Greece: Sentencing of Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) members Panayote Dimitras and Andrea Gilbert

11/03/2022
Urgent Appeal

GRE 001 / 0322 / OBS 017
Sentencing /
Judicial harassment
Greece
March 11, 2022

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Greece.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the sentencing of Mr. Panayote Dimitras and Ms. Andrea Gilbert, respectively Spokesperson of the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) and GHM specialist on anti-Semitism. Mr. Dimitras is a member of the OMCT’s General Assembly.

On February 15, 2022, the Three-Member Misdemeanours Court of Athens sentenced Panayote Dimitras and Andrea Gilbert to a twelve-month prison sentence suspended for three years on the charge of “false accusation” (Article 229 of the Criminal Code of Greece). The sentence has been appealed.

The Observatory recalls that the judicial procedure against Mr. Dimitras and Ms. Gilbert is related to a complaint for “public incitement to violence or hatred” and “abuse of ecclesiastical office” they filed in April 2017 before the Department for Combating Racist Violence (Attica Division) of the Hellenic Police against the Metropolitan Bishop of Piraeus Seraphim.

According to GHM’s complaint, the content of a public statement the Bishop made on April 27, 2017 was antisemitic and incited discrimination, hatred or violence against Jewish people in a way that endangered public order or posed a threat to lives, liberty of physical integrity. Nonetheless, while the Greek authorities archived the complaint, the public prosecutor brought the charge of “false accusation” against Mr. Dimitras and Ms. Gilbert and referred them to trial without previously conducting an investigation as prescribed by law.

The Observatory further recalls that GHM members have already faced judicial harassment and other acts of reprisals in the past in retaliation for their legitimate human rights work, including acts of intimidation and unfounded accusations against Panayote Dimitras.

The Observatory expresses its concerns over the sentencing of Panayote Dimitras and Andrea Gilbert, on the basis of a public prosecutor accusation brought forward without conducting a previous investigation as is prescribed by law. The Observatory is more generally concerned over the ongoing harassment against human rights defenders advocating against hate speech and racism in Greece.

In the run-up to the appeals trial against Panayote Dimitras and Andrea Gilbert, the Observatory urges the Greek authorities to ensure that they are free from all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, and comply in all circumstances with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Greece, urging them to:

- guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Panayote Dimitras and Andrea Gilbert;

- comply with internationally-recognised human rights standards related to fair trial and the protection of human rights defenders, and put an immediate end to all act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Panayote Dimitras and Andrea Gilbert, as well as against all human rights defenders in Greece.

Addresses:

· Prime Minister of Greece, Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Email: mail@primeminister.gr
· Minister of Justice Mr. Konstantinos Tsiaras, Email: grammateia@justice.gov.gr
· General Secretary for Justice and Human Rights, Mr. Panos Alexandis, Email: ggdad@justice.gov.gr
· Permanent Representative of Greece, Ms. Anna Korka, Permanent Mission of Greece to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: grdel.gva@mfa.gr
· Ambassador of Greece, H.E. Eleftheria Galathianaki, Embassy of Greece in Brussels, Belgium, Email: gremb.bru@mfa.gr
· Permanent Representative of Greece, H.E. Andreas Papastavrou, Permanent Representation to the European Union (EU), Email: mea.bruxelles@rp-greece.be
· Greece’s Special Envoy on Combating Antisemitism at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Efstathios Lianos Liantis, Email: envoy.ihra@mfa.gr

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Greece in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, March 11, 2022

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel. OMCT: +41 22 809 49 39
· Tel. FIDH: +33 1 43 55 25 18

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