Absolutely inadequate conditions in the new Closed Controlled Access Center (CCAC) of Kos: The European Court of Human Rights has granted Interim Measures

14.12.23
  • The European Court of Human Rights has granted Interim Measures with regards to living conditions in the new Closed Controlled Access Center (CCAC) of Kos.
  • The Court orders the Greek Authorities to ensure reception conditions that respect human dignity

Athens, 14 December 2023 - On 12-12-2023, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), pursuant to Rule 39 of the Rules of the Court, has granted Interim Measures with regards two Afghan women and their five accompanied minor children. The Applicants after their arrival in Greece they are residing at the Closed Controlled Access Center (CCAC) of Kos in absolutely inadequate conditions. The Court orders the Greek authorities to ensure that the Applicants "have full access to reception conditions which respect human dignity and take into account their multiple vulnerabilities". The Applicants are represented by the Greek Council for Refugees.

The case concerns 2 Afghan single women, one of whom is accompanying her two minor children, 12 and 10 years old, while the other one is accompanying her three minor children, 11, 7 and 2 years old respectively, to Greece. Both families live in the CCAC of Kos under completely inappropriate conditions.

Among others, due to the overpopulation in the facility, there is no available accommodation provided to the Applicants, single women with minor children and they have have been placed and live together with unrelated single men in the restaurant area, which is now used for accommodation. The place is lacking any security and privacy and they are exposed to harassment and the risk of gender violence. They are forced to sleep on the floor in crowded conditions and in a common area together with unrelated single men, they are exposed to absolutely inadequate sanitary conditions and insufficient provision of essential necessities and medical services, despite the numerous health issues they face. Moreover, they remain confined within this wing of the facility, from which they are not allowed to leave, and none of the required administrative procedures has taken place (reception and identification procedures/access to international protection).

It is noted that according to the official data, almost 4,000 asylum seekers currently remain in the Closed Controlled Access Center (CCAC) of Kos, where the Applicants and their minor children were transferred and are staying immediately after their arrival, a number that dramatically exceeds the nominal capacity of the facility (2,923 places)[1] and, a fortiori, its reported actual capacity (1,500 places).[2]

This structure, costing € 39.36 million,[3] was only inaugurated in November 2021. However, as the European Ombudsman has recently pointed out, the new structures on the islands, including the CCAC of Kos, "are, rather, reminiscent of detention facilities", raising doubts as to “how respect for human dignity and protection of the best interests of the child and of vulnerable individuals can be ensured” in these facilities" in these facilities.[4] The overcrowding that currently prevails in the CCAC of Kos further aggravates the existing living conditions. Moreover, with the exception of the large present of private security and police at the facility, the facility is otherwise understaffed. Indicatively, the Medical and Psychosocial Unit of the Hellenic National Public Health Organization (EODY) lacks a psychologist and a doctor, resulting in medical services currently being provided by an army doctor and medical missions of the Hellenic National Public Health Organization medical teams deployed from other CCACs.[5]

This case demonstrates the enormous gaps in the protection of asylum seekers on the Greek islands and the inability of even the most vulnerable to access basic services, despite the vast amount of money spent on the construction of new facilities on the islands. Persisting on closed-type structures and focusing on facilities that are reminiscent of detention centers has resulted in exposing thousands of asylum seekers, persons seeking protection, to conditions that are incompatible with human dignity.

[1] Hellenic Ministry of Citizen Protection, National Coordination Center for Border Control, Immigration and Asylum, "Overview of the situation of the eastern Aegean islands on 10/12/2023", https://shorturl.at/dnAHW (in Greek).

[2] ERTNEWS.gr, "UNHCR: Immediate need to decongest the refugee facilities of Leros - Kos. Their capacity cannot cope", 24/10/2023, https://www.ertnews.gr/perifereiakoi-stathmoi/notio_aigaio/ypatiarmosteia-amesi-anagki-na-aposymforithoun-oi-domes-prosfygonlerou-ko-den-antexei-i-dynamikotita-tous/ (in Greek).

[3] KATHIMERINI, "Migration: New Closed Controlled Acces Centers in Leros and Kos inaugurated - What they include", 27/11/2021, https://www.kathimerini.gr/society/561606400/metanasteytiko-egkainiastikan-oi-nees-kleistes-elegchomenes-domes-se-lero-kai-ko-ti-perilamvanoyn/ (in Greek).  

[4] European Ombudsman, “Decision in strategic inquiry OI/3/2022/MHZ on how the European Commission ensures respect for fundamental rights in EU-funded migration management facilities in Greece”, 7 June 2023, https://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/en/decision/en/170792, para. 48

[5]Information provided by a representative of the Administration during the GCR mission to Kos on 6/12/2023.

 

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