On 30th March 2021, the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) co-signed a letter to Commissioner Johansson alongside several other organisations regarding independent border monitoring mechanisms.
The letter put forward a firm stance on border monitoring, stating that the implementation of these mechanisms, particularly in the case of Croatia, should be fully compliant with fundamental rights, and that they should be “independent, meaningful and effective” to ensure violations at borders are fully investigated. Research by the The Guardian and MEPs has found systemic failings in the case of Croatia’s border monitoring mechanism, with deep questions marks over the lack of implementation, impartiality and mispent funds. The joint letter addressed the Croatian context as a key point in the development of EU-wide monitoring mechanisms, and stressed that any national agreement reached in Croatia that fell short of required standards would “set a bad precedent”.
In a recent policy analysis, BVMN looked in depth at the New Pact on Migration and Asylum in conjunction with Croatia’s existing monitoring apparatus, finding it stood as a symbol of bad practice. Moreover, within the context of succesive reports on the use of torture during pushbacks from Croatian territory, which in a recent publication by BVMN was demonstrated to have occured in 87% of recorded case in 2020, this lack of accountability is deeply concerning. The joint letter therefore urges for a robust and consistent set of standards to be ensured for national mechanisms, and that the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency is enabled to issue guidance for the implementation of border monitoring.
BVMN co-signed the letter alongside a range of organisations including ECRE, Amnesty International, Danish Refugee Council, Refugee Rights Europe, International Rescue Committee, JRS Europe, Oxfam International, Human Rights Watch, Save the Children, and network members Are You Syrious and Centre for Peace Studies. The signees concluded the letter by stressing that:
“A monitoring mechanism must be independent in law and practice; equipped with the necessary means to ensure that violations of rights at and in proximity to EU borders are recorded; that those responsible are held to account; and that justice for the individuals affected is guaranteed. The European Commission should not condone or support – either politically or financially – any mechanism that falls short of these standards.”
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