The Illegal Pushbacks & Border Violence Reports from the Border Violence Monitoring Network documents the continuation of systematic and widespread violence and abuse of people in transit along the Western Balkan route including the use of firearms during pushbacks.
According to the report the use of firearms during pushbacks is an exponentially increasing trend, not a question of a few tragic cases. Nineteen per cent of recorded pushback cases from Croatia involved the use of guns either used to target or threaten people in transit. Across the Balkan Region, BVMN has recorded 107 incidents of gun use by police.
While the use of arbitrary detention in harsh conditions, severe physical abuse and psychological violence are systematic features of Croatian pushbacks, the phenomenon of illegal pushbacks is happening across the region. The report includes cases of chain pushbacks from Italy to Bosnia and Herzegovina via Slovenia and Croatia and pushbacks from Greece to Turkey in the Evros region. Further, the report includes mass removals, of close to 10,000 people in the first ten month of 2019, through a readmission agreement from Slovenia to Croatia from where people are collectively expelled to Bosnia-Herzegovina or Serbia.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, the lack of formal accommodation and the violent removal of people and informal settlements leaves people in transit, including unaccompanied children, at risk.
In October 2019, the Border Violence Monitoring Network recorded 22 interviews revealing the pushback of 230 people. Seventeen were cases of pushbacks to Bosnia and Herzegovina, one a chain pushback from Italy, two from Slovenia, and fourteen direct pushbacks from Croatia. Three cases were pushbacks to Serbia, one a chain pushback from Slovenia, and two direct pushbacks from Croatia. Two cases were pushbacks to Turkey from Greece.
For further information:
- ECRE, Bosnia and Herzegovina: Authorities Remove Hundreds from Notorious Vucjak Camp, December 2019
- ECRE, Editorial: Croatia’s Schengen Accession: Reinforcing Legal Red Lines Not Borders, October 2019
- ECRE, Systemic Pushbacks and Border Violence Continue in the Balkans, October 2019
- AIDA, AIDA Country Update Croatia 2018, March 2019
- AIDA, AIDA Country Update Serbia 2018, March 2019