A 1,500-page “black book” documenting hundreds of illegal rejections of asylum seekers by authorities at Europe’s external borders was published last week and handed over to the EU commission.
Compiled by the watchdog Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) organization, the Black Book of Rejections is a collection of 892 group testimonies detailing the experiences of 12,654 victims of human rights violations along the Balkan migration route, one of the most exhausting of the recent migratory crisis given the alleged violence of border police agents.
Every day thousands of people, mainly from South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, try to cross the Balkans to reach Europe. It is an arduous journey with virtually no welcoming facilities for the migrants, who are forced to spend most of the journey in makeshift camps or train stations.
For years, charities have denounced abuses, especially in Croatia, as asylum seekers are systematically beaten, robbed and rejected. Between January and November 2020, the Danish Refugee Council recorded 15,672 returns from Croatia to Bosnia-Herzegovina, of which more than 60% were allegedly violent.
“This book, which brings together four years of work, points to a huge gap in the responsibility of the perpetrating authorities, including member states and EU agencies, such as Frontex,” Simon Campbell, BVMN field coordinator, told The Guardian. . “The testimonies, consigned here on paper, represent a definitive archive of evidence, detailing the systematic violations against people on the move, such as violations of international law on asylum and return, as well as the prohibition of torture.”
More than 15 organizations have contributed to the book, which contains maps, data, photos and other key information and was produced in collaboration with the United Left bloc of the European Parliament.
Last Friday, Malin Björk, a member of the Parliament’s civil liberties, justice and home affairs commission, and Miguel Urbàn, co-founder of the Spanish political party Podemos, presented and delivered the Black Book to the EU asylum commissioner, Ylva Johansson , in Brussels.
Speaking about the launch of the Black Book, German MEP Cornelia Ernst said: “We have been so shocked by the endless accounts of ruthless, sadistic and degrading violence, reminiscent of brutal dictatorships. The Black Book sheds much-needed light on this dark chapter of the EU. Our hope is that it contributes to ending these crimes and holding responsible governments to account. “
“Although these allegations are rejected by the perpetrating countries, what we provide on these pages is an analysis of patterns and photographic evidence that reveal a systematic and ongoing practice,” said Hope Barker, spokesperson for BVMN.
“And these are just the stories that the network has managed to record. The reality is much broader and more far-reaching.
“We call for an end to impunity and a renewed commitment to accountability, which will work to end these brutal human rights violations,” he said.
In Bosnia-Herzegovina, some 1,200 migrants and asylum seekers live in miserable conditions in the Lipa tent camp in Una-Sana canton, an unsuitable place for winter. The International Organization for Migration said it would close the camp as Bosnian authorities had ignored its calls to help provide basic services.
Thousands of migrants in Bosnia-Herzegovina could soon face an impossible choice: fend for themselves in abandoned buildings and squatters, or attempt to cross the border into Croatia and the EU, hoping to escape the violence of the border police.
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