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Title:  Greece Human Rights Practices, 1995  
Author:  U.S. Department of State   
Date:  March 1996   
 
 
 
 
                                    GREECE 
 
Greece is a constitutional republic and multiparty parliamentary 
democracy with an independent judiciary in which citizens periodically 
choose their representatives in free and fair elections.  In 1993 
parliamentary elections, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) won 
a comfortable majority, and its leader, Andreas Papandreou, became Prime 
Minister.  The defeated New Democracy party assumed the role of the main 
opposition.  Though in failing health, Prime Minister Papandreou 
remained in office through year's end and resigned in January 1996. 
 
The national police and security services have responsibility for 
internal security.  Civilian authorities maintain effective control of 
all security forces, and police and security services are subject to a 
broad variety of legal and constitutional restraints.  The Greek 
Parliament, a vigorous free press, the judiciary, committees and 
deputies of the European Parliament, and Greek and international human 
rights organizations monitor their activities.  Some members of the 
police and security forces committed human rights abuses. 
 
Greece has a mixed economy in which the market system is overlaid by a 
large public sector that accounts for about 50 percent of gross domestic 
product.  Relatively low growth, a high but declining inflation rate, a 
large but also declining budget deficit, and a 9.7 percent unemployment 
rate characterize the economy, which nevertheless provides residents 
with an advanced standard of living.  To promote further economic 
development, Greece relies heavily on the European Union (EU) for 
subsidies and loans. 
 
The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens, but 
there were problems in some areas.  There continued to be credible 
reports that police mistreat suspects during interrogation in some drug 
and other criminal investigations and that some police and military 
personnel occasionally abused Albanian illegal aliens.  However, during 
their expulsion, conditions for Albanian illegal aliens improved 
considerably in 1995 after the massive expulsions of September-October 
1994.  The Government continued to use Article 19 of the Citizenship 
Code to revoke the citizenship of Greek citizens who are not ethnically 
Greek, and Article 20 of the same Code was used to revoke the 
citizenship of several Greek citizens abroad who have asserted a 
"Macedonian" ethnicity. 
 
On occasion the Government placed international and domestic human 
rights monitors under surveillance.  Information about their private 
meetings and activities subsequently appeared in the press.  In 
September the courts dismissed a lawsuit initiated by a private citizen 
in May 1994 and joined by the public prosecutor against Christos 
Sideropoulos under Article 191 of the Criminal Code for statements 
Sideropoulos allegedly made at a Conference on Security and Cooperation 
in Europe (CSCE) press conference in Copenhagen in 1990. 
 
The Government formally recognizes only one minority, the Muslim 
minority referred to in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.  It refuses to 
acknowledge formally the existence of any other minority and denies 
members of the Slavophone community the right to declare themselves a 
minority.  As a result, some members of minorities (as defined in 
accepted international human rights norms) find it difficult to express 
freely their identity and to maintain their culture.   
 
Responding to a Council of Europe (COE) team of international monitors 
which issued a report on its visits to police stations, prisons, and 
psychiatric hospitals, the Government took corrective action to relieve 
severe overcrowding and harsh living conditions in some prisons and 
police holding centers.  Problems remain, however, as evidenced by a 
violent prison riot in November.  All pending cases which restrict 
freedom of expression, except two, have been dropped since the 
Government proscribed the prosecution of crimes committed by or through 
the press.  There are some restrictions on freedom of religion; one 
prosecution for proselytizing was initiated in 1995, and more Jehovah's 
Witnesses were harassed by authorities. 
 
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 
 
Section 1   Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
from: 
 
   a.   Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 
 
There were no reports of political killings. 
 
There were a few credible reports of shootings at the Greek-Albanian 
border of illegal Albanian migrants being apprehended by Greek 
authorities.  One death was reported in February, and another Albanian 
was reported shot and hospitalized the same month.  The Government of 
Albania complained to the Government about these incidents, stating that 
both Albanians were killed.  A military inquiry exonerated the soldiers 
involved. 
 
There were no deaths attributed to Greek terrorists in 1995.  
 
   b.   Disappearance 
 
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances. 
 
   c.   Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment 
 
The Constitution specifically forbids torture, and a 1984 law makes the 
use of torture an offense punishable by a sentence of 3 years to life 
imprisonment.  However, this law has never been invoked, even though a 
December 1993 report by the COE's Committee for the Prevention of 
Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) concluded 
that certain categories of persons detained or arrested by the police, 
particularly persons arrested for drug-related offenses or for crimes 
such as murder, rape, or robbery, run a significant risk of being ill-
treated and are occasionally subjected to severe ill-treatment or 
torture.   
 
The CPT reported allegations of ill-treatment that included kicks, 
punches, slaps, stamping on feet, as well as blows with the butt of a 
pistol or wooden sticks.  The report also noted allegations of an even 
more serious kind, in particular of falanga (beating on the soles of the 
feet) and the administration of electric shocks.  It indicated that the 
Athens and Thessaloniki police had inflicted such treatment at police 
headquarters.  The CPT team's medical personnel confirmed that physical 
evidence from the victims was consistent with their allegations. 
 
The Government conducted its own internal review of the CPT charges and 
as of September reported that of the 33 lawsuits filed against policemen 
in the period 1989-93 for abuse, torture, and ill-treatment, 11 cases 
were still pending in court or under investigation; in 8 cases the 
police officers were found innocent; 1 police officer has appealed his 
sentence to 2 years in prison for harassing a prisoner during 
interrogation; and in 14 cases the charges were dropped.  The Government 
refused to accept the Committee's observations concerning investigation 
methods, torture, and ill-treatment, dismissing them as unreliable and 
without foundation. 
 
Two police commanders were retired following their decision to use tear 
gas during a demonstration by pensioners in Athens in March.  At least 
four of the demonstrators required hospitalization.  Two members of the 
Thessaloniki traffic police were reportedly suspended from duty in 
September after an investigation confirmed they had abused a 32-year-old 
man.  No judicial action was taken against officers accused of abuse, 
and few strong disciplinary actions were reported. 
 
A 1994 law which permits paroling prisoners who have served two-fifths 
(versus the previous three-fifths) of their prison terms has not 
relieved prison overcrowding.  Credible reports indicate that prisons, 
especially in Attica, remain overcrowded.  According to prison 
statistics from the Ministry of Justice, substantial overcrowding 
continues to plague  
 
Korydallos and other Greek prisons.  Overcrowding contributed to serious 
rioting in Korydallos.  While the capacity of Korydallos (the largest 
prison, located in Athens) is 450 inmates, over 1,100 were housed there 
throughout the first 10 months of the year.  As of October 1, the number 
of prisoners throughout Greece was 5,866 while the total capacity of the 
prison system was 4,087. 
 
