06 November 2020
The latest newsletter from Inicijativa Dobrodošli!/Welcome! Initiative covers the European Commission's plans to visit Croatia in light of news of fundamental rights violations at the borders; pushbacks at the Greek borders; deaths at sea; and police violence in Trieste against anti-racist demonstrators countering a far-right protest.
Source: Inicijativa Dobrodošli!/Welcome! Initiative (link)
The principal adviser on Charter compliance of the European Ombudsman, Marta Hirsch-Ziembińska, stressed at a conference on the Migration and Asylum Pact this week that the European Ombudsman and national Ombudsman institutions must play a key role in establishing and implementing an independent monitoring mechanism, both at the screening stage and as regards respect for fundamental rights. The conference, organised by the Greens, was partly focused on Croatia and continuous testimonies and reports on violence and human rights violations at the Croatian borders, while Michael Shotter, Director for Migration, Protection and Visas within the European Commission's Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs, pointed out that the Commission plans to visit Croatia following the latest testimonies on the serious abuse of refugees and other migrants. He stressed the importance of the role of Ombudsman, specifically, the role of Ombudswoman of the Republic of Croatia. You can view the video of the online conference here.
At the same conference, Birte Schorpion of the Danish Refugee Council presented the findings of border monitoring by the Danish Refugee Council on pushbacks and human rights violations, focusing on serious human rights violations of refugees and other migrants registered over the past 16 days at the borders of Croatia with Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the testimonies of doctors who intervened after the pushbacks and confirmed the serious injuries. Out of 75 cases recorded in the period from 12 to 16 October, 52 people needed medical aid and four were visibly underage. Additionally, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has published its monthly reports on the violent and illegal pushbacks of refugees and other migrants from Croatian territory. Since December 2019, the DRC has recorded 14,090 pushbacks, and in recent months there has been a rise in the number of pushbacks accompanied by violence, torture, confiscation and destruction of personal belongings. Out of 1,659 documented pushbacks last month, 84% included the destruction of personal belongings, 72% degrading treatment and 60% physical violence. These alarming figures are just one more thing in a series of reasons demonstrating the importance and urgency of establishing an independent border control mechanism!
We have previously reported on the European Commission's public consultation on the integration and inclusion of migrants and people with a migrant background. The new Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion for 2021-2024 should be published in the last quarter of this year, and represents an important opportunity for the development of a coordinated integration policy, ensuring that all the people coming and staying in the EU have the opportunity to build a dignified life and actively participate in society. Ahead of the publication of the Action Plan, the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) prepared a policy document with recommendations you can read here.
Human rights violations continue on Greek borders. Der Spiegel announced last week that Frontex is involved in violating international law by participating in pushbacks from Greece conducted by the Greek Coast Guard at sea. Aegean Boat Report reported this morning that 36 people were illegally returned from Greek to Turkish waters on 28 October. Witness statements, photographs, videos and geolocations confirm that the people landed by boat on the Greek cape Kafireas in the Aegean Sea on 27 October. The Greek government is obviously determined to prevent anyone from reaching Greek soil, regardless of the consequences or potential damage it can inflict on innocent people fleeing war and persecution. The EU has so far failed to take measures to halt the Greek government's unlawful practices, even with all available evidence.
Unfortunately, more bad news from the sea this week. At least one hundred people are believed to have drowned off the coast of Senegal when a fishing boat with refugees and other migrants hoping to reach the Canary Islands sank after an explosion on board. A boat carrying refugees and other migrants travelling from France to Great Britain sank in the English Channel last week. Around fifteen people were hospitalised and four members of a Kurdish-Iranian family have died. Their 15-month-old boy remains missing. How many more people must lose their lives in pursuit of security before safe and legal routes are finally established?
And finally, some troubling news from Trieste. On Saturday 24 October, in the main station square, radical right-wing groups received approval from local authorities to protest refugees and welcome practices. The protests took place in the same square where activists and volunteers have been welcoming refugees and other migrants arriving wounded, beaten and exhausted from the Balkan route for months. This protest of extreme right-wing groups was a clear provocation, of which the police were aware. In response, anti-fascists and anti-racists staged a counter-protest in solidarity with migrants and those who help them. What no one expected was a violent response from police who protected radical right-wing protesters and beat up anti-fascists and anti-racists.
In solidarity with those who oppose racism around the world!
In solidarity with the wounded activists!
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