Police in Athens, Greece, frequently harass and abuse homeless people, drug-users and sex workers, Human Rights Watch said this week. Police stops and arbitrary detention of people who live on the streets of downtown Athens interfere with their access to healthcare and support services. The police stop and detain these marginalized people as they walk down the street, wait for a bus, or visit facilities where they can eat, clean up or get support, the group found.
“The new (Greek) government has made important commitments to change its approach to policing in the center of Athens, but concrete legal and policy reforms are needed to stop these abuses,” said Eva Cosse, Greece specialist at Human Rights Watch. “Pursuing and detaining people for no good reason is a waste of Greece's scarce resources and makes no sense.” After coming to power in February, the government of Alexis Tsipras announced the end of abusive anti-migrant police sweeps in Athens. Human Rights Watch had documented abusive stops and searches, police ill-treatment, and arbitrary deprivation of liberty during the sweeps.