In the prison system, there were several credible reports of rape by 
inmates (including rape of juveniles by other juveniles), physical abuse 
by prison guards, and violence perpetrated by inmates, including against 
foreign prisoners.  Several inmate revolts over conditions occurred.  
The Albanian Government in February protested inmate violence directed 
at Albanian inmates at the Larissa prison and reportedly condoned by 
prison officials.  When given permission to visit the prison, Albanian 
consular officers found that the individuals who had complained of 
violence had all been transferred to other prisons.  Helsinki Watch 
monitors were refused permission to evaluate prison conditions for 
Albanian inmates at Korydallos prison in September.  In November a 
violent revolt in that prison led to the hanging by inmates of one 
prisoner and three other self-induced deaths from drug overdose.  Prison 
conditions for conscientious objectors improved somewhat as a result of 
government actions to reduce overcrowding and to increase work 
opportunities in prisons, which reduced the time of imprisonment. 
 
   d.   Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 
 
The Constitution requires judicial warrants for all arrests, except 
during the actual commission of a crime, and the law prohibits arbitrary 
arrest orders.  Police must, by law, bring a person arrested on the 
basis of a warrant or while committing a crime before an examining 
magistrate within 24 hours.  The magistrate must issue a detention 
warrant or order the release of the detainee within 3 days, unless 
special circumstances require a 2-day extension of this time limit. 
 
Defendants brought to court before the end of the day following the 
commission of a charged offense may be tried immediately, under a 
"speedy procedure."  Although legal safeguards, including representation 
by counsel, apply in speedy procedure cases, the short period of time 
may inhibit the defendant's ability to present an adequate defense.  
Defendants may ask for a delay to provide time to prepare their defense, 
but the court is not obliged to grant it.  The speedy procedure was used 
in less than 10 percent of misdemeanor cases.  It does not apply to 
felonies. 
 
The police sometimes violate these legal safeguards.  For example, both 
the CPT team and two credible defense lawyers stated that the police, 
during investigation of serious crimes, occasionally interrogated 
suspects as "witnesses," allegedly because witnesses do not have the 
right to legal representation during police questioning.  Statements 
made to the police in these circumstances may be used against these 
persons in court if they are later charged and brought to trial.  
Witnesses do not have the legal right to remain silent, although they 
are not required to testify against themselves.  In such cases access to 
a lawyer can be effectively denied until after interrogation, which in 
some cases has resulted in torture or ill-treatment and the subsequent 
signing of a statement.  These circumstances were reportedly most likely 
to occur in cases of serious crimes, including drug offenses, in which 
the police did not have sufficient evidence to convict without a 
confession.  The Government did not prosecute and punish any officials 
for such misconduct during the year. 
 
The effective maximum duration of pretrial detention was 18 months for 
felonies and 9 months for misdemeanors.  Defense lawyers complain that 
pretrial detention is overly long and overused by judges.  A panel of 
judges may grant release pending trial, with or without bail.  A person 
convicted of a misdemeanor and sentenced to 2 years or less may, at the 
court's discretion, pay a fine in lieu of being imprisoned.  The 
percentage of the incarcerated population comprised of pretrial 
detainees was 33 percent, according to government sources. 
 
Exile is unconstitutional, and no cases have been reported since the 
restoration of democracy in 1974.  However, Greek citizens not of ethnic 
Greek origin who travel outside the country may be deprived of their 
citizenship and refused readmittance to the country under Article 19 of 
the Citizenship Code.  Article 20 of the Code permits the Government to 
strip citizenship from those who "commit acts contrary to the interests 
of Greece for the benefit of a foreign state."  Article 19 was applied 
in 72 cases in 1995; no Article 20 cases were reported (see Section 
2.d.). 
 
   e.   Denial of Fair Public Trial 
 
The Constitution provides for the independence of the judiciary, but 
there are charges that judges sometimes allow political criteria, 
including the desire to obtain promotion, to influence their judgments.  
The judicial system includes three levels of courts, appointed judges, 
an examining magistrate system, trial by judicial panels, and the right 
of appeal by both prosecution and defense. 
 
The Constitution provides for public trials, and trial court sessions 
are open to the public, unless the court decides that privacy is 
required to protect victims and witnesses, or the cases involve national 
security matters.  According to defense attorneys, the latter provision 
has not been invoked since the restoration of democracy in 1974.  The 
defendant enjoys the presumption of innocence, the standard of proof of 
guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the right to present evidence and 
witnesses, the right of access to the prosecution's evidence, the right 
to cross-examine witnesses, and the right to counsel.  Lawyers are 
provided to defendants (in felony cases, only) who are not able to 
afford legal counsel. 
 
Although non-Greek speaking defendants have the right to a court-
appointed interpreter, the low fees paid for such work often results in 
poor quality of translation; foreign defendants complain that they do 
not understand their trials. 
 
The legal system does not discriminate against women or minorities, with 
some exceptions:  Article 19 of the Citizenship Code (see Section 2.d.) 
applies only to Greek citizens who are not ethnically Greek; Orthodox 
and non-Orthodox religions have different legal procedures for applying 
for a "house of prayer" permit (see Section 2.c.); non-ethnic Greek 
citizens are legally prohibited from settling in a large "supervised" 
zone near the frontier (in practice this prohibition is not enforced); 
and a 1939 law prohibits the functioning of private schools in buildings 
owned by non-Orthodox religious foundations.  (However, in practice non-
Greek Orthodox schools and churches are given permission to be 
established.) 
 
The Government has taken Christos Sideropoulos to trial two times in 4 
years for speaking publicly about the existence and rights of what he 
identifies as a "Macedonian" minority.  One of his cases was dismissed 
by the courts this year; the other was dismissed earlier.   
 
As noted above, the courts continue to permit prosecutions of minority 
activists who violate laws that limit freedom of expression (see Section 
2.a.).  However, no one has been imprisoned as a result of such charges 
in the last 5 years.  Those convicted have been allowed to convert their 
convictions into a fine of approximately $14 per day. 
 
There were no reports of political prisoners.   
 
   f.   Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 
 
Greece in September ratified the European Convention on Protection of an 
Individual from Use of Personal Information Through Informatics 
Technology, which prohibits the collection or use of sensitive personal 
information.  The Constitution prohibits invasion of privacy and 
searches without warrants, and the law permits the monitoring of 
personal communications only under strict judicial controls.  However, 
the number of persons and groups subjected to government surveillance in 
recent years raises questions about safeguards.   
 
The security services continued to target human rights activists, non-
Orthodox reliogious groups and minority group representatives and to 
monitor foreign diplomats who met with such individuals.  On several 
occasions, information about such private meetings was given to the 
press, apparently by government representatives.  Human rights activists 
also reported the continuation of suspicious openings and diversions of 
mail, some of which was never delivered but was subsequently published 
in newspapers with apparent links to Greek security services.  So far as 
is known, the Government took no steps to stop such practices or to 
prosecute those involved. 
 
