The EU Comission’s answer

We’re looking back at our approaches to bring Border Violence Monitoring to the European Parliament: In June 2018, a request was submitted by Dietmar Köster (MoP, S&D) in a meeting of the Committee of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament. Köster questioned the role of Frontex in the context of human rights violations at the borders of Hungary, Croatia and Serbia. (See https://www.borderviolence.eu/border-violence-monitoring-goes-european-parliament/) We worked together with him preparing the request that was based on our database as well as material collected by other NGOs.

At the same time and likewise referring to our sources, Mr Köster submitted a written request to the EU Commission, asking for a „Statement on border police practices that violate human rights in the EU Member States of Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia“ (http://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-8-2018-003085_EN.html). The questions were, amongst other things, directed at the EU Commission’s position towards the Hungarian Ministry of Interior playing down the violence used by Hungarian, Croatian and Slovenian border forces. Further, he was asking about actual measures that will be taken by the EU Commission considering mass deportations taking place in Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia.

We recieved an answer from EU commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos a few weeks ago:

In 2015, the Commission decided to launch an infringement procedure against Hungary regarding Hungary’s migration and asylum rules, notably the lack of effective access to the asylum procedure, the fact that the rules relating to the use of a border procedure are not respected and the systematic and indefinite detention of asylum applicants in transit zones without providing for procedural guarantees as well as the fact that migrants (including asylum-seekers) are summarily returned to Serbia. The infringement procedure is ongoing. (See http://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-8-2018-003085-ASW_EN.html)

As these lapses of Hungary’s migration policy are well-known since 2015 and EU investigations have been ongoing since then, the answer is quite unsatisfactory to us. The time this delayed infringement takes, the status quo is kept up at the Hungarian borders which means ongoing human rights violations. But at least, the situation is not being denied any more by the Commission.

Furthermore, the comissioner wrote:

The measures to protect the EU external borders need to be implemented in full respect of the fundamental rights. As regards the alleged use of force at the Hungarian border, the Commission continues to monitor closely the situation on the ground and will take all appropriate steps in case/if any evidence of infringement of EC law is supplied to it.

We would be happy if the Commission, instead of continuing to monitor the situation as “closely” as they did for the last years, they would start serious investigations about everyday breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights that we – as a small NGO with capacities not comparable to the EU Commission’s at all – continue to witness.

The Commission is also in contact with Croatian authorities concerning the implementation of the Common European Asylum System, including concerning allegations of third-country nationals being denied the possibility to apply for international protection in Croatia. Such allegations should be subject to credible investigations by the Croatian authorities according to national law.

Even though the national government of Croatia should react to the allegations, it should also be in the interest of the EU Commission to guarantee their own standards. Instead of that, responsibility for the failure of the European Asylum System is again shifted to one of the Balcan states.