Advocacy statements

UPR statement on Greece

  • Date / 2022
  • Location / Greece
  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Item 6: Universal Periodic Review

Oral statement

International Humanist and Ethical Union 

UN Human Rights Council, 49th Session (28 February – 1 April 2022)

Item 6: UPR Outcome of Greece

Thank you Mr President, and thank you to the Greek delegation for its presentation. I make this statement on behalf of Humanists International and the Humanist Union of Greece.

We welcome the acceptance of several recommendations on the strengthening of policies to address hate crime.[1] We note Greece’s assertion that it has adopted a national action plan against racism and intolerance, and that it has carried out “activities to combat antisemitism.”[2]

We regret to report that these activities fall short of what is necessary. Hate speech, against migrants, Muslims, Roma, Jews and LGBTI+ individuals, is widespread online and in the media, going largely unpunished. In Greece, across our political institutions and society, there is a mainstreaming of intolerance, rather than of tolerance.

From personal experience, I know that those who challenge hateful rhetoric by people with power, including religious authorities, can face intimidation and reprisals.

Myself and my colleague, Andrea Gilbert, have faced judicial harassment, because of our human rights and anti-racism work. After our filing of a complaint against a Greek Orthodox Bishop for his promotion of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, last month we were convicted with “false accusation,” and were sentenced to a one-year suspended prison term.[3]

We urge the government to make a real commitment to address systemic racism and hate crime. It must hold accountable those who abuse their public platforms to incite hatred. Those that report hate crime must be able to do so without fear of retribution.

We welcome Greece’s acceptance of the recommendation to consider alternatives to the religious education of non-Orthodox students in schools, but we ask, when will Greece ensure that exemption from religious education is in line with the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Papageorgiou v. Greece, [so that children can request exemption from religious education without being made vulnerable to stigmatisation or discrimination]?[4]

I thank you.


[1] Norway (130.14), the United States (130.23), Belgium (130.35), Botswana (130.36) and Chile (130.37).

[2] Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Greece (A/HRC/49/5), paras. 8, 11.

[3] https://humanists.international/case-of-concern/panayote-dimitras/; https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/greece-sentencing-of-ghm-members-panayote-dimitras-and-andrea-gilbert

[4] Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Papageorgiou v. Greece (Application no. 4762/18 – http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-197254), and a subsequent ruling from Greece’s Data Protection Authority (Decision 32/2020 – https://www.constitutionalism.gr/2020-32-apdpx-thriskeutika-diagogi/), stating that Greece should take necessary steps to allow children to request to be exempt from religious education without making them vulnerable to stigmatisation or discrimination for doing so.

Suggested academic reference

'UPR statement on Greece', Humanists International

WordPress theme developer - whois: Andy White London