ATHENS, Greece (JTA) — A report released by the Council of Europe says that Greece could legally ban the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party, which has been linked to a number of violent, racist attacks.
The 32-page report by the France-based council was issued Tuesday by its human rights commissioner, Nils Muiznieks, following a fact-finding mission to Greece earlier this year.
The report said Muiznieks was “seriously concerned by the increase in racist and other hate crimes in Greece,” and that “a number of the reported attacks have been linked to members or supporters, including MPs, of the neo-Nazi political party ‘Golden Dawn.’ ”
It said that under existing Greek legislation and under treaties signed by Athens, Greece had the legal means to take steps against Golden Dawn, including banning the party.
“The Commissioner calls on the Greek authorities to be highly vigilant and use all available means to combat all forms of hate speech and hate crime, and to end impunity for these crimes,” the report said.
The Greek media said the Greek government had sent the council a response indicating that it was unlikely to ban Golden Dawn.
“Solutions cannot be the products of emotional responses, which could backfire or bring about unwanted results,” the Eleftherotypia newspaper quoted the Greek government’s response as saying.
A statement on the Golden Dawn website dismissed the report, saying the Council of Europe was a “Zionist institution.”
The Council of Europe, which is based in Strasbourg, runs the European Court of Human Rights.
Golden Dawn emerged on the political scene last year, winning 7 percent of the vote, or 18 seats, in the 300-member Greek Parliament. Recent polls have indicated the party, which runs on a fiercely anti-immigrant platform, now has 14 percent to 18 percent of the population’s support.
Jewish and international groups groups have condemned Golden Dawn as racist and anti-Semitic.