The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in Greece

By Vexen Crabtree 2019

#christianity #equality #eu #freedom #Greece #human_rights #pastafarianism #politics #tolerance

Greece
Hellenic Republic

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index40th best
CapitalAthens
Land Area 128 900km21
LocationEurope, The Balkans, The Mediterranean
Population10.5m2
Life Expectancy81.07yrs (2017)3
GNI$24 808 (2017)4
ISO3166-1 CodesGR, GRC, 3005
Internet Domain.gr6
CurrencyEuro (EUR)7
Telephone+308

Greece does relatively well in ensuring human rights and freedom, compared to many other countries. Greece comes in the best 20 for commentary in Human Rights Watch reports9. It does better than average in opposing gender inequality10, LGBT equality11 (but bad for Europe), supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms12 (but bad for Europe), its nominal commitment to Human Rights13 (but low for Europe), speed of uptake of HR treaties14 and in supporting press freedom15 (but high for Europe). Greece does not succeed in everything, however. It falls into the worst-performing 20 in its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice16 (one of the highest in Europe). The state gives preferential treatment to the Orthodox Church, granting it both excessive funding and exclusive access to religious education in schools17. Blasphemy laws are used to protect Christian concepts at the expense of free debate, and are sometimes used to persecute odd minorities such as Pastafarians17,18.


1. Greece's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)19,20
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank19,20
1Denmark9.7
2Sweden10.0
3Norway16.1
...
53Ukraine64.2
54El Salvador64.3
55Jamaica64.6
56Greece64.8
57Albania65.0
58Ecuador65.4
59Georgia65.5
60Mongolia65.8
61Paraguay66.7
World Avg89.8
q=199.

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Denmark, Sweden and Norway19. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are Tuvalu, The Solomon Islands and Palestine19.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice and LGBT equality. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe19, whereas the worst are Micronesia, Melanesia and Australasia19.

2. Human Rights & Tolerance Data Sets

The EU has acted on behalf of its member states on many occasions to support, foster, fund and encourage human rights protections in every region of the world, with agreement of its member states through the European Parliament. The protections of workers' rights and their harmonisations (which stops companies moving staff to countries with the weakest laws) has had great effect in stopping workforce abuse21. According to Human Rights Watch's comprehensive review for the year 2017, in addition to vocal and public pronouncements on poor human rights records of many countries, the EU has also acted through economic sanctions, political pressure and used other means to incentivize the adoption of human rights protections, even if these measures harm EU trading22. It is to Greece's credit that it supports the EU in these actions.

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments

#human_rights

Human Rights Watch Comments (2017)9
Pos.Higher is better
Score9
1UK9
2France9
3Germany9
...
8Finland6
9Luxembourg6
10Belgium6
11Greece5
12Cyprus5
13Czechia5
14Denmark5
15Romania5
World Avg-1.9
q=123.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR

#human_rights

Nominal Commitment to HR (2009)13
Pos.Higher is better
Treaties13
1Argentina24
2Chile23
3Costa Rica23
...
61Canada19
62Kazakhstan19
63Luxembourg19
64Greece19
65Ireland19
66Lithuania18
67Moldova18
68Kyrgyzstan18
World Avg15.1
q=194.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag (2019)14
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Yrs/Treaty14
1Ecuador2.15
2Uruguay2.25
3Tunisia3.65
...
66Guatemala8.10
67Netherlands8.29
68Belgium8.30
69Greece8.44
70Kenya8.58
71Eritrea8.66
72Paraguay8.78
73Burkina Faso8.78
World Avg10.02
q=195.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

2.4. Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom

#freedom #politics

Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom (2014)12
Pos.Lower is better
Rank12
1Hong Kong1
2Switzerland2
3New Zealand3
...
46Panama46
47Mongolia47
48Bahamas48
49Greece48
50Albania50
51Seychelles51
52Israel52
53Peru53
World Avg79.7
q=159.

The Human Freedom Index published by the Fraser Institute is...

... a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas: Rule of Law, Security and Safety, Movement, Religion, Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Expression, Relationships, Size of Government, Legal System and Property Rights, Access to Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business. [...]

The highest levels of freedom are in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and North America (Canada and the United States. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

Countries in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significant higher per capita income ($37,147) [compared with] the least-free quartile [at] $8,700). The HFI finds a strong correlation between human freedom and democracy.

"The Human Freedom Index" by The Fraser Institute (2016)23

2.5. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom (2013)15
Pos.Lower is better15
1Finland638
2Netherlands648
3Norway652
...
80Lesotho2836
81Bhutan2842
82Togo2845
83Greece2846
84Kosovo2847
85Guinea2849
86Bulgaria2858
87Madagascar2862
World Avg3249
q=178.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted".

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

2.6. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

In a landmark ruling in March, the ECtHR ordered Greece to pay some €600,000 in damages for failing to protect from forced labor 42 migrant strawberry pickers who were shot at by farm foremen in 2013 when they protested about unpaid wages.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)24

Slavery (2018)25
Pos.Lower is better
% Victims25
1Japan0.03
2Canada0.05
3Taiwan0.05
...
138Libya0.77
139Nigeria0.77
140Guinea0.78
141Greece0.79
142Congo, (Brazzaville)0.80
143Macedonia0.87
144Swaziland0.88
145Thailand0.89
World Avg0.65
q=167.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory26. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends27. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life28. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves29.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery30. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity31. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.32. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi25, Eritrea25, Indonesia33) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery34.

