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Violence against migrants at the EU’s border

In a report published on 16 December 2021, several associations working for the defence of migrants’ rights throughout Europe denounced considerable violent acts at the EU’s borders.

Since 2015, massive migrant waves have severely increased through Europe. These migration waves are mostly happening in eastern European countries as migrants are trying to reach western Europe via this route. For instance, in Hungary, migrants are often violently stopped and sent back to Serbia without any possibility of asking for asylum. In Bulgaria, refugees that are trying to escape from political persecution are automatically handed over to border guards without the slightest pity, and most of the time illegally. Finally, in Croatia and Greece, illegal returns of migrants are often associated with inhuman treatment. Indeed, when migrants are spotted, they are usually beaten, with kicks, punches or batons, sometimes for long hours. Then, at the border, their cell phones are confiscated or destroyed, and their clothes are often burned.

In their last report, the NGO Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) indicated that “85% of pushback testimonies collected in 2020 by BVMN contain one or more elements relating to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment”. Furthermore, the report shows other alarming figures: according to BVMN, 89% of the testimonies concerning Croatia mention an excessive use of force and 45% a forced stripping, while in Greece, 89% mention unwarranted beatings and 44% exposure. In accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Convention Against Torture, BVMN said that these kinds of violent acts should be considered as torture.

In 2020, Amnesty International called out the European Union by saying that they were ignoring the situation. Nowadays, they still describe the situation as “alarming” and especially the fact that Brussels “continues to ignore gross violations of EU laws and even continues to fund police and border operations in some countries” where these issues are present.

Mathilde ROZE

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