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Europe rights chief says Greece can ban neo-Nazi party

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

A top Europe rights official warned Tuesday of a surge in racist hate crimes in Greece, urging the country to ban extremist neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, implicated in many of the attacks.

The Council of Europe's human rights commissioner Nils Muiznieks wrote in a report published Tuesday after a recent visit to Greece that government had failed to take proper action over a rise in hate crimes, particularly targeting migrants.

The report hones in on the Golden Dawn political party, reminding government that it was "possible to impose effective penalties, and even prohibition if necessary" against the extreme far-right group.

"A number of the attacks have been linked to members or supporters, including parliamentarians, of the neo-Nazi political party 'Golden Dawn'", read the report.

Once a secretive group on the fringes of Greek politics, Golden Dawn picked up over 400,000 votes in a June election dominated by anti-austerity anger, winning 18 spots in a 300-seat parliament.

Members of the party, including lawmakers, have been implicated in 17 violent attacks against immigrants between June and October 2012, the report says.

A few days before Muiznieks' visit to Greece, a Pakistani migrant worker in Athens was stabbed to death by two people, one of whom was later proved to be linked to Golden Dawn.

Muiznieks said it was clear that from its ideological documents that "Golden Dawn is a party that is against parliamentary democracy, and treats it with contempt".

The report also raises extensive concerns about reports of ill-treatment and torture of migrants and Roma, and the "disregard for human rights standards" by the Greek police.

He said reports of police colluding with the neo-Nazi party "have dealt an extremely damaging blow to public confidence not only in the police, but in the Greek state as a whole".

Muiznieks said it was "regrettable that the Greek parliament's reaction to hate speech has been weak".

In one example given, there was no strong reaction by parliament to "extreme hate speech" when Golden Dawn MP Eleni Zaroulia last year referred to migrants in Greece as "sub-humans who have invaded our country, with all kinds of diseases".

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130416/europe-rights-chief-says-greece-can-ban-neo-nazi-party