Greece HUMAN RIGHTS
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
In the twenty years since the restoration of democratic rule in 1974, Greece has compiled a generally positive human rights record in accord with the strong commitment to democracy made by the Karamanlis regime of 1974. However, international human rights organizations have classified incidents of discrimination and unlawful treatment by government authorities as violations of human rights. The most frequently cited situation involves Greek policy toward conscientious objectors. In 1992 about 420 conscientious objectors, mostly Jehovah's Witnesses, were in prison because Greece has no civilian alternative to military service, and unarmed military service lasted twice as long as ordinary service. In 1991 a European Parliament delegation was refused access to the military prison where conscientious objectors were being held. Some Greeks have also been imprisoned for publicly expressing opposition to Greek policies in Macedonia and toward domestic ethnic minorities. Occasional reports of torture and ill-treatment have emerged from Greek prisons in recent years.
Although the population of 120,000 ethnic Turks in western Thrace has had no major conflicts with the Greek majority, in 1991 a human rights report of the United States Department of State referred to a pattern of discrimination against that Muslim community. In 1993 a sizeable demonstration in the town of Xanthi protested the Greek government's choice of a new mufti, the highest official of the Muslim hierarchy in Greece.
Another disturbing note is reported discrimination against nonOrthodox individuals in filling positions in the government, the military, the judiciary, and teaching. An apparent result of the unusually close connection between church and state in Greece, the practice has long been criticized by European human rights groups and the United Nations (UN). In addition, members of minor religious groups have been imprisoned for violating the law against proselytizing. More tolerance has been displayed toward the religious activities of representatives of the mainstream Roman Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim religions, although in late 1994 the Greek Roman Catholic Church protested discrimination by a local public prosecutor.
In 1994 the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs (until 1994 the Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs) established a pilot program against racism and xenophobia in schools near immigrant and Muslim communities, as well as a National Committee Against Racism, Xenophobia, Anti-Semitism, and Intolerance.
Data as of December 1994
NOTE: The information regarding Greece on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Greece HUMAN RIGHTS information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Greece HUMAN RIGHTS should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.