3. Gender Equality Data Sets

The 1950s saw a late rush of 43 countries, including Greece and many developing nations, move to cease preventing women from voting. Greece is on the way towards ending gender inequality.

See:

3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Gender Inequality (2015)10
Pos.Lower is better10
1Switzerland0.04
2Denmark0.04
3Netherlands0.04
...
20Israel0.10
21Japan0.12
22Cyprus0.12
23Greece0.12
24Australia0.12
25Lithuania0.12
26Ireland0.13
27Czechia0.13
World Avg0.36
q=159.

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchialism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

3.2. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Pos.Lower is better
Year
1New Zealand1893
2Australia1902
3Finland1906
...
90St Vincent & Grenadines1951
91Bolivia1952
92Ivory Coast1952
93Greece1952
94Lebanon1952
95Guyana1953
96Mexico1953
97Bhutan1953
World Avg1930
q=189.

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

4. Prejudice Data Sets

4.1. Anti-Semite Opinions

#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam

Anti-Semite Opinions (2014)16
Pos.Lower is better
%16
1Laos0
2Philippines3
3Sweden4
...
83Armenia58
84Malaysia61
85Turkey69
86Greece69
87Saudi Arabia74
88Egypt75
89Oman76
90Lebanon78
World Avg36.8
q=101.

Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews35,36,37,38. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.

The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East39, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews40,41. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"42. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males43.

4.2. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

LGBT Equality (2017)11
Pos.Higher is better
Score11
1Netherlands103
2Belgium90
3Sweden86
...
41Serbia40
42Cyprus40
43Italy40
44Greece39
45Czechia39
46Slovakia39
47Romania39
48San Marino35
World Avg12.6
q=196.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence44. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws45. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries44. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

5. Freedom of Belief and Religion

#christianity #Greece #pastafarianism #religion_in_Greece

"The constitution and other laws and policies protect freedom of religion or belief. However, antiblasphemy laws and state sponsorship of religion exist"17, which creates natural prejudice and legal discrimination against other (non-Christian communities). The Orthodox Church has its clergy's salaries and training paid for by the state and it forces most children to either undergo Orthodox religious education (RE), or, no RE at all17. Blasphemy laws are used exclusively to protect Christian concepts from ridicule, but are also used to persecute minorities and oddities such as Pastafarians17,18.

Greece still suffers from its historical era of Christian dominance. In 2012 three actors were arrested for playing parts in a play that featured a gay Jesus and the European Humanist Federation and Greek Helsinki Monitor are worried that "blasphemy laws allowing fines and imprisonment may lead to prosecution or have a deterrent effect on journalists, academics, artists and other citizens which may amount to self-censorship"18.

The International Humanist and Ethical Union produced a report in 2012 entitled "Freedom of Thought" (2012)17, in which they document bias and prejudice at the national level that is based on religion, belief and/or lack of belief. Their entry for Greece states:

The constitution and other laws and policies protect freedom of religion or belief. However, antiblasphemy laws and state sponsorship of religion exist. Article 198 of the Greek Penal Code states that "1. One who publicly and maliciously and by any means blasphemes God shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than two years; 2. Anyone, except as described in par.1, who displays publicly with blasphemy a lack of respect for things divine, is punished with up to 3 months in prison. " Article 199 states that "one who publicly and maliciously and by any means blasphemes the Greek Orthodox Church or any other religion tolerable in Greece shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than two years." Similarly, the country outlaws any speech or acts that "insults public sentiment" or "offends people's religious sentiments."

The government financially supports the Orthodox Church; for example, the government pays for the salaries and religious training of clergy, finances the maintenance of Orthodox Church buildings, and exempts from tax Orthodox Church's revenues from properties it owns. Orthodox religious instruction in primary and secondary schools, at government expense, is mandatory for all students, although non-Orthodox students may exempt themselves. However, public schools offer no alternative activity or non-Orthodox religious instruction for these children.

Cases of Discrimination

On June 9th, 2012, three actors in the play "Corpus Christi" were arrested with the charge of blasphemy following a lawsuit filed by Greek Orthodox Bishop Seraphim of Piraeus. Then, in November, the Athens public prosecutor charged the organizers, producers and cast of the play with blasphemy. If convicted, they could face several months in prison. According to newspaper reports, Bishop Seraphim was accompanied to court by members of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party.

In late September, 2012, a man was arrested in Evia, Greece, on charges of posting "malicious blasphemy and religious insult on the known social networking site, Facebook". The accused, 27-year-old Phillipos Loizos, had created a Facebook page for "Elder Pastitsios the Pastafarian", playing on a combination of Elder Paisios, the late Greek-Orthodox monk revered as a prophet by some, and the Greek food pastitsio, a baked pasta dish made of ground beef and béchamel sauce. "Pastafarian" refers to the spoof religion of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, itself an intentional pun on aspects of Creationism. A manipulated image on the Facebook page depicted Elder Pastitsios with a pastitsio where the monk's face would normally appear.

"Freedom of Thought" by IHEU (2012)17