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?

Speakers at the event:

-Moderator: Kristina Božič (Freelance journalist, Slovenia)

-𝐌𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐮𝐥𝐥𝐚𝐡 𝐌𝐚𝐭𝐢 (On the move/Turkey)

-𝗠𝗮𝗹𝗶𝗻 𝗕𝗷𝗼𝗿𝗸, MEP (Sweden)

-𝗧𝗶𝗻𝗲𝗸𝗲 𝗦𝘁𝗿i𝗸, MEP (Netherlands)

-𝗨𝗿𝘀̌𝗮 𝗥𝗲𝗴𝘃𝗮𝗿,PIC (Slovenia)

-𝗝𝗼𝘀̌𝘁 𝘇̌𝗮𝗴𝗮𝗿, Infokolpa (Slovenia)

-𝗠𝗶𝗹𝗲𝗻𝗮 𝗭𝗮𝗷𝗼𝘃𝗶𝗰́, Are You Syrious? (Croatia)

-𝗔𝗻𝘁𝗼𝗻𝗶𝗷𝗮 𝗣𝗶𝗻𝗱𝘂𝗹𝗶𝗰́, Center for Peace Studies (Croatia)

 

Years of evidence

In the past three years Slovenia has carried out more 26,000 readmissions of irregular migrants to Croatia. These “chain” pushback practices became systemic in Slovenia in spring 2018 under the government of Miro Cerar, and the same border regime continues to this day under the current government of Janez Janša. Numerous testimonies, videos and reports, many of which have been collated by the Border Violence Monitoring Network, show irrefutable evidence that Slovenian police are illegaly denying people’s right to asylum, and are willfully removing people to Croatian territory where torture, inhuman and degrading treatment are the norm. The webinar looks at the implications for the Slovenian Presidency, and its complicity in physical, psychological and torturous violence against people-on-the-move. The fact that persons removed from Slovenia to Croatia are then further pushed back to Bosnia and Herzegovina is not even an issue for the Slovenian government, as was stated by the current minister of interior Aleš Hojs who casually admitted so. The unchecked actions of police, undisclosed directives coming from top state officials, circumvention of official procedures and violation of basic rights all present reasons for concern, particularly in terms of respect for rule of law in Slovenia, and by extention the wider European Union under Slovenia’s Presidency.

Addressing the Presidency

Map of chain pushback routes from The Black Book of Pushbacks published by BVMN & GUE/NGL in December 2020.
The webinar looks at this wider dynamic, not least because the practice of chain-pushbacks to Bosnia-Herzegovina also involves readmissions initiated by Italy and Austria. We also discussed the financing of the border security apparatus which enables systemic violations done by the state police either along the Balkan Route and Aegean Sea, especially funds provided by the budget of the European Union. Border management, as we are increasingly seeing, is shaped by a web of criminal acts enacted by European member states and EU institutions. As Slovenia is taking over the Presidency we wish to publicly address some of these systemic illegal actions which threaten the most basic standards of democratic society.