20 November 2015

According to a survey by the Belgrade Centre of Human Rights, released on 13 November, many refugees entering Serbia from Bulgaria, including unaccompanied minors, reported ill-treatment and abuses by the Bulgarian police.

Of more than a hundred refugees interviewed by the BCHR between 20 and 22 October, all those who had contacts with the Bulgarian police experienced either extortion, physical violence, robberies or attacks by police dogs. Some refugees witnessed shootings and threats of deportation to their country of origin.

Most of the incidents occurred at the Bulgarian border with Turkey, but also at the Serbian-Bulgarian border. Moreover, some refugees have been detained in closed centres in Sofia, Vrazhdebna or Busmantsi, where they have been abused by both the police and personnel.

Nikolina Milic of the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights said “The dramatic and shocking ill-treatment of people fleeing conflict and poverty is totally unacceptable, particularly in an EU member state. We are calling for an independent investigation into the incidents in Bulgaria, and we call on the Bulgarian government to condemn these human rights abuses in the strongest terms possible.”  

More than 200 refugees cross the Serbian-Bulgarian border on a daily basis, having walked through the mountains for several days. Most of them are from Afghanistan, but also from Syria and Iraq.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 20 November 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.