In June 1994, a parliamentary investigating committee recommended 
indictment of former Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis and 30 
persons from the former Mitsotakis administration on charges of 
wiretapping political opponents from 1989 to 1991.  In January 1995, the 
Parliament voted to drop all charges against Mitsotakis.  Criminal 
charges against the others were also dropped. 
 
Section 2   Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 
 
   a.   Freedom of Speech and Press 
 
Freedom of speech and the press is provided for in the Constitution, and 
the Government generally respected these rights in practice, but with 
some exceptions.  Some legal restrictions on free speech remain in 
force; the Government continues to use laws to charge individuals who 
raise politically sensitive topics such as the assertion of 
nonrecognized ethnic minority identification. 
 
These laws were invoked in September when the public prosecutor of 
Florina charged the "Rainbow" Party with instigating division among the 
people by using a Slavic place name for a Greek city on a bilingual sign 
placed outside its office.  The prosecutor confiscated the sign, but it 
was subsequently replaced by party officers.  Later the same day a mob 
including the Mayor of Florina forcibly removed the new sign; the office 
was later ransacked and its contents burned by unidentified persons 
during the night.  Rainbow leaders filed suit against the State for its 
actions. 
 
Two other freedom of expression cases from previous years involving the 
"Oakke Six" and Michael Papadakis were scheduled to be heard by appeals 
courts in 1996.  Charges against Christos Sideropoulos (see Section 
1.e.) concerning the right of an individual to identify himself as a 
member of a "Macedonian" minority in Greece were dropped.  The charges 
in this case were based on what the individual said, not on violent acts 
or criminal behavior. 
 
On matters other than those involving the question of ethnic minorities, 
Greece generally enjoys a tradition of outspoken public discourse and a 
vigorous free press.  Still, the Athens prosecutor filed charges in 
December against a university professor and an actor for defending on a 
television talk show the actions of rioting students at the Athens 
Polytechnic University in November.  (The two blamed society for not 
living up to its responsibilities more than they blamed the students.)  
The two were charged under a law which states that "whoever publicly 
praises a committed crime thus putting public order at risk is 
punishable by up to 3 years' imprisonment."  Satirical and opposition 
newspapers do not hesitate to attack the highest state authorities.  The 
Constitution allows for seizure (though not prior restraint), by order 
of the public prosecutor, of publications that insult the President, 
offend religious beliefs, contain obscene articles, advocate violent 
overthrow of the political system, or disclose military and defense 
information.  Seizures have been rare, however, and none occurred in 
1995. 
 
In December 1993, the Government repealed a law which forbade "insulting 
authority" and proscribed prosecution of otherwise actionable "offenses 
committed by or through the press."  As a result of these changes, a 
number of trials involving restrictions on freedom of speech initiated 
under the previous Government, including the cases of five Trotskyites 
and two journalists, were terminated.  With the December 1993 repeal of 
an antiterrorism law, the Government lifted restrictions on the 
publishing of the public communications of terrorist groups. 
 
Several other articles of the Penal Code that were used in the past to 
restrict free speech and press remain in force.  (Article 141 of the 
Criminal Code forbids "exposing the friendly relations of the Greek 
State with foreign states to danger of disturbance;" Article 191 
prohibits "spreading false information and rumors liable to create 
concern and fear among citizens and cause disturbances in the country's 
international relations and inciting citizens to rivalry and division, 
leading to disturbance of the peace;" Article 192 prohibits inciting 
citizens to acts of violence or to disturbing the peace through 
disharmony among them.)  No new cases were reported in 1995 which 
involve these laws, with the single exception of charges against the 
Rainbow organization in Florina, which involved Article 192 of the 
Criminal Code.  In June Ioannis Nomidis and Aradni Papfaotiu were 
sentenced to 3 1/2 and 3 years for aggravated defamation under Article 
363; they remain free pending a spring 1996 appeal.  
 
The appeal of a freedom of speech conviction based on events in 1989 
brought before The European Commission of Human Rights by former member 
of parliament Sadik Ahmet Sadik was referred to the European Court of 
Human Rights in 1995.  The Commission found that the Government had 
restricted Sadik's freedom of expression in violation of the European 
Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.  Two other appeals by 
Sadik were pending before the Commission or Court when Sadik died in an 
automobile accident in July.  No evidence of foul play has been brought 
to light as a result of the official investigation into Sadik's death. 
 
The Constitution provides that the State exercise "immediate control" 
over radio and television.  An independent, government-appointed body 
with the authority to enact rules governing private broadcasting 
established procedural regulations for radio several years ago.  In 1993 
it did so for television as well, issuing licenses to six private 
stations.  Many other private television stations operated without 
licenses, however.  State-run stations tended to emphasize the 
Government's views but also reported objectively on other parties' 
programs and positions.  Private radio and television stations operated 
independently of any government control on their reporting. 
 
Members of ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities freely publish 
periodicals and other publications, often in their native language.  In 
Thrace, Turkish-language television broadcasts are widely available. 
 
Academic freedoms are respected. 
 
   b.   Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 
 
The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly.  Police permits were 
routinely issued for public demonstrations, and there were no reports 
that the permit requirement was abused.  However, religious celebrations 
in the province of Florina in July, which included the performance of 
Slavic songs and dances, were interrupted when power was cut to the 
villages involved. 
 
The Constitution provides for the right of association, which was 
generally respected, except in cases involving ethnic minorities.  In 
1994 the Supreme Court upheld the 1991 decision of lower courts to deny 
registration to the "Macedonian Cultural Center" in Florina, organized 
by Greeks who consider themselves of Slavic descent.  The 1991 ruling 
held that "the true goal of the society...is to affirm the idea of the 
existence of a "Macedonian" minority in Greece, which contradicts 
(Greece's) national interests and the law."  The organizers have 
appealed the decision to the European Court of Human Rights, where it is 
pending. 
 
Government authorities, while recognizing in law the existence of the 
Muslim minority, do not recognize the existence of any other minorities 
(see Section 5).  This is contrary to the 1990 Copenhagen document of 
the CSCE to which the Government is a party, which asserts that "to 
belong to a national minority is a matter of a person's individual 
choice." 
 
   c.   Freedom of Religion 
 
The Constitution establishes the Greek Orthodox Church, to which perhaps 
95 to 97 percent of the population at least nominally adhere, as the 
prevailing religion but prohibits discrimination against adherents of 
other religions.  The Greek Orthodox Church wields significant influence 
through its relationship with the Ministry of Education and Religion.  
Religious training is mandatory in Greek public schools for Greek 
Orthodox pupils.  Non-Orthodox students are exempt from this 
requirement.  However, reports suggest that some teachers punish 
Jehovah's Witnesses for not attending Orthodox services in school and 
suspend them for not participating in school parades.  The Constitution 
limits religious practice by prohibiting proselytizing, but only one 
prosecution was initiated in 1995.  This case involved two young 
Jehovah's Witnesses arrested in Volos.  More Jehovah's Witnesses were 
harassed by authorities who arrested and held them for several hours at 
police headquarters but subsequently released them without pressing 
charges.  Several cases involving proselytism from previous years 
resulted in not guilty verdicts in 1995; one such case was postponed 
until 1997.  Several past convictions for proselytizing are pending 
before the European Court of Human Rights. 
 
