Detention of babies and children under inhuman and degrading conditions in Greece
Z.M. from Afghanistan, a young mother of a one-year-old and a six-year old was arrested in the end of April 2014 in Eleftherios Venizelos, Athens Airport for the try of “illegal exit” of the country and the “use of false documents” (§ 83 and § 87 par. 7 of law 3386/2005). After two days of detention in the airport prison they were brought before the one-headed Misdemeanor Court of Athens, which pronounced a sentence of four months imprisonment on suspension. Then they were both transferred to the detention cells of the Aliens Police Department in Petrou Ralli. “We were detained in the second floor. In the beginning there were also two other mothers with their small children. When they were released we stayed alone in the cell. Next to us there was a cell where they locked up people who were getting crazy inside the prison. These poor people were crying and shouting throughout the nights. My baby was afraid, crying often instead of sleeping. … We were given only once weekly milk while the food was of very low quality lacking vitamines and oil. We couldn’t go out every day and the toilette and bathroom were filthy as we shared it with all other people.” The mother with her baby were released after one month on June 4th and only after a lawyer appealed against the detention.
A similar case came to the public on June 3, 2014 concerning the case of a nine-year-old girl and her father also detained in Petrou Ralli but for almost 2 months by the time of the publication. The girl had been arrested in Athens airport for trying to “illegally exit” the country. Her father immediately got to the airport but was then arrested too. They both have applied for family re-unifcation with the mother and the other children who are asylum seekers in Germany. Despite the fact that the court postponed their case and judged they should be released, the Greek police decided to detain them as they were lacking legal documents at that time. Even the fact that the Asylum Service also advised their release did not lead to any change in the decision of the police to detain them. Now they have the choice either to send the girl alone into a reception centre for unaccompanied minors or to let her stay under miserable conditions in detention with her dad.