Migrants seeking to cross into the European Union are systematically being pushed back at the borders. The seventh report from Protecting Rights at Borders (PRAB) once again documents how illegal pushbacks have evolved into an accepted tool for border management.
Beaten by the police, bitten by border dogs, and robbed of all belongings. Humiliated and left in the forest with no food or water. No phone, no ID, and nowhere to go.
These are just some of the horrifying experiences from people trying to cross European borders, according to testimonies in the new seventh Protecting Rights at Borders Report (PRAB) "Surprisingly Surprised".
The report brings new data that reconfirms the systematic pushback practices that continue at multiple EU borders and once again verifies that these unlawful acts have evolved into an accepted tool for border management.
From 1 May to 31 August 2023, DRC and its PRAB partners across Europe have documented a staggering 9,515 pushback incidents. Of these 9.515 instances, 2.030 persons underwent a thorough interview processed by a PRAB partner and one out of three were children.
The report highlights numerous reports of violence, inhuman and degrading treatment, and a lack of access to asylum procedures. But while the number is high, the documented data is still believed to represent only a fraction of the actual illegal pushbacks occurring at European Union borders.
Maja Łysienia, Strategic Litigation Expert, Association for Legal Intervention:
“With parliamentary elections in Poland coming up on 15 October, migration has become a contested and politicized theme in the country. The ruling party encourages Poles to vote in the anti-migration referendum and to boycott the new movie by Agnieszka Holland about pushbacks and the humanitarian crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border. Meanwhile, pushbacks at this border continue. The right to asylum, the principle of non-refoulement and the prohibition of collective expulsion are violated there every day and right now as we speak. Following the increased militarization of the border area in recent months, more violence is now seen to be used against both third-country nationals and people providing them with humanitarian assistance.”
Charlotte Slente, Secretary General DRC:
“This comprehensive evidence once again presents a disturbing picture of widespread and systematic pushbacks. I am deeply concerned about the human rights violations and suffering experienced by those seeking to cross Europe's borders to at least have their basic human rights to seek asylum.”
Ivana Stojanova, Lawyer, The Association for Legal Studies on Immigration (ASGI):
“Recent rulings of the Rome Tribunal in Italy highlighted the illegitimacy of informal readmission procedures. The positive outcomes in these cases highlight the importance of strategic litigation, as an important pathway to ensure that people have access to justice and to recall that states have the obligation to respect people’s rights.”
DRC and the PRAB partners call upon European governments to stop acting surprised every time they are presented with the facts on border violations and pushbacks - and that they instead take immediate action to uphold international human rights standards and ensure the protection and well-being of individuals at their borders.
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