January 30, 2017
The Law Society of Upper Canada* expresses grave concern about the harassment of lawyer Electra Koutra in Greece.
Electra Koutra is a human rights lawyer who has experienced harassment as a result of her advocacy on behalf of several Syrian refugees.
It has come to our attention that on September 27, 2016, several Syrian refugees between the ages of 13 and 16 were on their way to a cultural centre to take part in a theatrical performance about their lives in Syria when they were intercepted by Greek police and taken into custody on suspicion that they were members of an armed group.
Electra Koutra represented the children and their parents as they attempted to report the incident and file a complaint. When precluded from doing so, she posted a statement on her Facebook page, disclosing that the children had been ill-treated by the police and that their attempt to lodge a complaint had been blocked. The Facebook post went viral and culminated in an order for a criminal pre-investigation into the incident.
Shortly thereafter, Electra Koutra experienced several acts of harassment. She and a colleague were served a court summons in which they were listed as “suspects” in the said case. When they demanded access to the case file, a right granted under Greek law to “suspects”, the summons was re-issued with Electra Koutra and her colleague described as “witnesses”. One day later, two men in civilian clothes – later identified as police officers – broke into her apartment. Electra Koutra reported the incident and requested that the Head of Prosecutors remove her home address from the case file in order to protect her family. Her request was denied. Instead, her request for family protection was added to the case file, resulting in her address being even more publicly available. Additionally, an internal document leaked to the press indicated that the police were increasing security measures to avoid a strike against the police itself in response to Electra Koutra’s report concerning the break-in into her home.