The Border Violence Monitoring Network, along with other NGOs, have signed the following letter.
Croatia’s Schengen membership should be halted until human rights are respected
Today, Croatia received the green light from the European Commission to enter the border-free Schengen Area. While we agree that expanding the Schengen space could be a positive and much-needed move towards improvement of free movement inside the European Union, Croatia’s Schengen membership should be made conditional on the immediate end to the Croatian Government’s illegal and violent push-back of migrants. Such practice at the soon-to-become Schengen border not only directly violates provisions of the Schengen Border Code, but represents a violation of international and EU law, including the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees.
The Border Violence Monitoring Network has just published it’s September report analyzing collated testimony of pushbacks and police violence in the Western Balkans. The case material covers extensive violations along Croatia’s border with Bosnia-Herzegovina, chain refoulement from Slovenia, pushbacks from Hungary to Serbia, and incidents from the North Macedonian -Greek border.
Last week saw autumn rains sweep through Bosnia and Herzegovina, marking the season’s change. For most people, it means gradually escaping into their homes and into warmth; for the people-in-transit mired in northwestern Bosnia, a seasonal desperation sinks in. In spite of the brutal border regime of Croatia, Slovenia and their EU patrons, people keep moving in search of safety.
So too the local people of Bihać forge their way through this ongoing story. The northwestern city has kept a vigil now for over eighteen months, hearing the same cycle of empty promises around camps, facilities and change. Yet Bihać is bracing itself again for winter, and as before, people are forced to do things themselves.
The Border Violence Monitoring Network has just published it’s August report summarizing the current situation regarding pushbacks and police violence in the Western Balkans, primarily in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Serbian borders with Croatia and Hungary, but also including Italy, Slovenia, North Macedonia and Greece.
In July, illegal cross-border pushbacks continued at an increasingly institutionalized level along the EU’s external borders throughout the Balkans. Politicians, encouraged by unclear signals from the EU, have made clear that pushbacks operations are organized from the highest level of government. Varying levels of violence are employed by police officers during the apprehension, detention and return operations, creating a deterrence effect.