25 September 2015

Refugees and asylum seekers are routinely subjected to violence, inhuman treatments and abuses by the Macedonian police at the border with Greece and in the Gazi Baba detention centre, documents Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a report released on Monday 21 September.

Refugees apprehended by the police at the Greek-Macedonian border told HRW that they have been beaten with batons, kicked and humiliated with verbal insults. Some of them have been sent back to Greece and denied the possibility to seek international protection.

Until July 2015, asylum seekers, including children and pregnant women, have been arbitrarily and systematically put in detention at the overcrowded Gazi Baba centre, for days or even months. HRW documents they have been forced to live in inhuman and degrading conditions, without access to water, food or sanitation. In addition, many have been victim of ill-treatments and physical abuses committed by the Macedonian authorities, including sexual violence against women.

A new law was approved in July 2015 allowing refugees to legally stay and move across Macedonia within 72 hours. As a result, asylum seekers are not currently routinely detained in degrading conditions at Gazi Baba. However, “[Macedonia’s] asylum and migration practices still fall short of its obligations under national, EU, and international law,” said Emina Ćerimović, Koenig fellow at Human Rights Watch.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 25 September 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.