Violation of human rights and breaches of medical confidentiality by the Greek Police, Health Authorities and Media.
Human and Civil Rights of Sex Workers in Greece are being ignored and violated.
As part of a Government authorised crackdown on hundreds of unlicensed brothels around Greece, sex workers are being arrested, submitted to compulsory HIV testing, facing criminal charges without recourse to due process, and being publically identified in the media.
In the ‘first wave’ of this crackdown, 130 women were submitted to a compulsory HIV test by the state-run Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It is expected that hundreds more will be screened in the next weeks.
In an action without precedent in a European country, the ‘competent’ authorities of Greece publicized, through a press release by the Greek Police the full name, date of birth, nationality, photographs and medical record information of a 22 year old sex worker from Russia. Following this first publication on the 28th of April, two days later the police uploaded photos of another 12 sex workers working in Athens onto a publically accessible police website
As of today’s date (04-05-2012) 17 women are to face a prosecutor on charges of intentionally causing grievous bodily harm (merely because they are HIV positive without any proof of exposure or transmission to others) and misdemeanours related to alleged illegal prostitution
This action of the Greek authorities sparked a number of articles in the press and media; these reports also name and shame the women, including disclosure of personal data and information.
These actions of the Greek Police and the Ministry of Health and KEELPNO violates any concept of human rights, challenges any notions of human dignity, breeds a culture of discrimination not only against HIV-positive individuals, but against sex workers and migrants; and contravenes accepted principles of good public health practice.
Instead of these draconian actions we call upon the Greek authorities to review the suitability of the Greek laws on prostitution and the way they are applied; apart from whether mandatory registration and health checks for sex workers are good public policy, implementing the current legislation in this way is shameful in a member state which claims to be a defender of human rights.
We also demand that the Greek authorities explain why they are taking actions that are in contravention of international human rights treaties which they have signed and ratified.
One such instrument, to which Greece is a signatory, is the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Section 12 obliges Greece to respect, protect and fulfil human rights.
In ratifying this treaty states are obliged to ensure the availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality of health facilities and goods, and to guarantee that universal access to health prevention, treatment, care and support (PTCS) services are realized, taking into consideration the basic principle of non-discrimination and respect confidentiality , as prescribed by the UN Commission on Human Rights. Article 12 includes the right to have personal health data treated with confidentiality as part of the right to the highest attainable standard of health. Moreover, health facilities, goods and services must be respectful of medical ethics and be designed to respect confidentiality.
The actions of Greece fall very short of the undertakings they have made in ratifying this treaty.
We further believe that the following should be put into place in order to reach the goals of the Convention, and support the fundamental principles of inclusion and non-discrimination:
no discrimination based on a person’s present or former activity as a sex worker
no discrimination based on a person’s legal status
no discrimination based on a person’s insurance status
no compulsory examinations, tests or treatments
no disclosure of a person’s health status
Moreover, governments should respect the confidentiality of all personal data, including information about a person’s legal status and their involvement in the sex industry.
Considering the grave human right abuses in this case, the European and International networks of sex worker communities condemn such violation and request the international and European responsible agencies to undertake a critical review of the Greek actions and censure their activities.
This letter of protest is signed on behalf of:
International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE)
Contact: Ruth Morgan Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org
TAMPEP International Foundation: European Network for HIV/STI Prevention and Health Promotion among Migrant Sex Workers
Contact: Licia Brussa, email@example.com; Pia Covre, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sex Worker’s Rights Advocacy Network of Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (SWAN)
Contact: Aliya Rakhmetova, email@example.com
Global Network of Sex Work Project (NSWP)
Contact: Thierry Schaffauser, firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition an e-petition has been initiated by the international sex worker rights community at http://www.change.org/petitions/to-mr-lucas-papademos-prime-minister-of-greece-stop-the-forced-testing-and-outing-of-sex-workers
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