Traditionally, Jehovah's Witnesses ministers were not granted the 
exemption from military service accorded under the law to clergy of 
"known religions" and thus served prison sentences for refusing military 
service.  Since 1990-91, the Council of State, the highest court dealing 
with civil and administrative matters whose opinions are binding on the 
Government, has ruled that the Jehovah's Witnesses were a "known 
religion" and has ordered the release of ministers who had refused 
induction.  However, the recruiting service of the armed forces regarded 
these rulings as applying only to individual appellants, not as binding 
precedents for subsequent Jehovah's Witnesses ministers who were called 
up.  It thus continued to rely, in the first instance, on the opinion of 
the Ministry of Education and Religion, which in turn accepted the view 
of the Greek Orthodox Church that the Jehovah's Witnesses are not a 
"known religion."  As a consequence, for the past few years, ministers 
of the Jehovah's Witnesses have been called up for military service and 
prosecuted for refusal to serve; only after conviction could they appeal 
to the Council of State. 
 
To open and operate a non-Greek Orthodox house of worship requires 
approval by the Ministry of Education and Religion.  The Ministry bases 
its decision on the advisory opinion of the local Orthodox bishop.  In 
recent years, it has not been uncommon for such permission to be delayed 
or even, at times, withheld, though some denominations have been able to 
open and operate churches in the guise of cultural centers.   Two 
Jehovah's Witnesses were sentenced in February to 4 months' imprisonment 
for holding meetings in an unlicensed meeting place on the island of 
Thassos.  In May the European Commission on Human Rights found that 
Greece was in violation of Article 9 of the European Convention for the 
Protection of Human Rights, which guarantees the right to freedom of 
worship, when in 1990 it convicted four Jehovah's Witnesses for holding 
religious meetings without a permit. 
 
In February and April, the police visited several unlicensed Mormon 
houses of prayer in Athens and threatened to arrest members meeting 
there.  As a result, these meeting places were closed, and Mormon 
worship services were consolidated at the church's single licensed house 
of prayer in the Athens area.  The Government in September approved the 
church's 1993 application for a permit to build another house of prayer 
in the Athens area, after a Supreme Court ruling directing it to do so. 
 
Several non-Orthodox religious denominations, including Mormons and 
Jehovah's Witnesses, report difficulties getting residence permits for 
foreign, non-EU citizen members of their faiths who come to Greece to 
perform missionary or charity work.  Although such problems continued, 
these denominations reported overall better relations with immigration 
authorities and routine approval of extensions of tourist visas for 
these persons for up to 9 months. 
 
Mosques operate freely in western Thrace and in the islands of Rhodes 
and Kos, where most Greek citizens of the Muslim faith reside.  Some 
Muslims claimed that Greek law weakens the financial autonomy of the 
"Wakfs," community funds used for maintaining mosques, schools, and for 
charitable works, by placing the Wakfs under the administration of 
appointed "muftis" (Islamic judges and religious leaders) and their 
representatives.  Those who object to this system say it violates the 
terms of the Treaty of Lausanne. 
 
In accordance with a 1990 presidential decree, the State appointed the 
two muftis and one assistant mufti in Greece, all resident in Thrace, 
based on the recommendations of a committee of local Muslim scholars, 
religious authorities, and community leaders.  The Government argued 
that it must appoint muftis because, in addition to their religious 
duties, they perform judicial functions in many civil and domestic 
matters under Muslim religious law, for which the State pays them. 
 
The Muslim minority remains divided on the mufti selection issue.  Some 
Muslims accept the authority of the two officially appointed muftis; 
other Muslims have elected two other muftis to serve their communities.  
The Government prosecuted the two unofficial muftis in 1995.  Mehmet 
Amin Aga was sentenced in February to 10 months in jail for usurping the 
authority of the mufti; he served half the sentence and paid a fine in 
lieu of serving the remainder after suffering health problems in jail.  
Ibrahim Sherif's trial on identical charges was postponed on May 24 for 
a year due to the absence of the main witness. 
 
Former Greek Orthodox priest Nikodomos Tsarknias, whose current 
affiliation with the Macedonian Orthodox Church is not recognized by the 
Government, lost his appeals of four earlier convictions in absentia for 
the crime of "pretense of authority," for wearing the garb of a priest 
of the Eastern Orthodox Church.  Tsarknias, who has been charged more 
than a dozen times with similar charges since his 1991 defrocking from 
the Greek Orthodox Church, was sentenced in December 1994 to 3 months in 
prison, convertible to a fine.  Tsarknias has appealed this and all his 
previous convictions. 
 
Leaders of various non-Greek orthodox religious groups assert that their 
members face discrimination in reaching the senior ranks in government 
service.  In March the Roman Catholic archbishop publicly asserted that 
according to existing regulations, only a Greek Orthodox can join the 
police force.  Police authorities deny any such regulation.  
Furthermore, it appears that only those of Greek Orthodox faith can 
become officers in the Greek military.  To avoid this restriction some 
members of other faiths resort to declaring themselves Orthodox.  Senior 
government officials, when questioned about such allegations of 
discrimination, deny that it exists and point out certain persons not of 
the Orthodox faith who have successful careers in the military.  No 
statistical evidence is available to support either allegation.   
 
The law mandates that Greek citizens declare their religion on their 
European Union (EU) identity cards that--if and when issued--would allow 
Greeks to travel freely within the EU instead of using passports.  
Current Greek national identity cards, which will be replaced when the 
new EU cards are issued, include reference to the holder's religion, 
although individuals have the option of leaving that section blank.  The 
law mandating the declaration of religion on the EU cards has caused 
particular concern among the Catholic and Jewish religious communities 
in Greece and abroad and has drawn strong criticism from the European 
Parliament.  The Government declined in 1995 to act either to change the 
law mandating the declaration of religion on the cards or to issue the 
new EU cards.   
 
   d.   Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, 
Emigration, and Repatriation 
 
The Constitution calls for freedom of movement within and outside the 
country and the right to return.  However, Article 19 of the Citizenship 
Code distinguishes between Greek citizens who are ethnic Greeks and 
those who are not.  Most Article 19 cases involve ethnic Turks from 
western Thrace, since only the "Muslim minority" is recognized as having 
non-Greek ethnicity.  Greek citizens who are not ethnic Greeks may be 
deprived of their citizenship if it is determined that they left Greece 
with the apparent intention not to return.  Determination of intent is 
made without input from the affected individual; in practice, this law 
is applied to members of the Muslim community considered to be 
"undesirable" by the security services.  However, immigrants who are 
ethnic Greeks are normally recognized as citizens and accorded full 
rights, despite years or even generations of absence from Greece. 
 
