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Greece closes down its centres for temporary detention of immigrants

15 February 2015 / 16:02:00  GRReporter
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The deputy minister for the protection of citizens, Yannis Panousis, was troubled by what he saw at the temporary detention centre for foreigners in Amygdaleza. Panousis visited the centre on Saturday after the suicide of 28-year-old Pakistani, who hanged himself Friday evening.

The deputy minister said he couldn't believe his eyes when he saw what kind of conditions the detention centre offered its inmates. He made it clear he did not mean the conduct of security officers who were basically well-behaved, but the concept of such centres as a whole.

Therefore, Panousis vowed to shut down all such closed-type facilities for migrants. They will be replaced by open shelters. The policy is going to be worked out in detail shortly, with responsibilities allocated to various departments of the interior ministry.

At Amygdaleza, Panousis said he had come to voice his sadness and the regrets of both his ministry and the whole government. "But what I feel like voicing now is how ashamed I am – not as a minister, but as a human being, and as a representative of a civilisation," Panousis emphasised.

"These are not pictures one is supposed to see in a European country, which respects humanity," the deputy minister said and firmly vowed that things would have to change immediately. The whole system will be overhauled jointly with the deputy minister for migration policy, Tasia Christodoulopoulou, in order to ensure humane living standards for immigrants.

"Freedom, equality, brotherhood, solidarity," Panousis declared, and added he wasn't only speaking on behalf of the government. "We are all here: the parties, the institutions, the whole Greece. Greece cannot tolerate such a plight, we're going to overhaul the system," said the deputy minister.

Since yesterday, Amygdaleza has been swarmed by MPs and representatives of political parties and government and non-government institutions. The United Against Racism and Fascist Violence Movement organised a protest rally at the detention center.

The Greens demanded the immediate closure of the ‘concentration camps’, as they dub the detention centres. "Let's not allow others to fall victims to this modern inferno," was their rallying cry.

Meanwhile it transpired that another immigrant had committed suicide last Wednesday, this time in Thessaloniki. But the case only became known after the Amygdaleza suicide.

A 23-year-old foreigner had committed suicide in his cell at the Immigration Directorate in Thessaloniki. The police found him dead there last Wednesday evening.

The young Yemeni was mentally challenged and under the care of a physician. But it wasn't deemed necessary to hospitalise him; instead, he was put on medication.

He was found in the cell where he was locked with a few other foreigners. He had hanged himself on a string from his blouse, and the doctors who were called in could only establish his death. The circumstances around the case are being investigated.

The Yemeni had been detained since mid-December for staying in Greece illegally. His deportation process was under way.

Tags: Yannis Panousis temporary detention centres for foreigners Amygdaleza suicide
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