Investigate arbitrary police harassment and detention of transgender women in Thessaloniki!
for immediate release
June 25 2013
Transgender Europe – TGEU is gravely concerned about concentrated police actions targeting transgender women in Thessaloniki, Greece.
According to TGEU’s member organization Greek Transgender Support Association police has been targeting transgender persons end of May in a “sweep” operation in Thessaloniki. On the pretext of the verification of their ID and identification as sex workers transgender persons have been detained 3 – 4 hours. In at least 3 cases traffic police stopped trans female car drivers without suspicion or violation of the law and took them in for identity verification. The behavior of police officers during the arrests was reportedly offensive, humiliating and intending to undermine the victims’ dignity. In one case, a trans woman was detained unjustified three times within four days.
In the night of June 4, the organization’s attorney Electra Koutra was arbitrarily detained at the Democratias Square police station in Thessaloniki, where she had gone in her capacity as lawyer of a transgender client. As stated by the World Organisation Against Torture, police officers denied Mrs Koutras to see her client, threatened and verbally abused her and finally illegally put her in detention. The Public Prosecutor rejected to arrest the police officers as they were acting while on duty.
Public statements against Thessaloniki pride by political and religious leaders may be the background against which trans people have become “easy targets”, fears Greek Transgender Support Association.
TGEU is very concerned about the repeated pattern of arbitrarily targeting, detaining and verbally abusing transgender women by Greek police, similar to last spring’s police crackdown operation “Xenios Zeus” in Athens.
Greek jurisprudence had previously confirmed that ‘the incidence of the identity of a transgender person with her presence in a specific location does not mean that the person practices sexual work, let alone that she “harasses” the passersby. On the contrary, the reference of the individual to trial, just on the basis of the above coincidence, signifies the criminalisation of gender identity; this is not to be tolerated in a well-governed democratic society.’
“The Greece Authorities have to stop this witch-hunt against transgender persons immediately and fully respect their human rights,” says lawyer Alecs Recher from TGEU’s Executive Board. “A state that arrests lawyers for fulfilling their work is not governed by the Rule of Law anymore. We strongly encourage the Greek judges to make sure their voice is heard by those responsible for these human rights violations and to hold them accountable.”
TGEU strongly condemns this form of transphobic discrimination, police violence, abuse of authority and denied access to justice.
Transgender Europe calls upon Greek authorities:
- immediately stop any harassment of transgender persons and human rights defenders in Thessaloniki and elsewhere in Greece.
- Prompt an impartial investigation into the above-mentioned incidents, identify those responsible and hold them accountable.
- Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of transgender persons and human rights defenders in accordance with international human rights standards.
Transgender Europe – TGEU is a European Human Rights Organization with membership in 36 countries working for equality and inclusion of all trans people. www.tgeu.org
For more information contact Richard Köhler TGEU Policy Officer firstname.lastname@example.org