Positions on antiracist legislation

Athens, 28 June 2013,

On the occasion of the appointment of the new Minister of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights, the Racist Violence Recording Network notes that, recently, there is an escalation in acts of racist violence and assaults against people based on their color, race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. In view of this situation, as well as of the public discussion on anti-racist legislation, the Racist Violence Recording Network wishes to highlight the following:
The existing legal framework, besides being scarcely applied, cannot sufficiently address the impunity of perpetrators and protect the victims. In this context, regardless of the adoption of a new legal framework or the modification of the existing one, at least two conditions have to be ensured in order to effectively face racial violence: (a) the protection of the victims and main witnesses of racist violence acts; and (b) the search for the racial motive already since the stages of preliminary inquiry and criminal investigation.
Reaffirming that it is necessary for the state to focus on legislative initiatives and administrative practices, including and protecting the human rights of migrants, refugees, LGBT, disabled people, ethnic and religious groups and communities, the Network reiterates its proposals, as expressed in its 2012 Annual Report, and calls the State to adopt them:
(1) Protection of victims and main witnesses of racist violence acts, through the suspension of their arrest and deportation (if they lack legal residence documents); as well as allocation of a temporary residence permit, on the basis of a special public prosecutor’s act assuming that the allegation is well founded, until the final judgment in the criminal case against the offender is reached. This way, it will be possible to report and investigate the acts, irrespective of the victims’ legal status and without the danger of their arrest, while the prosecution of the perpetrators will be extended, facilitated and accelerated.
(2) Investigation of the racial motive by prosecuting authorities since the stage of preliminary inquiry, regardless of whether it will be considered an aggravating circumstance in the sentencing stage. To this end, an offense committed with racial motivation should (a) either be considered as a crime with distinct offences; (b) either be associated with a sentence increase for some specific types of crime (including, indicatively, those against life, physical integrity, personal freedom and property), (c) or constitute a general aggravating circumstance, connected to a specific sentencing framework.
In addition, the Network notes that in order to tackle the exacerbation of racist violence acts, a thorough investigation is required of any complaints regarding police arbitrary actions or negligence, as well as a public condemnation of hate speech. It is also required to adopt social policy measures that will contribute to the reduction of social exclusion and delinquency, by fostering social cohesion in afflicted / downgraded urban areas.
More information:
Eleni Takou, racistviolence@nhcr.gr, 2107233216