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Not again in 2024: Call for upholding human rights in the Samos Closed Controlled Access Centre

31 January 2024.

The Samos Closed Controlled Access Centre (CCAC) was advertised as the solution to “ensure adequate living conditions for all groups of residents and dignified reception conditions”, yet in 2023, the living conditions in the facilities amounted to inhumane and degrading treatment. As we start a new year, we call on the Greek authorities and the European Commission to take urgent action and unite our voices to say: human rights guaranteed in 2024.

Seeking asylum is a fundamental human right. Yet, for years, people have struggled to access the asylum procedure in Greece, including Samos, due to administrative constraints and physical obstacles, namely pushbacks and general border violence. 

On 3rd May 2023, Samos-based organisations issued a joint statement, calling for the immediate closure of the Samos CCAC in light of its continued failure to comply with human rights standards. Since the beginning of the operation of the Samos CCAC, civil society organisations were already alerting on the “prison-like and degrading” conditions in the structure.

An increase in arrivals on Samos, starting in August 2023, further proved the incapacity of the CCAC to accommodate people with dignity. The CCAC was originally designed to accommodate 2,040 people, which is significantly less than the number of people living in the CCAC between August and December last year. As of 31 December 2023, there were 3890 applicants for international protection registered in the CCAC. In September 2023, the authorities changed the official capacity of the CCAC to 3,650. This change of official capacity took place overnight without any public statement as to where and how the capacity was increased. We are however certain that this new capacity includes spaces that are unfit to accommodate people. To this day, newly arrived people are made to sleep in spaces such as kitchens and classrooms, without beds, mattresses, proper bathrooms, kitchens or any form of privacy.

De facto detention of newly arrived people.

Since the implementation of the CCAC, an automatic de facto detention regime has been put in place for newly arrived people. Once in Samos, and if not pushed back, people seeking international protection are first brought to the CCAC without being able to leave it until their registration procedures with the police and First Reception have been completed. 

According to Greek law, this de facto detention period (called in law the legal fiction of a “restriction of freedom”) is not supposed to exceed 25 days, while also this maximum 25-day restriction is provided by law only by way of exception. During this period, people who are denied exit from the CCAC, have no access to clean clothing, legal aid, and very limited medical support. Vulnerability assessments are not conducted, leaving pregnant women, unaccompanied minors, people with medical conditions or SGBV survivors without the proper care they need and are legally entitled to.

Legal organisations have consistently identified cases of applicants waiting more than 25 days for their initial police registration, sometimes recording detention periods of up to 58 days.This situation is a direct violation of the right to liberty under Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), risks infringement of Article 3 ECHR’s prohibition against torture and inhuman or degrading treatment and violates European and Greek law.

In September HRLP filed a request for interim measures in front of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on behalf of Z.H., a survivor of SGBV and S.T.H., and her 6 months old daughter who has a congenital heart disease. The ECtHR granted the interim measures and indicated to the government of Greece to ensure that the second applicant be provided with appropriate medical care and that both applicants should be ensured adequate living conditions, taking into account their extreme vulnerability. Despite this, many individuals are suffering from the same unlawful conditions.

CCAC conditions.

People continue to be subjected to treatment that is contrary to human dignity in the Samos CCAC. Individuals are reportedly being forced to sleep on the floor without a mattress or any form of privacy.

Moreover, the food they receive is both insufficient in quantity and of extremely poor quality.

In addition, due to water cuts, there have been extended periods without running water or it was only available for a few hours each day, resulting in daily water needs not being met.

Access to healthcare

Since the opening of the CCAC there has been a severe lack of staff, only one state-appointed doctor worked inside the medical unit of the facilities, for one month, between October and November 2023. In response, in 2022 MSF launched an emergency response to fill the gap in providing essential medical support to people in the CCAC. However, in 2023, MSF’s access to the CCAC was curtailed and at times restricted rendering the medical services close to nonexistent for people detained inside the facilities.

Additionally, and as it has already been extensively reported by MSF, applicants for international protection, many of whom have “previously gone through traumatic experiences find their mental health condition exacerbated by the prison-like conditions, the segregation and the security infrastructure”. Only one state-appointed psychologist is working inside the CCAC who is supposed to conduct the vulnerability assessments for newly arrived applicants in addition to providing mental health support. 

We, the undersigned organisations, once again call for the closure of the Samos CCAC and for adequate accommodation for people, within communities and in housing.

In the meantime, given the urgent need for humane conditions in the CCAC, we call on the Greek authorities and the European Commission to respect people’s fundamental rights by ensuring that

  • All people are adequately accommodated, including privacy and sleeping on a bed with a mattress and clean bedding 

  • The unlawful de facto detention of people upon arrival and awaiting registration of their asylum requests ends

  • Vulnerability assessments are conducted for every applicant for international protection

  • Medical care is accessible to everyone, regardless of their legal status

  • Daily water needs are met and a long-term solution is found to solve water shortages

  • Food of sufficient quantity and quality is available to everyone and queues in food distribution are minimised 

  • Transportation from the CCAC to other parts of the island is accessible to everyone

NOT AGAIN IN 2024_Joint Statement on Samos CCAC[1]
Download PDF • 119KB


Avocats Sans Frontières France

Better Days Greece

Κοινότητα Πάπα Ιωάννη 23 ου Community Pope John XXIII


Equal Legal Aid

Equal Rights Beyond Borders

Fenix Humanitarian Legal Aid

Greek Council for Refugees (GCR)

Human Rights Legal Project

I Have Rights.

Legal Centre Lesvos

Mobile Info Team

Project Armonia

Refugee Legal Support

Refugee Support Aegean (RSA)

Samos Volunteers


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