Campaign to Close Campsfield and Barbed Wire Britain statement
[Previous] Greek government’s announcement of plans to open 30 detention centres for migrants
There are concerns that the Greek government will be coming up with plans during the next few weeks to drastically curb the rights of migrants in that country. Amongst the options which are being reported is the opening of 30 new ‘closed hospitality centres’ for undocumented migrants. Each is scheduled to hold 1,000 people, making a total 30,000 detained migrants when the plan is complete. This compares with Greece’s total present prison population of under 13,000.
The Greek government has blamed migrants for increased crime rates, homelessness and public health problems. But it is arguable that it is the banks’ imposition of cuts in Greece’s spending on public health, housing and jobs investment that are responsible for the problems.
The government has defended the plan on the grounds that it will create thousands of jobs. But it is not acceptable to salvage the Greek economy by trampling on the human rights of tens of thousands of people.
The Athens mayor has cautioned that the centres would only work if there was ‘full respect of human rights, including the right to asylum.’ However, the sheer scale of the scheme and the arguments put forward for this mass imprisonment of migrants make it extremely unlikely that human rights will be observed.
It has been reported that approaches have been made to the European Union to obtain funding of €250m (£208m) for this scheme, which is doomed to failure as it is not dealing with causes, only making scapegoats.
We believe that it would be wrong for the EU to fund the mass incarceration of migrants in Greece that is being considered by the Greek authorities. On the contrary, the Union has a responsibility to uphold fundamental human rights and not to make itself a party to their violation.
We urge that instead a similar or greater amount of resources be made available to the Greek government to spend on housing, health measures and job protection policies.
The EU must also review those of its policies that prevent migrants from moving from Greece to other EU countries.
See also Médecins Sans Frontières statement on 27.4.2012, ‘Public health cannot be safeguarded through police-led health inspections and scaremongering’ concerning the 9 April amendment of Greek Presidential Decree 114/2010, included in the law governing ‘Electronic communications, Transports and Public Works Regulations and other decrees’. This foresees ‘mandatory health screenings of persons who suffer from communicable diseases or belong to groups vulnerable to communicable diseases and their detention in health structures defining these persons as a “danger to public health”’. MSF states: ‘The involvement of public healthcare actors in police “sweep” operations is dangerous and contrary to medical ethics.’
1 Guardian, 29 March 2012.
 The equivalent in the United Kingdom would be 165,000 migrants held in detention; the current figure is some 3,000.
 Guardian ibid.
It is probably the case that any proposal to use EU money for a purpose which conflicts with a EU directive – in this case the EU directive on refugee reception – would be ultra vires.