US State Department Report Highlights Human Rights Situation in Greece

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The annual report by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the US State Department sheds light on the human rights landscape in various nations, a crucial document guiding US foreign policy. In its latest iteration, Greece comes under scrutiny, with findings indicating no significant changes in the country's human rights scenario.

The report highlights several issues plaguing Greece, including allegations of cruel treatment towards prison inmates and migrants by law enforcement, violence against minority groups, and threats targeting LGBTQ+ individuals. While the government has made efforts to address these violations, concerns persist regarding the investigation of forced returns of asylum seekers and accountability measures.

Of particular concern are incidents related to illegal surveillance practices. The report notes instances of spy software usage, including the notorious Pegasus software, allegedly targeting journalists, politicians, and businessmen. Former Meta employee Artemis Schifford's claims of being tracked via Predator spy software raise further questions about governmental involvement.

In response to these violations, the US State Department announced visa restrictions on 13 individuals associated with the development and sale of illegal spyware.

The report also echoes international calls for safeguarding press freedom, urging Greek authorities to ensure the safety and freedom of journalists and human rights defenders. Concerns about media ownership concentration, government influence over public media, and violence against journalists covering sensitive issues like protests and migration are highlighted.

The State Department's actions signal a broader initiative to address the misuse of commercial spyware, emphasising accountability measures and collaboration with civil society and the private sector. These efforts aim to curb the proliferation of surveillance technology that undermines fundamental rights and freedoms.

In response to the US State Department's report on human rights in Greece and the subsequent visa restrictions imposed on individuals associated with illegal spyware, the Greek Foreign Ministry has issued a statement addressing the concerns raised.

The Ministry acknowledges the issues outlined in the report, noting that they mirror concerns expressed by both non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international institutions like the European Parliament and the Council of Europe. These concerns, the Ministry concedes, have cast a shadow over Greece's international image and prestige.

However, the Ministry criticises the report for what it sees as a lack of independent scrutiny of complaints by NGOs, leading to what it deems as an inaccurate portrayal of human rights situations in countries with well-established rule of law. It asserts that the report fails to acknowledge the steps taken by the Greek government to address human rights issues and ensure democracy and the rule of law within the country.

The Ministry highlights the absence of consultation with the Greek state in compiling the report, which it sees as detrimental to its integrity, credibility, and objectivity. It emphasises that despite the challenges, progress has been made in various areas, including the protection of rights for vulnerable groups such as persons with disabilities, LGBTI individuals, and unaccompanied minors. The Ministry insists that the Greek government remains committed to serving democracy and the rule of law, aiming to advance the equality and rights of all citizens while improving their standard of living.

With this response, the Greek Foreign Ministry aims to address the criticisms raised in the report and reaffirm its dedication to upholding human rights and democratic principles within the country.

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024