After 18 days 7,000 prisoners in greece stop their hunger strike after the ministry of justice concedes to a series of their demands, promising to release half the country’s prison population by April 2009.
On Thursday the 20th of November more than 7,000 hunger strikers in greek prisons demanding a comprehensive 45-point program of prison reform have decided to stop their hunger strike, already on its 18th day, after the Ministry of Justice responded to their struggle and to the widening solidarity movement which in the last weeks has held several mass protest marches in the greek cities by declaring that by next April the number of prisoners in greek jails will be reduced to 6.815 from the present 12.315, thus effectively releasing half of the country’s prison population.
The Ministry’s declaration in detail states that:
1) All persons convicted to a sentence up to five years for any offense including drug related crimes can tranform their sentence into a monetary penalty. This will not be allowed in the case the jury decides that the payment is not enough to deter the convict from commiting punishable acts in the future.
2) The minimum sum for tranforming one day of prison sentence to monetary penanlty is reduced from 10 euros to 3, with the provision of being reduced to 1 euro by decision of the jury.
3) All people who have served 1/5 of their prison sentence for 2 year sentences and 1/3 for sentences longer than 2 years are to be released, with no exceptions.
4) The minimum limit of served sentence is reduced to 3/5 for conditional release and for convicts for drug related crimes. Those condemned under conditions of law Ν. 3459/2006 (articles 23 και 23Α) are excepmpted.
5) The maximum limit of pre-trial impironment is reduced from 18 to 12 months, with the excemption of crimes puniched by liife or 20year sentence.
6) The annual time of days-off prison is increased by one day. Tougher conditions for days-off are limited for those convicted for drug related crimes under Ν. 3459/2006.
7) Disciplinary penalties are to be integrated.
Integration after 4 years into national law of the European Council decision of drug trafficking (2004/757).
9) Expansion of implementation of conditional release of convicts suffering from AIDS, kidney failure, persistent TB, and tetraplegics.
What the Ministry failed to answer with regard to the prisoners’ demands include:
1) Monetary exchange of prison sentences longer than 5 years, especially for 6.700 prisoners presently convicted for non-criminal offenses.
2) Abolition of juvenile prisons
3) Abolition of accumulative disciplinary penalties
4) Abolition of 18 months pre-trial imprisonment for a large number of offenses.
5) Satisfactory expansion of days off, despite the fact that the application of present liberties has been tested as succesfull during the last 18 years.
6) Immediate improvement of relocation conditions of convicts
7) Holding a meeting between the minister of justice and the prisoners’ committee
Thus in a press release, the Prisoners’ Commitee announced that:
“The amendment submitted to the Parliament by the Ministry of Justice tackles but a few of our demands. The minister ought to materialize his promises for the immediate release of the suggested number of prisoners announced, and at the same time implement concrete measures regarding the totality of our demands. We the prisoners treat this amendment as a first step, a result of our struggle and of the solidarity shown by society. Yet it fails to covers us, it fails to solve our problems. With our struggle, we have first of all fought for our dignity. And this dignity we cannot offer as a present to no minister, to no screw. We shall tolerate no arbitrary acts, no vengeful relocation, no terrorizing disciplinary act. We are standing and we shall stay standing. We demand form the Parliament to move towards a complete abolition of the limit of 4/5 of served sentence, the abolition of accumulated time for disciplinary penalties, and the expansion of beneficial arrangements regarding days-off, and conditional releases for all categories of prisoners. Moreover, we demand the immediate legislation on the presently vague promises of the minister of justice regarding the improvement of prison conditions (abolition of juvenile prisons, foundation of therapeutic centers for drug dependents, implementation of social labour in exchange for prison sentence, upgrading of hospital care of prisoners, incorporation of european legislation favorable to the prisoners in the greek law etc.). Finally, we offer our thanks to the solidarity movement, to every component, party, medium, and militant who stood by us with all and any means of his or her choice, and we declare that our struggle against these human refuse dumps and for the victory of all our demands continues”.
Prisoners’ Committee 20/11/08.
5000 PRISONERS IN HUNGER STRIKE ACROSS GREECE
All 21 Greek prisons are in the grip of prisoners 3-stage campaign in demand of 45-point reform. As part of the protest, more than 5,000 inmates are now on hunger strike.
