Launch Event: The Black Book of Pushbacks

First edition of the 1500 page book on illegal cross-border pushbacks (GUE/NGL)

Today the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) are releasing a landmark publication on illegal border pushbacks. The ‘Black Book of Pushbacks’ brings together a wealth of evidence on these violations, analysing in detail the way that these brutal acts have become systematised at the external border and renewing calls to end impunity for perpetrating EU authorities.

A 1500-page ‘Black Book’ that documents the horrific violence suffered by over 12,000 people at the hands of authorities on the EU’s external borders has been released today – International Migrants Day – by The Left in the European Parliament. Compiled by BVMN and printed over two volumes, the ‘Black Book of Pushbacks’ is a collection of hundreds of testimonies of migrants and asylum seekers who have experienced human rights violations at external borders.

Contents of the ‘Black Book’

Pushbacks are illegal under international law, but member state authorities have long ignored such breaches of human rights which are contrary to the EU’s founding principles and international obligations. This ‘Black Book’ only includes incidents that have been directly recorded by BVMN; the real number of victims is likely to be much higher. The book covers:

    • A total of 892 group testimonies detailing the experiences of 12,654 people.
    • The violence many endured in Italy, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary along the so-called ‘Balkan route’ including maps, data, photos and other key information.
    • The types of suffering and violence perpetrated by border agents, member state police forces, soldiers – even guard dogs.
    • Documented incidents that could be clearly described as sadistic, merciless, humiliating and degrading treatment.

Statements from the launch

By bringing to light the suffering, Left MEPs & BVMN want EU institutions and member state governments to be held accountable for the inhumane and degrading treatment of the people. As part of the launch, Left MEPs Malin Björk & Miguel Urbán will be symbolically presenting the Black Book to EU Commissioner for Asylum Ylva Johansson in Brussels at 10:00 today.

Speaking on the launch of the ‘Black Book’, German MEP Cornelia Ernst (Die Linke) says:

“During my time at the European Parliament, I have visited many places inside and outside the EU borders: Lampedusa, Lesvos, Edirne, Bihać, Preševo. Wherever we went, we found children, women and men who had been suffering. In recent years, however, the situation has become even worse. We have been so shocked by endless accounts of merciless, sadistic and degrading violence that are reminiscent of brutal dictatorships. This ‘Black Book’ sheds some much-needed light on this dark chapter of the EU. Our hope is that it will contribute to bringing an end to the crimes, and to hold accountable the governments that are responsible.”

Hope Barker, spokesperson for BVMN, added:

“This book brings together four years of work by BVMN, collecting nearly 900 testimonies of violent push-backs at European borders. Although these accusations are met with denial from the perpetrating countries, what we provide within these pages is an analysis of patterns and photo evidence that reveal an ongoing systematic practice. And these are just the stories that the Network has managed to record, the reality is much wider and more far-reaching. We call for an end to impunity, and a renewed commitment to accountability, both of which will work towards the end of such brutal human rights violations.”

You can read the Black Book in full by downloading Volume I and Volume II here:

Selection of Translated Press Releases:

بيان صحفي عربي

Hrvatsko priopćenje

Sporočilo za javnost

If you have any questions related to this publication you can contact BVMN via: press@borderviolence.eu. If you want to receive the monthly report from Border Violence Monitoring Network, you can subscribe here:

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