A new report “Pushed back at the Door”  by five human rights NGOs shows that access to protection is increasingly limited in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia. The report urges European governments to find the right balance between protecting borders and people.

The report highlights that there have been increased border controls including the construction of physical barriers in Bulgaria and Hungary. In both countries concerns over police violence towards asylum seekers persist, in Hungary especially in regard to the “push-back law” and in Bulgaria in regard to the interception of asylum seekers who have crossed into the country irregularly. In the Czech Republic and Poland the main concerns lie in the lack of transparency and oversight of border control  have led to violations of the principle of non-refoulement by border guards. In Slovenia access to the territory is very difficult, although these issues are currently being discussed.

Among the recommendations, the report concludes that there is a need for the introduction of effective border control mechanisms involving external actors that monitor and train staff and have full access to border check-points. Furthermore, the report calls on NGOs and international organization to cooperate in producing informational materials for asylum-seekers and to follow up on human rights violations.

Aniko Bakonyi, Co-author of the report and Advocacy Officer at ECRE Member organisation the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC) told ECRE, “While increased border controls and physical barriers, have proven to be ineffective as they cannot divert refugees from seeking protection, the wide-spread nature of violent push-backs in Bulgaria and Hungary is of serious concern. The direct result of these policies might be best described by those that are directly affected, such as an Afghan refugee child who was exposed to police violence in Hungary and who HCC interviewed who stated ‘This is not Europe.’”

For further information: