Athens, 26 March 2013. 35 organizations constituting the Racist Violence Recording Network are expressing their unequivocal opposition to the promoted amendment to Article 19 of the Immigration Code, which, if adopted, shall be a shield of protection for all perjuring government officials who are involved in incidents of racist violence and shall virtually set aside any possibility of protection for the victims.
The Network has repeatedly stressed that racist violence cannot be dealt with effectively without guarantees for the possibility of an allegation. According to data gathered by the Network, persons lacking legal documents constitute the majority of victims of racist attacks. Even in these rare cases where they have the courage to report the incidents, they are automatically detained until an expulsion decision is issued. It seems, however, that this method of dissuading the victims was not enough.
Moving on to the next level, the promoted amendment leads to further intimidation of the victims: it reverses the burden of proof, threatening with immediate court under the flagrant crime procedure and expulsion and essentially criminalizing the recourse to legal protection, thus converting the injured victim’s body to a quasi-presumption of guilt. The victims of racist violence are now accountable for any lack of evidence, despite the fact that this lack is most often a result of the delay or even of the reluctance of the prosecuting authorities to adequately investigate the alleged incidents against them.
It is worth noting that the data collected by the Racist Violence Recording Network illustrate a significant increase in incidents where police violence intersects with racist violence. At a time when one would expect the establishment of an effective mechanism to investigate allegations regarding police violence and arbitrary behavior (in accordance, moreover, with the recommendations of international organizations, the Ombudsman and the National Commission for Human Rights), the promoted amendment sends out the message that impunity shall be perpetuated.
The Racist Violence Recording Network and its member organizations call for the immediate reinstatement of Article 19 of the Immigration Code exactly the way it was before the introduction of the unacceptable amendment. Otherwise, our country will officially declare that any perjuring government officials may feel safe to act arbitrarily, while strengthening the impunity of all sorts of organized groups of racist violence.
Eleni Takou, 210.7233216, firstname.lastname@example.org