• asylum,
  • Migration,
  • push-backs,
  • refoulement

Brutal accounts of violent push-backs documented in newly-released ‘Black Book’ 

Detailed testimonies renew calls for end to impunity for EU border violence

A 1500-page ‘Black Book’ (volume 1 and volume 2) that documents the horrific violence suffered by over 12,000 people at the hands of authorities on the EU’s external borders has been released today – International Migrants Day – by The Left in the European Parliament.

Compiled by Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) and printed over two volumes, the ‘Black Book of Pushbacks’ is a collection of hundreds of testimonies of migrants and asylum seekers who have experienced human rights violations at external borders.

The ‘Black Book’ includes:

– 892 group testimonies detailing the experiences of 12,654 people;

– the violence many endured in Italy, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary along the so-called ‘Balkan route’, including maps, data, photos and other key information;

– the types of suffering and violence perpetrated by border agents, member state police forces, soldiers – even guard dogs;

  many of the incidents documented could be clearly described as sadistic, merciless, humiliating and degrading.

By bringing to light the suffering, Left MEPs & BVMN want EU institutions and member state governments to be held accountable for the inhumane and degrading treatment of the people. 

As part of the launch, Left MEPs Malin Björk & Miguel Urbán will be symbolically presenting the ‘Black Book’ to EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson in Brussels at around 15h00 today.

Push-backs are illegal under international law, but member state authorities have long ignored such breaches of human rights which are contrary to the EU’s founding principles and international obligations. 

In addition, this ‘Black Book’ only includes incidents that have been directly recorded by BVMN; the real number of victims is likely to be much higher.

Speaking on the launch of the ‘Black Book’, German MEP Cornelia Ernst (Die Linke) says: 

“During my time at the European Parliament, I have visited many places inside and outside the EU borders: Lampedusa, Lesvos, Edirne, Bihać, Preševo. Wherever we went, we found children, women and men who had been suffering.” 

“In recent years, however, the situation has become even worse. We have been so shocked by endless accounts of merciless, sadistic and degrading violence that are reminiscent of brutal dictatorships.” 

“This ‘Black Book’ sheds some much-needed light on this dark chapter of the EU. Our hope is that it will contribute to bringing an end to the crimes, and to hold accountable the governments that are responsible,” she concluded. 

Hope Barker, spokesperson for BVMN, added:

“This book brings together four years of work by BVMN, collecting nearly 900 testimonies of violent push-backs at European borders.” 

“Although these accusations are met with denial from the perpetrating countries, what we provide within these pages is an analysis of patterns and photo evidence that reveal an ongoing systematic practice. And these are just the stories that the Network has managed to record, the reality is much wider and more far-reaching.” 

“We call for an end to impunity, and a renewed commitment to accountability, both of which will work towards the end of such brutal human rights violations,” she said. 

You can read the Black Book in full with Volume I here, and Volume II here

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