Submission to EU Commission Feedback Mechanism on Data Protection

Border Violence Monitoring Network is an independent network of NGOs and collectives based on the so-called Balkan Route, Greece, and Turkey, which monitors Human Rights violations at the borders of the European Union and advocates to end the violence exerted against people-on-the-move (POM). BVMN came into existence in 2016, with the closure of the Balkan Route and the signing of the EU-Turkey Agreement, when several grassroots organizations started reporting on violent pushbacks of POM along the Balkans and Greece and began to document such cases. The Network has developed a common methodology for the recording of testimonials and supporting evidence which, after going through a process of fact-checking, are published on our website (see our database). Since 2018, the year of establishment of the EU Data Protection Regulation (EUDPR), BVMN has collected 1,372 pushback testimonies, affecting an estimated  24,401 people (BVMN, 2022). During pushbacks, BVMN has noticed a trend of ongoing and systematic violations of the personal data rights of POM, constituting serious violations of the Fundamental Right to protection of personal data as enshrined in Art. 8 (1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (CFR) and Article 16 (1) Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), as well as Art. 8 of  the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR).

With this submission, BVMN gives feedback to the EU Data Protection Regulation (EUDPR), drawing particular attention to data protection issues that arise during pushbacks. BVMN will particularly focus on the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), as well as on the use of drones as an increasingly used tool of data collection in border surveillance at the EU’s external borders.