Balkan Region Report – June 2021

Summary and analysis of pushbacks and internal violence documented by BVMN during the month of June.

In June 2021, the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) reported on a total of 30 pushbacks, impacting a combined number of 1,073 people-on-the-move at borders across the Balkans. The reports illustrate a range of different tactics and rights breaches which have become embedded in EU border enforcement. BVMN is a network of watchdog organisations active in Greece and the Western Balkans including No Name Kitchen, Rigardu, Are You Syrious, Mobile Info Team, Disinfaux Collective, Josoor, [re:]ports Sarajevo, InfoKolpa, Centre for Peace Studies, Mare Liberum, IPSIA, Collective Aid and Fresh Response.

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Slovenia & chain pushbacks: A dishonest broker of the New Pact on Asylum and Migration

A webinar event hosted by network member Infokolpa & BVMN took place on Monday 15th July 2021, addressing the issue of rights abuses at Slovenian borders on the eve of the Slovenian Presidency of the European Union.

 

The Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU, which began at the start of July 2021, will strive in pushing the legislative agenda on the New Pact on Migration and Asylum and “strengthening the Schengen Area”. In this light, it is important to reflect on the current state of migration and asylum policy in the presiding country, and the (mal)practice which Slovenia is seeking to entrench. Since 2018, Slovenia has been involved in massive and systemic denials of asylum rights and collective expulsion to Croatia. This webinar discusses the guise of legality used to initiate these chain pushbacks, and the numerous reports and court judgements that have exposed the subsequent risks of torture during pushback from Croatia, as well as the inhuman conditions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this context, speakers from across the region asked: How can a country responsible for mass violations of Human Rights be an honest broker in the preparations of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum?

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Presentation of the “Black Book of Pushbacks” in Vienna

On Friday 18th June 2021 at 10:00am the “Black Book of Pushbacks”, a 1500 page dosier recounting the direct experience of people at borders across the Balkans, was presented in Minoritenplatz, Vienna, infront of the Austrian Interior Ministry.
The two volumes published in December 2020 (GUE/NGL)

The book was published in collaboration with The Left in the European Parliament and contains 900 testimonies of border violence, and thus fundamental rights violations, experienced by 13,000 people-on-the-move. It is being presented for the first time in Austria, having been launched last December in the Brussels and various other national parliaments such as the German Bundestag.

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Balkan Region Report – May 2021

Summary and analysis of pushbacks and internal violence documented by BVMN during the month of May.

The Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) reported on 43 instances of pushbacks impacting a total of 760 people in May. The reports illustrate a range of different tactics and rights breaches which have become embedded in EU border enforcement, including extreme physical and racialised violence. BVMN is a network of watchdog organisations active in Greece and the Western Balkans including No Name Kitchen, Rigardu, Are You Syrious, Mobile Info Team, Disinfaux Collective, Josoor, [re:]ports Sarajevo, InfoKolpa, Centre for Peace Studies, Mare Liberum, IPSIA, Collective Aid and Fresh Response.

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BVMN join Statewatch in a Letter of Concern to Frontex

Today the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) sent a joint letter alongside colleagues from Statewatch to express concern over the involvement of Frontex in pushbacks from North Macedonia to Greeece. The correspondence urges investigation into five incidents recorded by BVMN where Frontex personel reportedly took part in the pushback of transit groups.

 

Addressing the head of Frontex’s Fundamental Rights Office Jonas Grimheden, Director of the Agency Fabrice Leggeri, and all Members of the Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights, the letter listed cases of pushbacks and fundamental rights violations documented over the past two years at the North Macedonian-Greek border. Oral testimonies given to BVMN by people who have directly experienced this border violence are included in the letter. They not only detail violent processes of cross-border removal, but also the overt presence of officers matching the visual description of Frontex. This evidence comes despite there being “no legal authority for officials deployed by Frontex to act on North Macedonian territory”.

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