The Interior Ministry initiates proceedings under Article 19 on the 
basis of reports by local domestic authorities or by Greek embassies or 
consulates abroad.  It holds hearings at which the affected person is 
neither present nor notified of the hearing.  Those who lose citizenship 
as a result of such hearings sometimes learn of this loss only when they 
seek to reenter Greece.  According to the Ministry of the Interior, 72 
persons lost Greek citizenship under Article 19 in 1995 (up from 42 for 
the whole of 1994).  Of this number, the Government claims that 45 
voluntarily relinquished their citizenship.  The former president of a 
predominantly Pomak (Muslims who speak a language akin to Bulgarian) 
village in western Thrace lost an appeal of a 1991 case stemming from 
his refusal to provide police with birth certificates of village 
residents.  He argued that the certificates would be used to strip 
citizenship under Article 19 from residents who had left the country.  
He paid a fine in lieu of serving his 1-year jail sentence. 
 
Persons who lose their Greek citizenship under Article 19 have the right 
of "administrative appeal" to the Interior Ministry; they can also 
appeal to the Greek Council of State and to the Council of Europe.  
Leaders of the Muslim community complained that the time and expense 
involved tended to discourage such appeals.  Three persons who lost 
citizenship in 1994 have filed administrative appeals which are pending.  
In the past 3 years, 10 Muslims have won appeals of the Government's 
decisions to revoke their citizenship under Article 19.   
 
Another section of the Greek Citizenship Code, Article 20, permits the 
Government to strip citizenship from those who "commit acts contrary to 
the interests of Greece for the benefit of a foreign state."  While the 
law as written applies equally to all Greeks regardless of their ethnic 
background, the Ministry of Interior confirmed in 1995 that the four 
cases in which Article 20 was applied in 1994 all involved former Greek 
citizens who identified themselves as members of the "Macedonian" 
minority.  No such cases were reported in 1995. 
 
Greece maintains restricted military zones along its borders, including 
along the northern border with Bulgaria, an area where many Pomaks live.  
Until this year entry into the zone was controlled by authorities even 
for local inhabitants, causing them to complain that their freedom of 
movement was restricted.  The Government announced this year that the 
sole remaining checkpoint into the village of Exinos within the zone 
would be removed, and restrictions for entry into the zone would be 
lifted.  Although the regulations concerning the zone remain formally in 
place, in practice they are no longer enforced for Greek citizens.  At 
least one foreign group was turned away from the zone following 
implementation of the new policy.   
 
Ethnic Greek immigrants, including those who came from the former Soviet 
Union since 1986 and from the civil war in Georgia, normally qualify 
promptly for citizenship and special assistance from the Government.  
The returnees have been settled initially on government-owned land in 
western Thrace, where government programs encouraging them to remain 
have met with limited success.  Most move to Athens, Thessaloniki, or 
other cities, where job prospects are better. 
 
Greece frequently offers temporary asylum, though rarely permanent 
resettlement, to a growing number of refugees from Turkey, Iraq, and 
Iran.  Permanent resettlement in Greece is not usually available for 
non-ethnic Greek refugees.  Approximately 6,000 refugees have been 
officially recognized in Greece between 1980 and 1995, including 400 
Vietnamese refugees who have been accepted by the Government since 1979 
for permanent resettlement.  Two hundred eligible asylum seekers have 
pending applications for refugee status that are under review by the 
Government in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for 
Refugees. 
 
The Government continues to apprehend and return to Albania illegal 
Albanian immigrants.  Greece and Albania are currently engaged in 
discussions to come up with an agreement which would control and 
regularize the flow of what are now illegal Albanian emigrants to 
Greece. 
 
Section 3   Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens to 
Change Their Government 
 
Greece is a multiparty democracy in which the Constitution calls for 
full political rights for all citizens and for the peaceful change of 
governments and of the Constitution.  While the Government generally 
respects these rights, there are sometimes charges that the Government 
limits the right of some individuals to speak publicly and associate 
freely on the basis of their self-proclaimed ethnic identity and thus 
impinges on the political rights of such persons.  It also combined 
voting districts in Thrace which had the consequence of making it 
impossible for ethnic Turks to be elected to national positions.  
Additionally, Roma representatives report that local authorities 
sometimes deprive Roma of the right to vote by refusing to register 
them.   
 
The Government headed by Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou of the 
Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) won in free and fair elections in 
October 1993.  Parliament elects the President for a 5-year term.  
Voting is mandatory for those over age 18, but penalties are not applied 
in practice.  Members of the unicameral 300-seat Parliament are elected 
to maximum 4-year terms by secret ballot.  Opposition parties function 
freely and have broad access to the media. 
 
Although there are no legal restrictions on the participation of women 
or minorities in government or politics, representation of both at the 
higher levels of political life remains low.  Women hold no ministerial 
positions in the Government and only 2 of 29 subministerial positions.  
Eleven of the 300 members of Parliament are women.  Women are 
underrepresented in the leadership of the two largest parties.  The head 
of the Communist party is a woman.   
 
Section 4   Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights 
 
The Government allows domestic human rights organizations to operate but 
cooperation with them varies.  In principle, it respects the right of 
foreign diplomats to meet with officials and other citizens, including 
critics of official policy, although the security services on occasion 
observe contacts of Greek human rights monitors, including listening in 
on conversations held between those monitors and human rights 
investigators and diplomats.  The security services have also questioned 
monitors' interlocutors in the aftermath of meetings, reports of which 
have subsequently appeared in the press.  Monitors view this activity as 
a form of intimidation which deters others from meeting with 
investigators.  Human rights monitors have been called spies and 
traitors in the press. 
 
In September the Government denied permission for a representative from 
the International Helsinki Committee in Skopje, the Former Yugoslav 
Republic of Macedonia, to attend the trial of Christos Sideropoulos (see 
Section 1.e.). 
 
Section 5   Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, 
Language, or Social Status 
 
The Constitution provides for equality before the law and the full 
protection of individual life, honor, and freedom irrespective of 
nationality, race, language, or religious or political belief.  
Government respect for these rights in practice is uneven. 
 
Violence against homosexuals is not common in Greece.  However, police 
occasionally harass gay bar owners and gay men, including detaining them 
at police stations overnight and sometimes physically mistreating them.  
Homosexuals discovered in the military service are dismissed for reasons 
of "mental illness," and would-be draftees are exempted from compulsory 
military service for the same reason.  Declared homosexuals exempted 
from military service for that reason are ineligible for public sector 
jobs.   
 
