PRESS RELEASE – ANNUAL REPORT 2017: ATHENS INTERVENTION TEAM OF ARSIS IN THE FIELD OF DETENTION IN AMYGDALEZA AND TAVROS PRE-REMOVAL DETENTION CENTRES

Athens, 22 May 2018

From 1 January 2017 until the end of the year, a team of ARSIS – Association for the Social Support of Youth implemented an intervention programme supported by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in the Tavros and Amygdaleza Pre-Removal Detention Centres.
Specifically, the above ARSIS team, composed by 1 social worker, 2 lawyers, 1 psychologist and interpreters, carried out, throughout 2017, regular visits on a weekly basis (2-3 times a week) to the Tavros and Amygdaleza Pre-Removal Detention Centres, aiming, on the one hand, to provide legal and psychosocial support to unaccompanied minors, adults young detainees and other vulnerable cases, especially, to families that are being detained, and, on the other hand, monitor and perform a systematic recording of the situation and conditions of detention.
The Athens intervention group in the field of detention of ARSIS attempts a holistic approach and support of the detainees by providing legal assistance and psychosocial support, both during detention and thereafter. The introduction of a mobile school in Amygdaleza Pre-Removal Detention Centre and creating an animation and empowerment group in Tavros Pre-Removal Detention Centre are, also, important tools to support and exploit the possibilities of detainees and, in particular, of children in detention.
During the period from January to December 2017, as part of visiting the above detention centres, the ARSIS team recorded and provided assistance to 255 detainees (249 cases) and more specifically:

To 166 unaccompanied minors (aged 12-17 years). Out of them, 142 were detained in the juvenile section in Amygdaleza Pre-Removal Detention Centre, 18 had declared that they were minors but were registered as adults and detained with adults in the Amygdaleza Pre-Removal Detention Centre, and another 6 respectively were detained in Tavros Pre-Removal Detention Centre in the adults’ section.
To 53 young men (aged up to 22 years, including particularly vulnerable patient cases). Out of them, 17 were detained in Amygdaleza Pre-Removal Detention Centre and 36 were detained in the adults’ section of Tavros Pre-Removal Detention Centre.
To 26 young women (particularly vulnerable cases, most of them victims of exploitation and abuse, mentally ill), and
To 5 single-parent families/11 people (3 new mothers and 1 father with minor children, aged 1 to 9 years).

At the same time, members of the ARSIS team recorded in those Detention Centres an extremely problematic situation with regard to the enforcement process but also the continuation of detention under unacceptable conditions and for long periods, even for particularly vulnerable persons and unaccompanied minors, sick, mentally ill, victims of abuse, torture, trafficking victims, families with young children, etc. In addition, it was found that the authorities issue and execute decisions of return to Hotspots and/or Pre-Removal Detention Centres on the islands against particularly vulnerable citizens of third countries, unaccompanied minors and women with serious health problems.
The big number of detainees combined with increased detention period in unacceptable conditions exacerbates the already aggravated psychological condition of minors and lead to tensions and acts of despair (abstention from meals, self-injuries revolts, arsons etc). During the reporting period, several incidents have been recorded by ARSIS team indicating the escalation of the tensions: on September 19, 2017, two minors were self-injured (scribbled) on their left hand; on 12 September 2017 the minors detainees abstained from all meals complaining about increased detention and detention conditions; on August 23, a juvenile self-injured with a blade in his left hand and transferred to hospital while the previous day a minor had swallowed shampoo. On September 1st 2017 and November 27, 2017 fires were put in juvenile section; three unaccompanied and two minors respectively, were accused of arson and accusations for serious damages.
The members of ARSIS recorded, during the reporting period, complaints by detainees for degrading behavior against them coming from police officers.
In late November/1st December 2017, members of the team of ARSIS recorded a complain regarding violence (beating, undressing) coming from police officers against two unaccompanied minors, who were thereafter accused of an arson incident in the juvenile section. Those minors complained to members of ARSIS intervention team, who, then, informed in writing about this complain the Office of the Public Prosecutor for Minors, who forwarded it to the competent Public Prosecutor for Criminal Prosecution. The later ordered the opening of an official investigation.

In conclusion, from the above findings of the Athens team of ARSIS, which in 2017 implemented an intervention programme in the Amygdaleza and Tavros Pre-Removal Detention Centres, it may be seen that detention conditions in both Centres are unacceptable and constitute inhuman and degrading treatment.

ARSIS continues its interventions before all relevant public bodies for the termination of the unacceptable practice of detention of unaccompanied minors and their prompt accommodation in appropriate protective structures, as well as for the termination of the practice of detention of vulnerable persons (such as families, patients, disabled persons, victims of trafficking, single women, etc.) and for being accommodated in appropriate structures in the mainland.
ARSIS also continues its interventions for the compliance with legality as regards the administrative detention of adults, which is systematically violated both with respect to the enforcement process and continuation of the measure of detention, and the conditions of detention, which, according to our findings, are often inhumane and degrading treatment. Legality imposes detention as an exception, even during the return process and only where the ability to impose alternative measures has been exhausted, which should at last be implemented.

More information, data and testimonies at the enclosed report.

The Intervention Team in Detention Centers of the Youth Support Center of ARSIS – Youth Social Support Organization, is part of the ESTIA, the Emergency Support to Integration and Accommodation programme, implemented with the support of UNHCR and with funding by European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO).
This document covers humanitarian aid activities implemented with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the European Union, and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

See the annual report here.