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Europe rights official speaks against proposed Greek migrant law

The Council of Europe (COE) [official website] Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks [official profile] on Wednesday called upon the Greek government to abandon plans [statement] to include a clause in a draft immigration law that would allow the government to deport migrants following the rejection of their claims of abuse by law enforcement officials. Muiznieks expressed serious concern [AP report] about the amendment's effect on reporting of abuses, saying that it would "foster impunity, since, most likely, migrants will avoid reporting instances of ill-treatment." Muiznieks was joined in his disapproval by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] and Greece's Racist Violence Recording Network [advocacy website, in Greek] who also said that the amendment would discourage victims from reporting abuse for fear of deportation. Greek Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis [official website, in Greek] has stated his support for the amendment, which he says is necessary to protect police and coast guard officials from false claims of abuse. The amendment was repeatedly submitted and withdrawn during parliamentary sessions last week and voting on the bill was delayed. It is expected to be brought before the Hellenic Parliament [official website, in Greek] again this week. Muiznieks has previously expressed concern over Greece's reported collective expulsions [statement] of migrants, "including a large number of Syrians fleeing war violence."

Greece [JURIST news archive] has experienced continuous turmoil during its ongoing financial crisis. In October a Greek court found former defense minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos guilty of money laundering [JURIST report]. In May, a UN expert warned that Greece's bailout measures may compromise human rights [JURIST report] by severely undercutting the ability of Greek citizens to obtain a standard of living in line with international human rights standards. In January, Greece's parliament approved [JURIST report] new tax legislation to allow it to pay back its loans. Last October, the Council of Europe [official website] found [JURIST report] that two labor reforms adopted by Greece as part of wider efforts to curb the nation's financial crises were illegal. The Council's non-binding ruling [Reuters report] concerned two measures passed by the Greek government in 2010 at the urging of the country's international creditors. In February 2012 the Greek parliament approved [JURIST report] austerity measures securing a second bailout for the country to avoid bankruptcy amidst rioting and violence in downtown Athens.

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