Friday

5th Mar 2021

EU demands answers on Croat border attacks against migrants

  • Injuries allegedly caused by Croat border police (Photo: Danish Refugee Council)

The European Commission is pressing the Croat government over allegations its police abused migrants along its borders.

A three-page letter from the European Commission sent late October to Croatia, and seen by this website, asks for details into the abuse.

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In it, EU commissioner Ylva Johansson demands Croatia's deputy prime minister Davor Bozinovic to disclose the number of allegations received and investigated by the Croat authorities over the past three months.

She also wants to know "how many of them have resulted in follow-up action" and to what extent the investigations are objective and impartial.

The Croatian government has in the past denied it all and claims the injuries are most likely due to fighting among the migrants themselves.

The denial comes despite complaints filed with Croatia's Public Attorney's Office by civil society groups like the Croatian Law Centre and Croatia's Ombudsman's Office.

The whole is part of a larger bid first announced over the summer to dispatch commission officials to Croatia to make sure the rights of migrants are being respected.

Johansson is hoping to send people sometime this month.

"My services will be in touch with you regarding the exact scope and objectives of this visit, which we would consider necessary to take place as soon as possible in November 2020," she writes.

The letter comes as the EU's administrative watchdog this week launched an inquiry against the European Commission over the issue.

Amnesty International, an NGO, had filed a complaint to the European Ombudsman. They said the commission had failed to address persistent allegations of serious human rights abuses by Croatian authorities.

A so-called "monitoring mechanism" was launched in 2018 in an effort to guarantee the respect of fundamental rights at the Croat borders.

Some €300,000 of EU funds were set aside for it. Amnesty says most of the funds went elsewhere as evidence of abuse against migrants continued to mount.

In her letter, Johansson describes such allegations and evidence as "very concerning."

She further requests Bozinovic to shore up the monitoring mechanism and support Croatia's ombudswoman to better reinforce rights and follow-up complaints.

She also asks him to explain why authorities are not properly registering the finger prints of migrants and asylum seekers into the EU's database, Eurodac.

Johansson says such registrations are required to make sure the rules underpinning the travel free Schengen zone are met.

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