LIBE: for the Rule of Law and freedom of the press in Greece

Η Committee Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) of the European Parliament, in its draft report on its visit to Greece 6-8 March 2023, expresses serious concerns about very serious threats to the rule of law and fundamental rights, while stressing that checks and balances are essential for a strong democracy and notes with concern that they have received strong pressure in Greece.

libe committee

According to the report, serious doubts are expressed about the freedom of the press, while stressing that civil society organizations are under enormous pressure and that the judicial system is extremely slow and ineffective, leading to a culture of impunity.

LIBE expresses its surprise that almost two years after the murder of Giorgos Karaivaz, there is still no visible progress in the police investigation and insists that the case must be investigated without further delay and urges the authorities to seek help from Europol. He is particularly concerned that many journalists face physical threats, verbal attacks, including from high-ranking politicians and ministers, and that privacy is violated with surveillance software.

He stresses that media pluralism is under threat as ownership of the country's media is mostly distributed among a small number of oligarchs, resulting in dramatic under-reporting of some issues, such as the Tempe train crash.

For the Rule of Law

It is concerned about the underfunding, understaffing, limitation of powers, opaque appointment procedures and the harassment and intimidation of officials of independent public bodies such as the Data Protection Authority and the Communications Security and Privacy Authority. It also notes that the National Transparency Agency, which should play a vital role in scrutinizing public authorities, does not appear to be effective and concerns have been raised about its independence. Also, "the continued harassment of the anti-corruption prosecutor Eleni Touloupaki is a cause for serious concern," the Commission reports.

It calls on the government and the authorities to resolve these issues as a matter of priority and to fully implement all judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. LIBE expresses serious concerns about the treatment of migrants at external borders and internally, following reports of systematic push-backs, violence, arbitrary detention and theft of their belongings.

Notes that Greece has a solid legal framework in terms of equal treatment and positive steps have been taken such as the creation of the new Human Rights Commission, is concerned, however, about the equal treatment of LGBTI people, Roma and other ethnic minorities and women; calls and the government and all other political forces to show leadership and promote social change in this regard, especially in relation to domestic violence, police brutality and marriage equality.

Regarding the statements of G. Gerapetritis

On 23/03/23, the Greek Minister of Transport and Minister of State, Giorgos Gerapetritis, addressed a letter to the president of LIBE, Lopes Aguilar, accusing the members of the European Parliament of "interfering in the internal political scene of a member state, engaging in political games at the moment that national elections have already been called ... for next spring" and stating that "there should be no doubt about our sincere desire to continue to work as closely as possible with the European Parliament and all its Committees until the end of its legislative term period; but not at a time when the priority for the country and the government is to deal with the worst train accident in its history and not in the face of a complete lack of political decency and common sense. Therefore, unfortunately government officials will not be available for meetings with the delegation."

Her delegation notes the following: -At the time of the mission, the 2023 general elections in Greece had not been scheduled or officially announced. – The official three-day national mourning was fully observed and had ended on 3/3/2023. – The Bureau of the European Parliament had decided by an urgent written procedure on 3/3/2023 not to postpone the Commission's mission to Athens".

"Regarding the availability of public officials, it is noted that on and around the dates of the delegation's visit, they had not suspended other activities such as

• meeting of Prime Minister Mitsotakis with a delegation of German parliamentarians of the ND.

• the submission by the Government of a draft law for "abolition of the public water monopoly and concession of waste management to private entities" on 6.3.2023.

• presence of the Minister of Immigration Mr. Mitarakis at the 5th MED5 conference held in Malta and he gave an interview to the BBC on 6.3.2023.

Following the written statements of the Permanent Representative of Greece and Mr. Gerapetritis, further cancellations of meetings with the delegation were received, apparently in concert with the government:

• the Director of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), Themistoklis Demiris.

• the Chief of Police Lieutenant General Mr. Konstantinos Koumas, other representatives of the police and the Border Police and the Hellenic Asylum Service

The Home Secretary and the Minister for Asylum and Immigration both confirmed the cancellation of the originally planned meetings.

Other official invitations were extended to the President, Prime Minister, Minister of Justice, Supreme Court Prosecutor Dojako during the preparation of this mission.

No official responses to these invitations were received in the period before or after the Greek Minister of Transport's letter. Following the invitation addressed to the President of the Hellenic Parliament for a meeting with national parliamentarians from the relevant committees, a response was given on the first day of the mission, with no commitment to organize such a meeting through the administration of the parliament, but proposing direct contact with individual politicians political parties".

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Rule of Law, press freedom in Greece, LIBE

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