25,000 violent pushbacks at EU borders documented in the ‘Black Book’
The Left in the European Parliament today launches the second edition of the “Black Book of Pushbacks”: over 3,000 pages mapping the systematic violence unfolding at Europe’s borders. The four volumes of the Black Book are a collection of more than one thousand testimonies of people on the move compiled by independent experts from the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN). It documents how almost 25,000 thousand people were beaten, kicked, humiliated and arbitrarily detained before being illegally pushed back, both at the EU’s external borders and from deep within the territory of its member states.
- 1,635 testimonies impacting 24,990 persons
- 4 volumes, consisting of more than 3,000 pages
- 15 countries covered: Austria, Italy, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Albania
The Black Book will be launched today at 10.30. You can attend the press conference for the launch and ask questions in Brussels – European Parliament, Room: SPAAK 0A50 or online- https://ep.interactio.eu/66e2-hy1p-1w4u
The sheer amount of horrors documented in these volumes leave no doubt regarding the systematic nature of pushback at Europe’s borders. These are not sporadic incidents caused by a “few bad apples”: this is a “rotten orchard” where violence, torture and humiliation are not only growing exponentially but also being normalised. While the Commission seeks an agreement on the Migration and Asylum Pact at all costs, including turning a blind eye to rights violations, it is failing in its duty as guardian of the treaties. The mounting evidence clearly shows that the legal case for an infringement action to be taken by the Commission is there.
Pushbacks are illegal under international law, but member state authorities have long ignored such breaches of human rights which are contrary to the EU’s international obligations. The Black Book contains only the testimonies recorded by BVMN, the real number of people being pushed back and experiencing violence at the borders is likely much higher.
Cornelia Ernst, Left MEP (Die Linke, Germany) commented on the study:
“The new edition of the Black Book clearly shows the violence still experienced every day by women, men, children on the move at the EU’s external and internal borders. The EU Commission is still inactive, not starting infringement procedures against Member States who are pushing people back and denying them the right to asylum. Frontex is still operating in Greece, although its complicity in human rights violations there is no secret. We see that the right to asylum is seriously under attack: the EU is funding more and more border forces perpetrating violence and Member States like Poland, Lithuania and Latvia are adopting laws aiming at legalising push-backs, legislation that violates the EU and international law. This new edition aims at holding the EU and governments accountable for the tortures, the inhumane and degrading treatment and the violations of the right to life that people seeking safety in Europe face every day. As Members of the European Parliament we have to thank the activists and NGOs that have been documenting border violence, gathering testimonies and locations at the high risk of being criminalised by European governments, without whom this book would not exist. Many of them have been suffering attacks for speaking out against the violence and push-backs carried out by law enforcement authorities, and we would like to express our strong support to them.”
Hope Barker, co-author Black Book of Pushbacks, senior policy analyst for the Border Violence Monitoring Network, said:
“In 2020 we published the first Black Book, with over 900 testimonies, and called for an end to the culture of impunity that surrounds human rights violations in Europe. Two years later and illegal pushbacks continue unabated in spite of an increased evidence base, videos of perpetrators committing these crimes, and hundreds more testimonies. In this new expanded and updated edition of the Black Book we publish over 1,600 testimonies – and this is just the tip of the iceberg, there are hundreds of thousands of stories that we have not heard. We at BVMN again call for an end to this practice, for perpetrators to be held accountable, and for the human rights of all individuals to be respected.”
Milena Zajovič, co-author Black Book of Pushbacks, head of advocacy for Border Violence Monitoring Network, added:
“Human rights defenders, journalists and others working on documenting pushbacks have been increasingly targeted by the governments of Greece, Croatia, Hungary and Italy – precisely the countries topping our list of perpetrators, with most violence reports coming from their borders. Out of 14 organisations in our Network, at least eight have faced severe forms of abuse – from SLAPP suits, smear campaigns, surveillance, intimidation and even targeting their family members, to procedural obstacles forced upon them in order to hinder their work. This year, one of our member NGOs had to dissolve following pressures against their work in Turkey and Greece, and some of our staff members, including the editor of this book, had to leave their countries of residence to avoid further abuse. Precisely these attempts to silence us are fueling our motivation to speak louder, and this is why we’re proud to present the new, expanded edition of the Black Book in the European Parliament – an institution that has the power to push for real change.”
You can read the Black Book in full here.
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