Excessive violence and sniffer dogs at the Bulgarian border to prevent the passage of migrants

Humiliation, violence and humiliation are practices against migrants seeking to reach a safe haven as they try to cross the border from Turkey to Bulgaria, a European Union member, at the hands of Bulgarian border guards, according to what Human Rights Watch documented in a report. new published today, Thursday.

Shocking new evidence emerged in a report published by Human Rights Watch today, Thursday, May 26, in which it dealt with the stories of various groups of migrants interviewed over a six-month period between November 2021 and last April.

Evidence gathered by the NGO all shows that the migrants were subjected to violence in various forms, before the border guards carried out operations to repel these persons and return them to the Turkish side without giving them the opportunity to applied for asylum. violates European and international laws.

Bulgaria is the poorest member of the European Union and has not accepted large numbers of migrants, as migrants often consider it a transit point. However, the state treated the issue of immigration as a “security issue”.

More >>> Bulgarian border guards return 80 “half-naked” migrants to Turkey.

sniffing dogs

Human Rights Watch said Bulgarian authorities “beat, stole and stripped” migrants’ property, as well as “using scissors dogs to attack Afghans and other asylum seekers and migrants, and then returning them to Turkey without any official interviews or asylum.” procedure ”.

The use of police dogs has become commonplace by border guards, according to immigrant testimonies. A young man who crossed the border last April, accompanied by 25 other people, recounted the violence they experienced at the border, saying: “Police shot a dog at a man who was in our group … even though he was begging in Bulgarian to stop the dog, we saw how the dog was biting and shaking his hands … Then the police were scaring the same person with the dog, as one of the officers claimed he would shoot the dog again. “

Recent guidance from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recommends training and keeping police dogs under control, especially when they are not tied up, because “dog bites can cause lifelong injuries”.

excessive violence

A 21-year-old Afghan man said he tried to cross into Bulgaria from Turkey with four other men. He and his group got lost after walking for a day and a night and finally made their way to the police station in a village. He said it was a police officer who immediately called for support. He said police, all dressed in dark blue uniforms, “beat him and his friends and stole money and bags”. Police then took them to the fence separating the Bulgarian-Turkish border and forced them to remove their clothes and shoes, and they continued to beat them. One eye. “During the beating, the police put him in a canal, breaking his wrists.”

The Turkish news agency Anadolu reported last month that Turkish authorities in the state of Karklareli had transferred four migrants (three Palestinians and a Moroccan) to hospital after being beaten at the Bulgarian border in the northwest.

Last April, a Turkish security source said about 84 irregular migrants returned “half-naked” to the Turkish border from Bulgaria, adding that they accused Bulgarian border guards of forcibly returning and stripping them.

It was a terrible moment. The women were shouting

Another witness said, “They were hitting us like football … They kicked me in every part of my body, and I was only able to defend my head.” Bulgarian police also treated women “violently” and men controlled women, ignoring women’s demands not to touch their bodies.

Mohajernews spoke with a Cameroonian immigrant who said he tried to cross the Bulgarian border last month with three Algerian men, two Algerian women and a woman from Haiti, but border guards arrested them in the border village of Golyam Dervent and attacked the women. . The police completely stripped the women, one by one, the border guards attacked them in front of our eyes. so we could not see well, but we heard screams and groans. “

Cameroonian Narcissus

The young Cameroonian Narcisse continued: “It was a horrible moment. The women were shouting and nothing could be done. The man was pointing the gun at us. I did not expect to experience this in the heart of Europe.”

Narcisse later said that Bulgarian police forcibly returned them to Turkey, “I have to leave Turkey. I do not feel safe here.”

Demands a cessation of violence

Michelle Randhawa, refugee and migrant rights officer at Human Rights Watch, calls on the European Union to ensure that “Bulgaria immediately stops illegal and inhumane returns to its borders and allows asylum seekers access to a procedure. the right to asylum “.

At the end of 2021, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee reported that there were 2,513 returns to Bulgaria’s borders, including about 44,000 people.

The human rights organization calls for “holding accountable officials who mistreat migrants, ensuring fair treatment and ensuring access to asylum procedures for all those who seek it.” European institutions also call for immediate action to “establish an independent border monitoring mechanism to monitor and report on human rights violations on the Bulgarian-Turkish border. Frontex must investigate internally all allegations of failure to prevent illegal returns of migrants and ensure greater transparency about All internal investigations and findings.

Randhawa denounced the authorities’ hypocrisy in dealing with migrants, saying: “While Bulgarian officials welcome Ukrainian refugees by spreading information about temporary protection and living in Bulgaria, they are abusing and brutalizing Afghans and other asylum seekers at the border (…). “Bulgarians should offer the same understanding and dignified treatment to all asylum seekers as they do to Ukrainians.”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called for an investigation into the deaths of Iraqis on the Bulgarian-Turkish border in 2015. In February 2022, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, noted a “disturbing pattern of threats, intimidation, violence and humiliation of persons deported to the central and southeastern borders of the European Union.

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