Summary and analysis of pushbacks and internal violence documented by BVMN during the month of AUGUST
In August, the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) shared 13 testimonies of pushbacks impacting 354 people-on-the-move (POM) across the Balkans and Greece. This report brings together first-hand testimonies from a range of countries in the region to look at the way European Union states and other actors are affecting systemic violence towards people crossing borders.
The Border Violence Monitoring Network welcomes the call for evidence for the 2014 European Union Maritime Security Strategy (EUMSS) and its revised Action Plan (2018) as a possibility to contribute to the safety at sea through pointing at current lacks in compliance with UN, EU and national law and offering recommendations for the implementation of such within the newly formulated strategy.
With this submission, BVMN aims to contribute to the Maritime Security Strategy, drawing particular attention to severe violations of international law concerning people in distress at sea. BVMN will especially focus on the mounting securitization efforts through the increasing employment of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), as well as a strengthening of border surveillance strategies to the detriment of Search and Rescue. Finally, we are formulating recommendations on how the significant gap between international Human Rights legislation and its implementation through national and European actors can be reduced and the compliance with international law at Europe’s external border assured within the updated Maritime Security Strategy. Even though the expertise of BVMN lays on pushback incidents in the Aegean Sea, the following submission will also cover some developments in the Mediterranean Sea. Through that, we aim to point to the overall importance of a comprehensive and reliable implementation of international law at sea within renewed Maritime Security frameworks.
Summary and analysis of pushbacks and internal violence documented by BVMN during the month of JUly
In July, the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) shared 18 testimonies of pushbacks impacting 273 people-on-the-move (POM) across the Balkans and Greece. This report brings together first-hand testimonies from a range of countries in the region to look at the way European Union states and other actors are affecting systemic violence towards people crossing borders.
On the 16th August at 06.26 EEST, the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) was alerted to a group of Syrian and Turkish asylum seekers stranded on an islet in the Evros river close to Didymoteicho, in Greek territory. The Syrian nationals of the group stated that they were seeking asylum due to the war in their country which has placed them at risk of serious physical harm, and the Turkish nationals are from the Kurdish minority and therefore at risk of persecution in Turkey. They reported that they had been stuck on the islet since the 14th August 2022. The group includes nine women, 16 children and eight individuals who are particularly vulnerable and require medical attention. One is four months pregnant, two are asthmatic, one is diabetic and suffers from high blood pressure, another suffers from high blood pressure, two of the children are having difficulty breathing, and another child has a severe visual impairment. Weimmediatelyrelayed this information to the competent authorities: the Hellenic Police, Frontex,theOmbudsperson,theNationalHumanRightsInstitution,andUNHCR.Our operatives on the ground called the emergency 112 line at 18.23 EEST on 16th August who assured us that they were aware of the group and a search and rescue (SAR) operation was underway. The following morning, on 17th August at 09.27 EEST the group again shared their live location which showed them on the islet, stating that nobody had approached the islet the previous evening or over the night.
At the start of July, BVMN published a report on the phenomenon of groups being stranded on islets in the Evros river border between Greece and Turkey, and the increasing frequency with which human rights groups are filing for interim measures at the ECtHR. In the report, we highlighted the shifting modus operandi of human rights violations at the Evros border and the concurrent criminalisation of those responding to them. Read alongside the recent investigation by Lighthouse Reports, LeMonde, Spiegel, the Guardian, and ARD76 which uncovered systematic exploitation of people-on-the-move, it is evident that the mass proliferation of human rights violations in Greece are contributing to an overall erosion of the rule of law.
The following briefing details political responses that followed the publication of the report, updates on the situation regarding pushbacks in the Evros region in the last month, and recommendations to the Greek government, European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX), and the European Commission.