Human rights groups say that a new law approved recently by the Greek Parliament imposes a general news blackout on the dozens of migrant and refugee facilities dotted around the country.
Under the new law, workers operating within a refugee camp, including volunteers and government civil servants, are not to publicly share any information related to the operations or residents of the camp — and this applies even after they stop working there.
The phrasing of the law also means that should a government employee witness any criminal acts they should report it to their superior, and nobody else.
In a statement, the NGO “Choose Love/Help Refugees” said in response “we cannot allow the truth about conditions in Greek camps to be hidden. This censorship will make it harder than ever to show the terrible conditions people face.”
An NGO worker, speaking on condition of anonymity to Forbes, said that the new law will not stop information from getting out. “The residents will get the word out, but it just highlights how draconian the new regime is. It’s an easy way to remove or prosecute NGOs and volunteers.”
Fears over new Lesvos camp
The new law comes just after Human Rights Watch released a report suggesting that the new camp on Lesvos could be contaminated with dangerous levels of lead, from its use as a military firing range.
“Firing ranges are commonly contaminated with lead from munitions; nevertheless the authorities did not conduct comprehensive lead testing or soil remediation before moving migrants to the site in September 2020,” the report said.
“Putting thousands of migrant adults and children, along with aid workers, on top of a former firing range without taking the necessary steps to guarantee they would not be exposed to toxic lead is unconscionable,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“The Greek authorities should promptly conduct a comprehensive site assessment of soil lead levels and release the results.”
In response to letters from Human Rights Watch, Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarakis stated in a November 19 letter that the camp had “no lead contamination.”
He also said that the government has agreed to conduct soil testing with the European Commission within one month.