitation conditions and lack of any creative activity or work, constitute an inhuman treatment contrary to the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. The applicant furnished the Court with sound evidence that prove the above.”
The Court, despite the fact that a number of Greek citizens, including his partner, his partner’s mother and sister, friends, etc. testified and confirmed the same-sex couple status and that both partners are living under the same roof, revealing the nature of their relationship, ruled that the proof of a permanent address, as witnessed by his partner’s statement, is “not enough considering the fact that there is no family-bond between the partners”. Furthermore, the Court ruled that the applicants state of health is not “considered as a serious health reason”, despite the fact that the judges accepted all medical records that proved the applicants suffering from bronchial asthma.
As far as the poor and completely incompatible to the applicant’s the state of health conditions of detention in police station is concerned, Mr. Dionysia Paliogianni ruled that “the applicant’s alleged detention conditions at the Police Station (…) are not enough as evidence, contents to earlier and therefore outdated findings concerning the conditions of detention of foreigners in various detention centres”, and cynically ignores the statutory prohibition to detain persons in Police cells for more than 48 hours and the numerous relative convictions of Greece by the ECtHR.
B. alsostressed that he had no criminal record and that he has officially applied for onternational protection upon entry in Greecem after he had fled Iran, where he is to be persecuted by the religious police because of his homosexuality, that he entered Greece in a manner contemplated to the International Law, that he is not responsible for not appearing in front of the authorities at the given time and date (due to lack of translation services, that the Police should have hired in order to inform him), that the LGBT community in Greece is fully updated about his case, and that even the Greek Parliament is informed (through relevant parliamentary questions) about his detention and the attitude of the authorities that examine his application for asylum, that he has created living and social bonds in Greece and has a permanent address of residence.
Furthermore, that the detention conditions – applicable under the provisions of the Penal Code – are contrary to Article 3 of the ECHR; since the cells for long-term detention of people are not suitable (overcrowded cells with lack proper outdoor space, ventilation, sanitation etc.), and also that EU Law is not providing any detention grounds for someone who has already applied for asylum (provisions that are supposedly “implementing” EU legislation into the Greek legal system in a “creative” manner, i.e. by adding – contrary to art.18 of the EU Reception Directive and in a complete violation – a provision that people seeking asylum can be held in detention centres for a period of twelve months before the authorities consider their application. B. claimed that the above are inconsistent with ECHR’s articles 3 , 5.1, 5.4, 8, 13 , 14 and 17.
More specifically, he argued that his detention conditions at the police station were harmful because of the extremely fragile state of his health (due his medically certified asthma), and that his health was deteriorating during these two months where he had to share the same cell that had no adequate ventilation with smokers and under extremely stressful conditions, without medical, pharmaceutical or psychological support, and in paroxysmal fits that put his life in danger! We must note here that these conditions constitute “torture”, under Article 1 of the UN Convention “Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)”.
We express our deep concern and condemnation for the Court’s negligence of the International Conventions and the relevant laws of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the incomplete transposition of EU legislation about the detention and the majority of rights of people seeking asylum (which should lead to an infringement procedure, according to the European Commission’s rules and regulations), the total breach of warranty to protect the life and dignity, when the bearer of these goods is a non-Greek national.
B, represented by his lawyer Electra - Leda Koutra, having exhausted internal remedies, will now directly lodge an application with the European Court of Human Rights, in a case that clearly involves LGBT rights.
We demand the IMMEDIATE termination of detention of B., an Iranian asylum seeker, until the Greek authorities thoroughly consider his case, and declare our full support and solidarity.
THE UNDERSIGNED ORGANIZATIONS
Lesbian and Gay Community of Greece ( O.L.K.E. )
Greek Transgender Support Association ( G.T.S.A. )
Hellenic Action for Human Rights - " Pleiades "
Colour Youth - LGBTQ Youth Community of Athens
Good As You (th) - LGBTIQ Youth Community of Thessaloniki
HOMOphonia - Thessaloniki Pride
Act Up - Δράσε Hellas
Partnership for Social Gender
Lesbian Group of Thessaloniki ( L.O.TH. )
Rainbow Families Greece
lgbt / Red
Lesbian Group of Athens ( L.O.A. )