The Paranesti detention centre opened on 28 September 2012 with a capacity of 557 within a former military site. It is composed of four distinct fenced-in single-storey accommodation blocks, each with its own yard, and two small administrative buildings. When the centre was visited in 2013 by the CPT delegation, it held 324 people. However, as the delegation found out, 17 juveniles along with 50 adults had been moved two days prior to the visit. Notwithstanding the fact that the centre was not at its full capacity, the large dormitories were crammed with beds, made worse by the fact that people only had access to the outdoor area for one and a half hours a day. The delegation observed mould and leaking in the toilet area. Lack of hygiene products and the provision of activities were some of the main concerns among detainees. Staff had no meaningful contact with them and they were seen carrying batons when entering the cells, reinforcing the violent aspect of their role.
While a doctor and a nurse were provided by MSF for a short period of time in 2012 and 2013, there has been only limited medical provision since. Located 25km from the next biggest city, Drama, and almost 200 km away from Thessaloniki, this is a difficult site for visitors or relatives to access. In any case, visits take place through the fence with the police always in earshot.
Protesting against the conditions of their detention 23 migrants began a hunger strike on 23rd March 2015. ‘Our demand is to be free and as human being this is the right of each persons to freely live in every community’ wrote one of those on hunger strike. During the first days of the strike, migrants were intimidated and threatened with relocation to different detention centres across the country. However, the strike lasted until April 8th, making this one of the longest hunger strikes in the history of detention centres in Greece.
Perhaps as a response to this event and to other similar protests, the authorities have attempted to provide a slightly different regime in Drama. When Aitima visited the centre in 2016, it found the conditions of detention and access to activities generally adequate. Detainees were allowed to use their phones and have access to fresh air every day, while the dormitories now featured TVs, books, table games and areas of worship. Detainees were also regularly provided with hygiene items and could also engage in vegetable cultivation. Nevertheless, unaccompanied minors were regularly detained for a period of three to four months in conditions not suitable for children. As the police captain at the Paranesti detention center explained, “There’s no screening here. We don’t have the knowledge….We are police officers, not psychologists or educators. We need special staff to take care of the minors.”
As of the end 2018 there were no doctors visiting the facility, nor any psychologists or social workers. There were five nurses available for most of the days. Delays of registering asylum claims have also been observed here. Furthermore, there were again complaints about the lack of sufficient hygiene and non-food items, including clothes and shoes, clean mattresses and clean blankets.
[the above is constantly updated]