It is true that when you succeded Mr. Athanasiou as Minister of Justice, many prisoners hoped that things in Greek prisons would change. A hope was born that at last a framework would be created allowing prisoners some space to breathe. The fact that prisoners have no agency and are stripped off their rights, the fact that they have taken on the role of the scapegoat in contemporary Greek society that is characterized by policies derived from memorandums, is not enough reason for our lives and our families’ lives to be plundered.
Unfortunately within these last 15 months we’ ve seen many fiestas which advertise and construct a humanistic profile of your ministry which does not really respond to reality.
The most typical example was when the ”Prison ABC” was published – a more easily understandable version of the penal code- in an unlucky attempt to transfer the responsibility of its non-implementation to prisoners, implying that its continuous violation is due to a lack of understanding on our part and not the lack of your own political will. We note here that the infamous ”ABC” – which you invested in media-wise- has still not been distributed to prisoners.
A second move to impress and shape public opinion -which again does not respond to reality- is the creation of a family visiting space in Grevena Prisons. Really, Mr Paraskevopoulos, why have you chosen the most out of reach prison in the country to create this space? Why was a prison with the most notorious management was chosen for this purpose? A management that is responsible for extensive violations of the penal code which systematically and unjustifiably deprives prisoners near the end of their senteces of much needed furloughs? A management that charges prisoners for their medical tests? That forces prisoners to pay out of their own pockets the cost of having the rotten walls of their cells painted? A prison where the meals do not suffice for everyone? A facility where prisoners are forced to buy food and basic products and on top of that they get overcharged and never get receipts for their purchases? Why, Mr. Paraskevopoulos, when the prisoners committee from wings C1 and C2 at Grevena stated their intention to meet you in order to inform you for all the above -while you were launching you much advertised family visiting room- you refused to meet with them and kept them locked in their cells?
What’s point of having launching parties for ”family visiting hours” when you have not taken care of the permanent transfer of our fellow prisoner Panagiotis Aspiotis to Korydallos, since he fulfills all the necessary requirements (remanded, father of a three month-old baby, resident of Korydallos municipality, etc) but instead you commanded his violent trasnfer to Nafplion prison which has been characterised inhumane by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Degrading Treatment?
Do you think there are ”distinct” categories of prisoners which require special and retributive treatment?
Finally, Mr. Paraskevopoulos, do you plan on answering with actions to this letter or will you exhaust your politics to generalized declarations and fiestas that do not respond to the reality behind bars?