Take Action

Help us 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, it is their shared responsibility to impede the systematic violation of those treaties.

By writing an e-mail to the European Ombudsperson or their colleague in Hungary, Croatia or Slovenia, you can make your voice heard and help to bring the issue to political debate. You can either use the text provided below or write your own message.

European Ombudsperson: https://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/shortcuts/contacts.faces

Croatia: info@ombudsman.hr

Hungary: hungarian.ombudsman@ajbh.hu

Slovenia: info@varuh-rs.si 

 

Dear Sir or Madam,

I write to you as a concerned citizen of the European Union. 

Every day, the very values promoted by the EU are compromised at its external borders with Serbia: As is documented in a database at www.borderviolence.eu, representatives of the EU member states Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia beat, torture, and steal from people who are coming to Europe for protection.

At least 857 people, including many under-aged, have suffered beating, kicking, electric shocks and even dog bites, were deprived of their belongings including their clothes, and forced to wait for hours at below-zero temperatures. The first in-depth documentation of individual cases shows to what extent illegal push-backs accompanied by police violence have become daily fare on the mentioned EU borders. With many occurrences undocumented, the actual number of cases is likely to be much higher.

While the borders between our member states have been erased, our external borders are the deadliest in the world. Left without any legal ways to enter the EU, people are being driven onto more and more dangerous routes and into the arms of smugglers and violent border guards. With winter approaching, and people becoming more and more desperate, it is likely that things will get worse and more people will die.

Push-Backs and police violence violate international law, in particular the Geneva Convention, The European Charter of Human Rights and, essentially, Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Facing these developments, immediate political action is necessary in order to stop a) a humanitarian catastrophe and b) the EU’s failure to abide by its own values.

I call on you, as the European Ombudsman, to take action regarding the treatment of asylum seekers and migrants on our external borders. As the problem concerns the EU as whole, I strongly insist on you raising the issue of ongoing mistreatment on the European arena: every individual declaring the will to apply for the asylum should be granted such an opportunity. 

I call on the EU, and on you as the EU’s official, to stand by its principles and comply with its own legal order. 

Yours sincerely,

_________

 

 

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Where the Law Is Being Broken

Modern asylum law is based on the conviction that every individual has a right to apply for international protection in case their life is threatened in their country of origin. Most national and international regulations concerning asylum are based on the 1951 Geneva Convention (Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees) [1], which, developed shortly after WW2, is still the most important international law act regulating refugees law. In line with the basic right to apply for asylum, the Geneva Convention includes the principle of non-refoulement (Art. 32, 33). Non-refoulement forbids states from returning anyone declaring the will of applying for asylum to a place in which they would be in likely danger of persecution. While there is no international legal definition of the term push-back, it can be understood as any behaviour violating the general rule of non-refoulement. Not allowing a person seeking protection the right to apply for asylum is generally an infringement of the Geneva Convention and as such should be considered a violation of international law. Collective expulsions of whole groups, as they are conducted by several EU member states, deny each individual in this group the right to apply for asylum and explain their specific and individual reasons.

The principle of non-refoulement has been introduced in article 33 of the Geneva Convention. However, it has also been adopted as part of legal acts regulating or referring to asylum on the European level. Since all legal acts on asylum that are adopted by the European Union have to be in accordance with international law, push-backs are illegal both from the perspective of international and European law. Examples of EU regulations can be found in Art. 18 and 19 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of European Union [2] and in Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council [3] of 26 June 2013 on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection.  

Thus, the obligation to comply with the international law and standards on refugee protection lies with all countries that signed up to the 1951 Geneva Convention – including all member states of the European Union [4]. Since all of the latter have also signed up to EU principles and regulations on its common asylum system [5] and are members of the Council of Europe, their responsibility is a double one. It is the responsibility of all member states to ensure that their common principles are not ignored on the external borders of the European Union.

 

[1] The 1951 Geneva Convention and the 1967 protocol relating to the status of refugees http://www.unhcr.org/protect/PROTECTION/3b66c2aa10.pdf

[2] CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION http://www.europarl.europa.eu/charter/pdf/text_en.pdf

[3] Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/ALL/?uri=celex%3A32013L0032

[4] Parties of the Geneva Convention https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_Relating_to_the_Status_of_Refugees#/media/File:Refugeeconvention.PNG

[5] Common European Asylum System https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/asylum_en