   Women 
 
The incidence of violence against women that is reported to the 
authorities is low, but Athens' Equality Secretariat--which operates the 
only shelter for battered women--believes the actual incidence is 
"high."  No statistics are available.  The General Secretariat for 
Equality of the Sexes (GSES), an independent government agency, asserts 
that police tend to discourage women from pursuing domestic violence 
charges and instead undertake reconciliation efforts, although they are 
neither qualified for nor charged with this task.  The GSES also claims 
that the courts are lenient when dealing with domestic violence cases. 
 
As a result of pressure from women's groups, the Government established 
a center for battered women in Athens in 1988, and a residential 
facility for battered women and their children opened in 1993.  These 
centers provide legal advice, psychological counseling, information on 
social services, and temporary residence for battered women and their 
children. 
 
According to the police, trafficking in women for prostitution, mostly 
from the former Soviet Union, Albania, Bulgaria, and Romania, has 
increased sharply in recent years.  Of 1,300 arrests for prostitution 
without a license in 1994 in Attica province (which includes Athens), 
500 were foreigners.  Sixty percent of the foreign prostitutes were 
Albanian, 30 percent were Russian, and 10 percent were from other former 
Eastern European countries.  Police estimate that foreigners constitute 
2,000 of the 5,000 prostitutes in Greece.  In July the police broke up a 
prostitute-smuggling ring, arresting the local head of the Aliens' 
Police Bureau and several other police officers at the Greek-Bulgarian 
border crossing of Promahonas and several nightclub owners.  Press 
allegations of the sale of visas at Greek consulates abroad to 
trafficking rings is reportedly being investigated by the Government. 
 
There are broad constitutional and legal protections for women, 
including equal pay for equal work, but the GSES maintains that these 
laws are not consistently enforced, and as a consequence women generally 
receive lower salaries than men for similar jobs.  A GSES report states 
that in 1993 average women's salaries in retail trade were 79.4 percent 
of those of men in comparable positions.  Although there are still 
relatively few women in senior positions, in recent years women have 
entered traditionally male-dominated occupations such as the legal and 
medical professions in large numbers. 
 
   Children 
 
The Government is committed to providing adequate basic health and 
education services for children.  However, some social groups, such as 
Roma and illegal immigrants, are underserved, according to child health 
specialists.  A 1993 study of child abuse estimated that 4,000 children 
are abused each year.  The Child Health Institute, which receives 
referrals of children who have been abused, reports that its cases 
involve physical abuse (52.5 percent), neglect/malnutrition (37 
percent), burns (7 percent), and sexual abuse (3.5 percent), the latter 
including sexual exploitation (most common), incest, and rape.  
Legislation enacted in 1992 prohibits and provides penalties for all 
forms of mistreatment of children perpetrated by parents or others.  The 
State provides preventive and treatment programs for abused children and 
for children deprived of their family environment, seeking to ensure 
that alternative family care or institutional placement is made 
available to them. 
 
Children's rights advocacy groups claim that protection of high-risk 
children in state residential care centers is inadequate and of low 
quality.  They cite lack of coordination between welfare services and 
the courts, inadequate funding of the welfare system, and poor staffing 
of residential care centers as systemic weaknesses in child abuse 
prevention and treatment efforts.  Societal abuse of children in the 
form of prostitution, pornography, and child labor is rare. 
 
In recent years, Greece has experienced a rise in the population of 
street children who panhandle or peddle at city intersections on behalf 
of adult family members or for organized crime.  Police occasionally 
take these children into custody and bring them to state or charitable 
institutions which care for wayward children.  Parents can reclaim their 
children from these institutions, but risk deportation if they are 
illegal immigrants. 
 
Few children are available for adoption by childless couples.  As a 
result, cases of prosecution for the sale of Greek babies to childless 
couples have been reported.  In May the Thessaloniki public prosecutor 
conducted an inquiry into allegations of a baby selling ring in a local 
maternity clinic which reportedly sold over 400 "orphans" to childless 
couples between 1935 and 1975.  Some of the natural parents reportedly 
consented to give their children up for adoption while others were duped 
by clinic doctors and staff, who declared the newborns dead.  In 
September the press reported the arrest of three Bulgarian women in 
northern Greece who were charged with attempting to sell their babies.  
The women were reportedly part of a network which has brought more than 
100 pregnant women from Bulgaria to give birth in Greek hospitals. 
 
   People with Disabilities 
 
Legislation mandates the hiring of disabled persons in public and 
private enterprises employing more than 50 persons.  However, the law is 
reportedly poorly enforced, particularly in the private sector.  The law 
states that disabled persons should number 3 percent of staff in private 
enterprises.  In the civil service, 5 percent of administrative staff 
and 80 percent of telephone operator positions are reserved for disabled 
persons.  Persons with disabilities have been appointed to important 
positions in the civil service, including that of Secretary General of 
the Ministry of Welfare. 
 
The Construction Code mandates physical access for disabled persons to 
private and public buildings, but this law too is poorly enforced.  In 
the past 2 years, ramps and special curbs for the disabled have been 
constructed on Athens streets and at public buildings, and sound signals 
have been installed at some city street crossings.  Since 1993 the 
Government has been replacing old city buses with new ones with stairs 
specially designed for the disabled.  The new Athens subway lines under 
construction will provide full access for the disabled. 
 
   Religious Minorities 
 
Several religious denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church, 
reported difficulties in dealing with Greek authorities on a variety of 
administrative matters.  Privileges and legal prerogatives granted the 
Greek Orthodox Church are not routinely extended to other recognized 
religions.  Rather, the non-Greek Orthodox must make separate and 
lengthy applications to government authorities on such matters as 
arranging appointments to meet with Ministry of Education and Religion 
officials and gaining permission to move places of worship to larger 
quarters. 
 
Members of several non-Greek Orthodox churches report receiving death 
threats or threats against the careers of family members if they did not 
disassociate themselves from their religion.   
 
According to Jehovah's Witnesses, teachers no longer face difficulties 
gaining or keeping employment in public and private schools, except in 
rare instances in rural areas.  Jehovah's Witnesses are now treated as a 
"known religion" for the purpose of employment by the Ministry of 
Education, which hires public school teachers.  Court cases involving 
Jehovah's  
 
Witnesses who claim employment discrimination now number only three:  
one pending before the Council of State and two in lower courts. 
 
In 1994 there were six cases regarding employment discrimination against 
Jehovah's Witnesses, one of which reached the Council of State.  Each 
case involved the refusal of the Ministry of Education to grant teaching 
permits to the Jehovah's Witnesses.  In the lead case, which dated from 
1989, the Administrative Court of Appeal in Patras overturned the 
Ministry's decision; although he subsequently received his permit, the 
Jehovah's Witness reportedly intends to file a civil suit against the 
State to collect damages.  As a result of this decision, all six 
litigants (after filing new applications) received permits by June.   
 
Leaders of the Jewish community in Greece have lobbied the Greek 
government for several years to delete anti-Semitic references from 
Greek public school textbooks.  Although the Government deleted two such 
references in 1994, three references to Jews as moneylenders remain. 
 