As of Monday the 3rd of November the totality of prison across greece are under a 3-stage campaign in demand of a 45-point reform, asking amongst other things for abolition of all juvenile prisons, greater freedoms, reduction of prison service and better conditions. The first stage of the prisoners struggle in which 8,000 out of 15,000 inmates took part consisted of refusing food from the prison catering. On Friday the 7, 1,000 of them upgraded to the second stage of the campaign by going on hunger strike. The number of the hunger strikers today (11/7/08) is 5,120, 17 of whom have sewn their mouths. The third stage of the campaign, general uprising, looms over the prison establishment as outside the prisons solidarity campaigns are filling the streets of the greek cities with protest marches, concerts and various forms of direct action.
The main 16 demands by the prisoners are as follows
1. Abolition of disciplinary charges. Modification of the Penitentiary Code’s articles 68, 69, 70, 71. In any case, the disciplinary charges must be removed after served, and not accumulated nor taken into consideration when it comes to days off, work, education and discharge under conditions after they are served.
2. Reduction of the sentence limit for discharge under conditions, from 3/5 to the 3/7 of the sentence time. Immediate abolishment of the anti-constitutional treaty that increased up to the 4/5 of crimes related to drugs.
3. Once and for all 3 year reduction of all prices, to make easier the relieve of over-crowding of prisons. Rejection of the new Panoptic prisons, built isolated from the urban social body.
4. Abolition of all juvenile prisons. Adoption of open structures to take care of and protect the teenagers and youth.
5. Reduction of sentence limit of 25 years of continuous detention. Reduction of the minimum detention time to be discharged under conditions to 12 years from 16 that it is today, according to european legislature.
6. Immediate and without exceptions application of days-off, suspensions, and other benefits of the law, reduction of the minimal sentence time limits. Increase the number of days-off to 60 for those that have a right to 5 days and to 96 for those with a right to 8.
7. To end the over-use of pre-trial detentions and reduce the time limit to 12 months.
8. The para-judicial racket is known for its hysteria of the last 8 years, leading to revengeful killing sentences. We as for proportionate sentences and wide application of the measure of suspension and discharge under conditions.
9. Full, permanent and 24 hour medical treatment and respect to the patients. Creation and improvement of adequate hygiene spaces (baths and toilets). Immediate integration of the Korydallos prison psychiatric and medical clinic to the National Health System, with new aisles for women and juveniles, that lack now. Immediate transportation of patients to public hospitals with ambulances and not in police vehicles, tied up with their hands behind their back.
10. To be provided the right in beneficial work payment, education, second chance schools, technical workshops and participation in diverse similar programmes, to all prisoners proportionate and without any discrimination. To be given educational days-off, for all prisoners, that meet with the criteria and terms to study outside prison and for all levels of education and technical skills learning. Substantial amplification of withdrawal projects to all prisons.
11. Abolition of the prison no-go zone. Free access for social and political institutions, Lawyers Associations, Hellenic Medical Association and EINAP, organizations for human rights, NGOs and international organizations. Free circulation of political and educative press, with no exceptions.
12. Alternative forms of detention, amplification of agricultural prisons and of the institution of semi-free sentence as well as community service.
13. Amplification of the institution of free visits in humane conditions with respect to the personality and dignity of the prisoners and the visitors. Private place to meet with our companion.
14. Work and access to creative activities for all of us. Beneficial account of days of work in the sentence.
15. Right to selection of serving the sentence in their country of origin, for the prisoners from other countries, once and if they wish.
16. Humane transport conditions with improvement of the room in the preposterous transportation means of the greek police. More stops, improvement of the detention room in the miserable “Metagogon” ‘transfer prison’ and faster transfer to the destination prisons.
DEMANDS OF THE WOMEN PRISONERS AT ELEONAS, THIVA PRISON:
On the occasion of the third-world life conditions inside this establishment but also our treatment by the totality of the ministry of justice services, and more precisely: Inexistent medical-pharmaceutical supply. Few, to even inexistent hygiene supply (without any right to a private purchase). Inexistent basic hygiene (no warm water). Inexistent social services and care. Preposterous food, because of luck of supplies. Even first need stuff is an unknown word here. Racist treatment of the prisoners when it comes to days-off and suspensions. Injust treatment of sentence accounts for suspension proportionate to the offence (2/5, 3/5 etc). Vast delays when it comes to bringing the case to the courthouse and especially the court of appeals. The peculiar stiffness of the persons judging us, despite the recommendations they have received. The inexistent second chance we are all waiting for and most of us have a right on it, but are never given. We decided to abstain from prison food commons from 03/11/2008 until proportionate measures are taken in regards to all the above. We expect your understanding.