Beyond Borderline: Refugee and Migrant Exclusion in Europe

Kilometers of barbed wire exclusion fences, thousands of high-tech patrols at sea, in the air and on land, push-back agreements with neighboring countries: the European Union goes to great lengths to exclude people fleeing from war, persecution and hardship in their home countries. To justify their actions leaders in Brussels and the EU member states claim the push-backs are politically necessary and permitted under law.

Deaths and injuries at the EU's external borders

Every other week another boat carrying migrants and refugees capsizes or sinks off the coast of Italy or Malta. Witnesses frequently report instances of abuse at the borders between Turkey and Greece. There is a steady climb in the number of people who lose their lives while trying to cross the Moroccan-Spanish border. All of these events serve as evidence of the terrible failure of the EU’s asylum and refugee policies.

Illegal and brutal push-backs at the EU borders

Illegal push-backs or forced returns at EU borders represent a flagrant violation of fundamental human rights and refugee laws. In the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the northern coast of Africa, refugees and migrants are repeatedly subjected to brutal violence from border guards. Anyone attempting to enter these Spanish cities – and thereby reach EU territory – is immediately deported to Morocco without any examination of their right to asylum.
This practice of unlawful and often brutal push-backs has now become a model for border protection along the EU’s outer limits as well as in neighboring and transit states. This was demonstrated for example by the expulsions from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to the border camp Idomeni in Greece.

ECCHR supports legal proceedings against push-backs

During the push-backs, injuries and even deaths are common. Stripped of their rights, it is almost impossible for victims to take any form of legal redress. Over the past year ECCHR has been examining the scope for legal intervention against the practice of push-backs in the EU and has been helping affected persons with individual legal proceedings.
Ceuta, 6 February 2014: 15 deaths, many injured in a fatal push-back
Idomeni, 14 March 2016: Expulsion of at least 1500 individuals from FYROM to Greece
Melilla, 13 August 2014: Refugees and migrants summarily and collectively expelled from Spanish territory


  • borders
  • Ceuta
  • ECtHR
  • EU
  • European Court of Human Rights
  • Melilla
  • Migration
  • Morocco
  • push-backs
  • Refugees
  • Spain