   National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities 
 
There are communities in Greece which identify themselves as Turks, 
Pomaks, Vlachs, Roma, Arvanites, and Macedonians or Slavomacedonians.  
Many are fully integrated into Greek society.  The only minority Greece 
formally recognizes is the "Muslim minority" referred to in the 1923 
Treaty of Lausanne.  The Government insists on the use of that rubric to 
refer to several different ethnic communities.  A substantial part of 
the Muslim minority is ethnically Turkish or consists of Turkish-
speakers in western Thrace; the Government estimates their number at 
some 120,000 persons.  In addition to people of Turkish origin, the 
Muslim minority includes Pomaks and Roma.  Many Greek Muslims, including 
Pomaks, identify themselves as Turks and say that the Muslim minority as 
a whole has a Turkish cultural consciousness.  The use of the word 
"tourkos" ("Turk") is prohibited in titles of organizations, though 
individuals may legally call themselves "tourkos."  To most Greeks, the 
word "tourkos" connotes Turkish identity or loyalties, and many object 
to its use by Greek citizens of Turkish origin.  Use of a similar 
adjective, "tourkoyennis" (of Turkish descent/affiliation/ethnicity), 
however, is allowed (see Section 2.b.). 
 
Northern Greece is home to an indeterminate number (estimates range 
widely, from under 10,000 to 50,000 or more) of Greek citizens who are 
descended from Slavs or Slavophones.  Some still speak a Slavic dialect, 
particularly in the Florina district.  A small number of them consider 
themselves to be members of a distinct ethnic group which they identify 
as "Macedonian" (self-decribed "Macedonians" are hereafter referred to 
as "Macedonian") and assert their right to minority status.  The 
Government continues to harass and intimidate some of these people, 
including placing one person on trial for asserting the existence of a 
"Macedonian" minority (see Section 2.a.), denying their right to 
association (see Section 2.b.), monitoring activists' meetings with 
human rights investigators (see Section 2.d.) and accusing activists 
publicly of being agents of a foreign government.  These activists say 
that, as a result, some Greeks who consider themselves "Macedonian" did 
not declare themselves openly for fear of losing their jobs or for fear 
of other sanctions.  The Government's sensitivity on this issue stems 
from a widely-held belief that people who claim to be members of a 
"Macedonian" minority may have separatist aspirations.  Greece's dispute 
with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia over that country's name 
heightened this perception. 
 
A 1994 report by Human Rights Watch/Helsinki entitled "Denying Ethnic 
Identity--the Macedonians of Greece" charged that an ethnic "Macedonian" 
minority with its own language and culture exists in northern Greece and 
that the Greek Government's denial of that minority is in violation of 
international human rights laws and agreements.  The report also states 
that the Greek Government discriminates against this minority in 
violation of international law or agreements to which it is a party.  In 
responding to these charges, the Government says that it recognizes, 
under the Copenhagen CSCE document, the right of individuals to identify 
themselves as members of ethnic minorities.  It states that such self-
identification nevertheless does not require government recognition of 
such a minority or entitle its members to any privileges under CSCE or 
other instruments.  As noted, however, the Government continues to deny 
the rights of free speech and association to some who have tried 
peacefully to assert what they consider to be their minority rights. 
 
Government officials and courts deny requests by individuals and groups 
to identify themselves using the ancient term "Macedonian," because some 
2.2 million ethnic (and linguistically) Greek citizens in the northern 
Greek region of Macedonia already use the term to identify themselves.  
The Government does not define the Slavic dialect spoken by some 
thousands of northern Greeks as "Macedonian," and government officials 
deny that it is a separate language at all.  The officials also note 
that Greece regulates the establishment of all commercial language 
academies and question whether advocates of "Macedonian" language 
schools meet the relevant requirements.  They say that the Government 
would not interfere with the holding of informal language classes within 
the Slavophone community.  When a political party hung a bilingual Greek 
and Slavic name sign outside its office, the public prosecutor in 
Florina confiscated the sign and charged the party with instigating 
division.  In response, the Party sued the mayor and other officials.  
These cases remained open at year's end.  
 
The Secretariat for Adult Education (a government agency) estimates the 
number of Roma in Greece at some 300,000.  Almost half of the Roma 
population is permanently settled, mainly in the Athens area.  The other 
half is mobile, working mainly as agricultural laborers, peddlers, and 
musicians throughout the country.  Government policy is to encourage the 
assimilation of Roma.  Poverty, illiteracy, and social prejudice 
continue to plague large parts of the Roma population.  The Secretariat 
for Adult Education conducts education and training programs targeting 
the Roma population, including the use of mobile schools.  Some 1,200 
Roma children attended the mobile school program during the last school 
year. 
 
The usage of public health facilities by Roma is low because of the low 
rate of integration of Roma communities into Greek society and social 
security systems.  Ninety percent of Roma are not insured by any of the 
government social security systems because they are self-employed or 
work in off-the- books jobs that do not make contributions to the social 
security system.  The fact that health facilities are not located close 
to the Roma camps also contributes to their low rate of access. 
 
The Treaty of Lausanne provides that the Muslim minority has the right 
to Turkish-language education, with a reciprocal entitlement for the 
Greek minority in Istanbul (now reduced to about 3,000).  Western Thrace 
has both Koranic and secular Turkish-language schools.  Government 
disputes with Turkey over teachers and textbooks caused these secular 
schools serious problems in obtaining faculty and teaching materials in 
sufficient number and quality.   
 
Under a 1952 educational protocol, Greece and Turkey may annually 
exchange 35 teachers on a reciprocal basis.  The teachers serve in 
Istanbul and western Thrace, respectively, but in recent years the Greek 
side limited the exchanges to 16 teachers per country due to the 
dwindling needs of the small and aging Greek population in Turkey.  In 
Greece over 9,000 Muslim children attended Turkish-language primary 
schools.  Around 650 attended Turkish-language secondary schools, and 
approximately 1,000 attended Greek-language secondary schools.  Many 
Muslims reportedly went to high school in Turkey due to the limited 
number of places in the Turkish-language secondary schools, which are 
assigned by lottery.  
 
In 1995 no Muslim Greeks succeeded in passing the entrance examinations 
to attend a Greek university.  The Government has enacted several 
measures that should improve the educational situation of Muslims in 
Thrace.  A new education bill provides incentives for Muslim and 
Christian educators to reside and teach in isolated villages.  The new 
law also permits the Minister of Education to give special consideration 
to minority, i.e., Muslim, graduates of Muslim high schools and of the 
Special Pedagogic Academy of Thessaloniki for admission to Greek 
universities and technical institutes.  
 
The rate of employment of Muslims in the public sector and in state-
owned industries and corporations is much lower than the Muslim 
percentage of the population.  In Xanthi and Komotini, while Muslims 
hold seats on the town council, there are no Muslims among the regular 
employees of the prefecture.  Ethnic Turks and other Muslims in Thrace 
claim that they are hired only for lower-level, part-time work.  The 
Government says lack of fluency in written and spoken Greek and the need 
for university degrees for high-level positions limits the number of 
Muslims eligible for government jobs. 
 
