Thousands of migrants were beaten, humiliated and arbitrarily detained at the EU’s external borders before being illegally pushed back, a new report by a group of human rights organizations has revealed.
The Border Violence Monitoring Network has documented hundreds of cases, in which European border guards used "gruesome tactics" to push back refugees, including women and children.
These tactics included “extreme and prolonged beatings, the shaving of heads, forced undressing, sexual assaults, dog attacks, nonconsensual medical treatments, and attacks with Electric Discharge Weapons,” according to the report.
The “Black Book of Pushbacks 2022” report included testimonies of more than 700 migrants, who faced degrading treatment, abuse, or torture while trying to cross the European Union’s external borders in the last two years.
The collection of testimonies sheds light on the human rights violations faced by more than 16,000 people at the EU’s external borders, and within the territory of member states, according to the report.
Greece was heavily criticized in the report for the illegal and systematic practice of pushbacks, while the Greek judiciary was accused of providing a shield for the government’s actions.
“In Greece, an official policy of pushbacks seems to have contaminated the judiciary,” human rights experts said in their report.
“Legal aid organisations supporting victims of pushbacks to litigate in domestic courts had their cases closed by public prosecutors who invoked a lack of evidence, whilst simultaneously refusing to interview witnesses or rejecting evidence.”
The 3,173-page report of The Border Violence Monitoring Network also criticized EU member states Poland, Lithuania and Latvia for adopting laws aiming at legalizing pushbacks, and stressed that these are in violation of EU and international law.
“We have seen the silence of the EU Commission despite our constant call on them to act against these laws,” the report stated.
Human rights experts said they will continue with their work, documenting human rights violations at the EU’s external borders, in order to force governments to end these illegal practices and bring those responsible to justice.
“Impunity must end, perpetrators must be held accountable, and Europe must find a way to express solidarity with all people on-the-move, regardless of their nationality,” they said.