The Manifold
Unlawful detention of activists in Lesvos
12 • 10 • 2021

According to a complaint, on October 12, 2021, police officers arrested and unlawfully detained three activists in Lesvos, Greece, subjecting them to intimidation and an unlawful physical search.

According to a complaint, on October 12, 2021, one male and two female activists from the Netherlands informed the Coast Guard and the local police that a group of refugees had arrived and were in need of immediate help. The police officers asked the activists to lead them to the refugees, and then took all three of them to the police station. There, they took their mobile phones and interrogated them about their contacts in the Netherlands and their activities in Greece. One of the two women underwent a vaginal examination. The next afternoon, after intervention from a lawyer and MPs in the Netherlands, the police released the trio without any charges.

Where is the problem with the rule of law?

In a state governed by the rule of law, the police have no right to arbitrarily deprive anyone, even temporarily, of their liberty. This is guaranteed in Presidential Decree 141/1991, which lays out the conditions for the lawful exercise of police powers, including the apprehension, arrest and examination of suspects.

However, it has been pointed out that the wording of the provisions leaves a wide margin for the definition of arbitrariness. Further instructions are provided by the 2005 Circular issued by the Headquarters of the Hellenic Police Force, but here too, the discretion left to the police officer is so wide that in practice the police in Greece often make arbitrary arrests, which is a clear violation of the principles of the rule of law.

The Manifold
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