Public offices in Thrace do their business in Greek; the courts provide 
interpreters as needed.  In the Komotini district in Thrace, where many 
ethnic Turks live, the office of the district governor ("nomarch") has 
Turkish-language interpreters available. 
 
Claims of discriminatory denial of Muslim applications for a license to 
operate businesses, own a tractor, or construct property have diminished 
greatly in recent years.  Two Muslims were allowed to open pharmacies in 
Komotini after overcoming a long series of hurdles imposed by the 
Government and Orthodox Christian competitors.  Basic services provided 
to Muslim-populated neighborhoods and villages (electricity, telephones, 
paved roads) in many cases continue to lag far behind those provided in 
non-Muslim areas. 
 
In May Turkish Minister of the Presidency Gildirim Aktuna was slightly 
injured during a visit to Thessaloniki when rightwing and pro-Kurdish 
demonstrators breached police security lines; one grabbed him by the 
neck.  Demonstrators also broke a window on his bus, pelting it with 
rocks, eggs, and coins.  Officials said that poor police planning was 
responsible for the breaches of security.  While acknowledging the 
inadequate security, officials also complained that provocative 
statements made by Aktuna prior to this incident heightened the chances 
for such demonstrations against him.  No arrests were made, and no 
police officials were demoted as a result of the incident.  Turkish 
government officials visited Greece on several other occasions without 
incident. 
 
In December the Defense Minister reported that members of the Pomak 
Muslim minority would for the first time be allowed to advance to the 
rank of reserve officers in the military.  Members of the Muslim 
minority in Rhodes are much more integrated into local society.  
 
Section 6   Worker Rights 
 
   a.   The Right of Association 
 
The Constitution and subsequent legislation provide for the right of 
association.  All workers, with the exception of the military and the 
police, have the right to form or join unions. 
 
Approximately 30 percent of workers (nearly 1 million persons) were 
organized in unions.  Unions receive most of their funding from a 
Ministry of Labor organization, the Workers' Hearth, which distributes 
mandatory contributions from employees and employers.  Only the five 
most powerful public sector unions have dues-withholding provisions in 
their contracts, in addition to receiving Workers' Hearth subsidies. 
 
Over 4,000 unions are grouped into regional and sectoral federations and 
two umbrella confederations, one for civil servants and one, the General 
Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE), for private sector employees.  
Unions are highly politicized, and there are party-affiliated factions 
within the labor confederations, but day-to-day operations are not 
controlled by political parties or the Government.  There are no 
restrictions on who may serve as a union official.  Unions maintain a 
variety of international affiliations and are free to join international 
associations. 
 
Legal restrictions on strikes include a mandatory period of notice, 
which is 4 days for public utilities and 24 hours for the private 
sector.  Legislation mandates a skeleton staff during strikes affecting 
public services, such as electricity, transportation, communications, 
and banking.  Public utility companies, state-owned banks, the postal 
service, Olympic Airways, and the railroads are also required to 
maintain a skeleton staff during strikes. 
 
The courts have the power to declare strikes illegal, although such 
decisions are seldom enforced.  Unions complain, however, that this 
judicial power serves as a deterrent to some of their membership from 
participating in strikes.  In 1995 the courts declared a majority of 
strikes illegal for a variety of reasons, but no striking workers were 
prosecuted.    
 
   b.   The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 
 
Legislation passed in 1955 and amended in 1990 ensured the right to 
organize and bargain collectively in the private sector and in public 
corporations.  These rights are respected in practice.  There are no 
restrictions on collective bargaining for private sector employees.  The 
union of civil servants negotiates with the Office of the Minister to 
the Prime Minister. 
 
In response to union complaints that most labor disputes ended in 
compulsory arbitration, legislative remedies were enacted in 1989 
providing for mediation procedures, with compulsory arbitration as a 
last resort.  The legislation establishing a national mediation, 
reconciliation, and arbitration organization went into effect in 1992 
and applies to the private sector and public corporations (the military 
and civil service excluded). 
 
Antiunion discrimination is prohibited.  The Labor Inspectorate or a 
court investigates complaints of discrimination against union members or 
organizers.  Court rulings have mandated the reinstatement of improperly 
fired union organizers. 
 
Greece has three free-trade zones, operated according to European Union 
regulations.  Greek labor laws apply equally in these zones. 
 
   c.   Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 
 
The Constitution prohibits forced or compulsory labor, and the Ministry 
of Justice enforces this prohibition.  However, the Government may 
declare the "civil mobilization" of workers in the event of danger to 
national security, life, property, or the social and economic life of 
the country.  The International Labor Organization (ILO) Committee of 
Experts has criticized this power as violating the standards of ILO 
Convention 29 on forced labor.  
 
   d.   Minimum Age for Employment of Children 
 
The minimum age for employment in the industrial sector is 15, with 
higher limits for certain activities.  The minimum age is 12 in family 
businesses, theaters, and the cinema.  These age limits are enforced by 
occasional Labor Inspectorate spot checks and are generally respected.  
However, families engaged in agriculture, food service, or merchandising 
often have younger family members assisting them, at least part-time.  
Education is free and compulsory for all children through the ninth 
grade. 
 
   e.   Acceptable Conditions of Work 
 
Collective bargaining between the GSEE and the Employers' Association 
determines a nationwide minimum wage.  The Ministry of Labor routinely 
ratifies this minimum wage, which has the force of law and applies to 
all Greek workers.  The current minimum wage of $24 daily and $529 
monthly (Dr 5,338/119,220), effective July 1, 1995, is sufficient for a 
decent standard of living for a worker and family.  The maximum legal 
workweek is 40 hours in the private sector and 37 1/2 hours in the 
public sector.  The law provides for at least one 24-hour rest period 
per week, mandates paid vacation of 1 month per year, and sets limits on 
overtime. 
 
Legislation provides for minimum standards of occupational health and 
safety.  Although the GSEE characterized health and safety legislation 
as satisfactory, it charged that enforcement, the responsibility of the 
Labor Inspectorate, was inadequate.  In its most recent review of this 
issue in 1992, the GSEE cited statistics indicating a high number of 
job-related accidents over the past two decades.  Inadequate inspection, 
failure to enforce regulations, outdated industrial plant and equipment, 
and poor safety training of employees were cited as contributing to the 
accident rate.  Workers do not have the legal right to remove themselves 
from situations they believe endanger their health.  They do have the 
right, however, to lodge a confidential complaint with the Labor 
Inspectorate.  Inspectors have the right to close down machinery or a 
process for a period of up to 5 days if they see safety or health 
hazards which they believe represent an imminent danger to the workers.  
 
(###)

[end of document]

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