Migrants to be detained on health grounds
The government is planning to detain undocumented immigrants on health grounds, implementing compulsory tests for Aids and other infectious diseases - in a draconian policy shift that has already drawn fire from rights groups
The government is planning to detain undocumented immigrants on health grounds, implementing compulsory tests for Aids and other infectious diseases - in a draconian policy shift that has already drawn fire from rights groups.
Under draft legislation tabled to parliament, immigrants can be held in detention until the health checks are carried out and deported if they refuse to cooperate with authorities.
"The detention of non-nationals, whether they have applied for political asylum or not, is foreseen under the current amendment if they pose a risk to public health, because they suffer from an infectious disease or they belong to high-risk groups such as intravenous drug users, sex workers, or people who live in conditions that fail to meet the minimum of hygienic standards," according to the text of the draft legislation, posted on parliament's website.
"The subjects will be submitted to ... compulsory health inspections and necessary treatments," the draft says.
Ahead of the announcement of the bill, Amnesty International expressed concern over remarks made at the weekend by the ministers of health and citizen protection that the police sweep operations to detain undocumented migrants in central Athens would help address a recent spike in HIV cases.
In a statement issued this week, Amnesty called on the government to stop the round ups, arguing that authorities are deliberately targeting vulnerable groups while denying many asylum seekers a fair application process.
"It is especially concerning that those eligible for international protection also face being detained. Migrants and asylum seekers are not criminals and should not be treated as such," said Jezerca Tigani, an Amnesty programme director for Europe and Central Asia.
"The Greek authorities must withdraw such measures immediately, which will only exacerbate the stigmatisation of migrants and asylum-seekers in the country," Tigani said.
The London-based organisation said police were using "discriminatory criteria" in street inspections of immigrants living in Athens.
Police have detained hundreds of immigrants since launching the operations in Athens last week, after the government announced plans convert 30 old army bases to serve as detention centres, each housing 1,000 people.
Critics of the plan believe the initiative is being used as an election tactic.
Source: Athens News
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