Fortressed Borders

Violence & Rightlessness at Europe's (External) Borders

Kilometers of barbed wire border fences and high-tech patrols by land, air and sea. Return agreements like the EU-Turkey Statement or the EU's cooperation agreement with Morocco. Unlawful und often brutal push-backs at the EU's external borders. Europe goes to great lengths to keep out people trying to flee war, persecution and extreme hardship. Spain's push-back practices have become a model for states wanting to barricade their borders. Since 2014, ECCHR has been working on legal interventions to challenge the EU's practice of push-backs and supporting affected people in taking legal action.

Croatia

Fortressed Borders

Croatia to answer to European Court of Human Rights

Push-backs

Croatia is obliged to account for its push-back practice to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) before the European Court of Human Rights. The court accepted the individual complaints brought by three Syrian refugees. The applicants were denied any individual assessment as they were summarily and collectively expelled in October 2018 at the border between Croatia and BiH.

Spain

Fortressed Borders

ND and NT v. Spain

Push-backs

ND and NT crossed the border fence structure in Melilla and entered Spain in August 2014. The Spanish Guardia Civil apprehended them, along with approximately 70 other individuals from sub-Saharan Africa who also had climbed the fences. They were immediately “pushed back” to Morocco – without access to any legal procedures or protection.

Spain

Fortressed Borders

Europe’s treacherous borders: Seeking justice for Ceuta victims

Push-backs

At least 15 dead and many more injured: this is the outcome of a Guardia Civil operation on 6 February 2014 on the beach of El Tarajal, located at the border between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. The deadly push-back has still not been investigated properly. ECCHR is working with survivors who are willing to give witness evidence.

Spain

Fortressed Borders

UN committee condemns Spain’s push-back policy

Push-backs

Spanish authorities apprehend and summarily deport unaccompanied minors to Morocco without a procedure to identify them and protect their rights. This policy was strongly condemned by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in February 2019 in a decision that clearly upholds the fundamental rights of unaccompanied minors at Europe's borders.

Macedonia

Fortressed Borders

From Idomeni to Strasbourg: Refugees demand their right to have rights at the ECtHR

Push-backs

With support from ECCHR, several refugees filed individual complaints against Macedonia in 2016. They assert that Macedonia’s practice of unlawful expulsions is violating the European Convention on Human Rights.

Italy

Fortressed Borders

Criminalizing sea rescue: ECCHR demands UN intervention

Rescue at sea

For years, Italy has intimidated, threatened and prosecuted sea rescues that provide vital humanitarian assistance to refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean. To counter this, ECCHR submitted a letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders regarding Sea-Watch 3 crew members, in particular Captain Carola Rackete.

Italy

Fortressed Borders

Sea rescuers under attack: Iuventa crew criminalized by Italian government

Rescue at sea

The NGO ship Iuventa (owned and operated by German organization Jugend Rettet) has been rescuing refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, off the Libyan coast, thereby providing crucial aid to those abandoned by state-administered sea rescue. In August 2017, Italian authorities seized the Iuventa, thereby preventing any further rescue missions.

Greece

Fortressed Borders

Greek hotspots: Complaint against European Asylum Support Office to the EU Ombudsperson

Hotspots

According to ECCHR’s analysis of a series of admissibility interviews conducted on the Greek Islands, EASO fails to respect core standards of fairness. The interviews do not permit a fair assessment of cases and do not give room for a thorough investigation of vulnerability.