Kilometers of barbed wire exclusion fences, thousands of high-tech patrols at sea, in the air and on land, pushback 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 pushbacks are politically necessary and permitted under law.
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 pushbacks 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.
Since 2014, ECCHR has been examining the scope for legal intervention against the practice of pushbacks in the EU and has been helping affected persons with individual legal proceedings.
Germany and Greece concluded the so-called Seehofer Deal in 2018. The administrative agreement named after German Minister of Interior Horst Seehofer says: migrants and refugees who have already applied for asylum in Greece and arrive to Germany via Austria should be refused entry and returned to Greece within 48 hours. This is what happened to Syrian asylum seeker HT.