Joint Letter on Croatia’s Border Monitoring Mechanism

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.

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Response to Greek Ombudsman’s Interim Report on Pushbacks to Turkey

Cover from the BVMN Annual Torture Report 2020 (Design: Alexandra Kate Mitchell)

On 28th April, the Greek Ombudsman released an interim report on pushbacks of people-on-the-move from Greece to Turkey at the land border, in the area of the Evros river. This report is an update on the Ombudsman’s own-initiative investigation spread over a period of 3.5 years into allegations of pushbacks which was launched on 9 June 2017. Whilst the investigation continues, this interim report presents key aspects of the practices that have been reported, records how allegations have been responded to, and makes proposals for change.

In the written response published below, BVMN have called attention to some of the inconsistencies and shortcomings of the report, and put forward some key reccomendations for a full and proper investigation into pushback violations in the Evros region. One of the core contentions raised in BVMN’s letter relates to the assertion by the Ombudsperson that “traffickers and unidentified individuals” are responsible for pushbacks, and that Greek authorities tolerate, or at best play a facilitation role. While BVMN welcomes the recognition that pushbacks are occuring, the report grossly misrepresents the role of Greek authorities, who are the primary instigators of illegal removals to Turkey. Josoor, Mobile Info team and other anonymous members of BVMN have recorded over 6000 people pushed back from Greece to Turkey since 2019 – clearly implicating Greek authorities at the centre of these practices.

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Balkan Region Report – April 2021

In April, the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) reported on 42 pushbacks, impacting 1125 people-on-the-move at borders across the Balkans. This report brings together the latest first hand testimony and data on these incidents, highlighting the violent methods used by police across the EU external border. The report also looks at the involvement of other actors in violence at borders and interiors, such as right wing groups.

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Annual Torture Report 2020

Torture and pushbacks – an in depth analysis of practices in Greece and Croatia, and states participating in violent chain-pushbacks

This special report analyses data from 286 first hand testimonies of violent pushbacks carried out by authorities in the Balkans, looking at the way practices of torture have become an established part of contemporary border policing. The report examines six typologies of violence and torture that have been identified during pushbacks from Croatia and Greece, and also during chain-pushbacks initiated by North Macedonia, Slovenia and Italy. Across the report, 30 victim testimonies of torture and inhuman treatment are presented which is further supplemented by a comprehensive legal analysis and overview of the States response to these allegations. Continue reading “Annual Torture Report 2020”

Balkan Region Report – March 2021

In March, the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) recorded 31 pushback cases, impacting 671 people-on-the-move in the Balkans. This report looks at the direct and indirect violence that people face at borders in the region and the way border enforcement has adapted to maximise the abuse of transit communities. In profile were those killed at borders and interiors last month – directly because of the lack of safe passage into the EU.

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