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Migrants: Amnesty, EU complicit in violence in the Balkans

Chain pushbacks also from Italy and Slovenia, NGO said

13 March, 20:47

(ANSA) - BELGRADE, MARCH 13 - In a new report released today, Amnesty International (AI) has accused the EU governments of being complicit in "the systematic, unlawful and frequently violent pushbacks and collective expulsions of thousands of asylum seekers to squalid and unsafe refugee camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina," the Ngo said in a statement.

Amnesty has presented its accusations in "Pushed to the edge: Violence and abuse against refugees and migrants along Balkan Route". The document includes of testimonies of violence committed against migrants and refugees trying to enter Croatia from Bosnia. Moreover, Amnesty said, migrants and refugees "caught in Italy and Slovenia are often subject to chain pushbacks, summarily handed over to Croatian police and forcibly expelled back to camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina without having their asylum claims considered." "Nearly all" migrants and refugees "in the camps in Bihac and Velika Kladusa", in Bosnia and Herzegovina, "had been pushed back into Bosnia and Herzegovina from Croatia or Slovenia and nearly one third of those interviewed had experienced violence at the hands of the Croatian police", Amnesty said in a statement.

Amnesty added that "European governments are not just turning a blind eye to vicious assaults by the Croatian police, but also funding their activities", and they are as well "prioritizing border control over compliance with international law." "To understand where European government's priorities lie, one only needs to follow the money" as their "financial contribution towards humanitarian assistance is dwarfed by the funds they provide for border security which includes equipping Croatian border police and even paying their salaries," said Massimo Moratti, Director of Research for Amnesty International's Europe Office, quoted in the Amnesty statement.

"Meanwhile people fleeing war and persecution are beaten and robbed by the Croatian police and forcibly pushed back to legal limbo, left at the mercy of a failing asylum system in Bosnia and Herzegovina," Moratti added.

More than 5,000 migrants and refugees are currently stranded in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in appalling conditions, while waiting to irregularly cross into Croatia and to travel further north. (ANSA). 

Migrants: Amnesty, Croatia rejects allegations of violence

(ANSA) - ZAGREB, MARCH 13 - Croatia rejected the accusations made by Amnesty International (AI) today. According to AI, the Croatian police systematically and illegally repatriate migrants, using all methods, including violence, against them and refugees on the border with Bosnia. Through an open letter addressed to Massimo Moratti, responsible for research in the European office of the AI, the Croatian Interior minister, Davor Bozinovic, said that the Croatian police ''effectively monitor and protect our borders, in full compliance with laws national and international rules''. Bozinovic said that violence and abuse are not tolerated nor encouraged and that all complaints about any police's unlawful behavior are always verified. So far, these controls have not shown abuse or violence by Croatian agents. In recent times, complaints about abuse and violence have been made by other international organizations. Very often, said Bozinovic, ''migrants make false allegations against Croatian policemen, hoping that this can somehow help them to enter Croatia''. In its report, Amnesty International referred to 94 migrants' claims collected in the camps in the Bihac area of Bosnia, not far from the border with Croatia. Instead, the Croatian ministry underlined that this organization offered no information to identify these people or verify their claims. ''We are convinced - said Minister Bozinovic - that most of the migrants interviewed are people who have never entered Croatia, but to whom prevention measures have been applied at the state border, in line with the Schengen rules''. (ANSA). 


Migrants: Amnesty, frequent abuse cases in Croatia
Clear rules. Collective expulsion, torture are prohibited

(ANSA) - BELGRADE, MARCH 13 - ''The Amnesty International report covers a period between June and December 2018 and abuse cases were constantly reported. It is up to the Croatian authorities to put together an effective system to guarantee asylum and avoid abuse''. That is what Massimo Moratti, director for research at Amnesty International's European office, told ANSA, replying to the statements released by the Croatian Interior Minister, Davor Bozinovic, who rejected the allegations contained in a report issued today by Amnesty International on alleged illegal behavior of the Croatian police against migrants and refugees. ''The rules are clear - continues Moratti - the Schengen Borders Code cannot be used as a pretext to derogate from the rules on human rights. The same legislation - Moratti added - clearly decree that collective expulsion cannot occur and torture and ill-treatment are absolutely prohibited''. (ANSA).


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