About This Project

The reports that make up this database have been collected by volunteers in Serbia starting in 2016. These are mainly volunteers working with Rigardu, No Name Kitchen, Fresh Response, BelgrAid and Infopark, as well as independent persons. In our work at different locations in Serbia, we started to notice the effects of push-backs and, increasingly, physical violence on the people we were working with. Since we started documenting cases of violence on the border, the frequency of such incidents has been ever rising and the level of violence has reached shocking levels. In solidarity with the people suffering these abuses we decided to document and publish their stories, which are all too often forgotten.

By connecting among ourselves and sharing our experiences, we soon noticed that these were not isolated episodes limited to specific places, but rather part of a large-scale, systematic deterrence strategy effected by the authorities of EU member states. Although illegal push-backs are taking place throughout South-Eastern Europe, this database concentrates mostly on cases in Croatia and Hungary, since these are where most of our testimonies come from. While there have been many attempts to raise attention for this issue by actors such as MSF, Oxfam, Human Rights Watch, UNHCR and others [1], illegal and violent push-backs are still taking place today. 

The goal of this platform is the large-scale documentation of border violence  inflicted by officials of EU member states. It aims to unite as many reports as possible under one roof, thus rendering the systematic and planned character of this violence visible. In this way, the database can serve as a powerful tool to increase public awareness of this issue – it can serve as a basis of facts for journalists or when contacting ombudspersons or politicians.

Finally, then, its purpose is to raise pressure on the institutions and actors that are directly and indirectly responsible for the systematic violation of basic human rights on the borders of the European Union. These are not limited to the EU’s member states located on these borders – such as Croatia and Hungary –  and whose officials continue to beat and abuse people on the run. Given that all European countries have agreed to the Geneva Convention as well as the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union [2], it is their shared responsibility to impede the systematic violation of those treaties. Instead, the various measures taken to close the Balkan corridor are widely celebrated as successful and decreasing arrival numbers in central European countries are being portrayed by politicians as the results of effective European policy-making. However, what is not mentioned is how this new regime drives more and more people fleeing from war and persecution in their home countries into the arms of smugglers and violent border guards. 

The reports on this page were derived from testimonies given by victims of push-backs and police violence. Whenever we notice that someone has suffered violence, either by obvious injuries or because someone approaches us directly, we will conduct an interview to document their experiences. For this, we use a set of guidelines that are based on our own experiences, expert advice, as well as guidelines previously published by other organizations [3].

Where available, the testimonials are accompanied by fotos taken by the person conducting the interview, in order to document injuries sustained from police violence. We are aware of the fact that care is needed when publishing sensitive information of displaced persons, given that their situation makes them particularly vulnerable. Since the safety and integrity of the people we work with is our highest priority, all of our reports are completely anonymized. No information on this website is shared without explicit consent.

 

[1] Médecins sans frontières (03.10.2017): GAMES OF VIOLENCE, unaccompanied children and young people repeatedly abused by EU member state border authorities; http://www.msf.org/sites/msf.org/files/serbia-games-of-violence-3.10.17.pdf

UNHCR (2016): UNHCR Concerned Hungary Pushing Asylum Seekers Back to Serbia. http://www.unhcr.org/news/latest/2016/7/5788c85a4/unhcr-concernedhungary-pushing-asylum-seekers-serbia.html

Are You Syrious/Welcome Initative (05.03.2017): REPORT ON THE NEW WAVE OF VIOLENCE AGAINST REFUGEES ON CROATIAN BORDERS http://welcome.cms.hr/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/REPORT-ON-THE-NEW-WAVE-OF-VIOLENCE-AGAINST-REFUGEES-ON-CROATIAN-BORDERS.pdf

Oxfam (06.04.2017): A Dangerous ‘Game’ https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/bp-dangerous-game-pushback-migrants-refugees-060417-en_0.pdf

Human Rights Watch (2017): Croatia: Asylum Seekers Forced Back to Serbia. https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/01/20/croatia-asylum-seekers-forced-back-serbia

[2] For more information, see LEGAL FRAMEWORK

[3] These include guidelines by UNHCR, Hungarian Helsinki Committee and Fresh Response