In December 2015, in the middle of the so-called “refugee crisis“, the European Commission has proposed to set up a European Border and Coast Guard Authority (EBCGA) as one of the key measure “to protect Europe's external Borders“. The aim declared by the Commission was a better management of migration, and the need “to offer a high level of security within the Union, while safeguarding the free movement of persons therein“.
Asylum and integration policies
Representatives of civil associations from Croatia and Serbia, who gathered in Zagreb on Monday for a public debate on the occasion of World Refugee Day, said that political and legal circumstances in Europe were developing to the detriment of refugee human rights.
Croatian Foreigners Act is currently being amended. Centre for Peace Studies (CPS) made comments to the Draft Amendments to the Foreigners act (Draft Amendments). CPS main concerns focus around several legal institutes, the most relevant and alarming being the “criminalization of solidarity”.
The Croatian civil society group "Dobrodosli" (Welcome) has sent a letter to Pope Francis ahead of his meeting with Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic on Thursday, thanking the pontiff for making the public more sensitive to the suffering of people fleeing war and violence and asking him to encourage Croatian political leaders to treat refugees peacefully.
Centre for Peace Studies with the support of initiative Welcome! prepared a leaflet with answers to frequently asked questions at the refugee camp in Slavonski Brod for refugees that are situated there. In this leaflet refugees can find information about the opportunities, rights and restrictions of the asylum system in Croatia.
Initiative Welcome and Are You Syrious on Wednesday presented a report in which they conclude, based on observations and interviews, that Croatian authorities have been forcibly detaining refugees in closed-off sections of the refugee transit centre at Slavonski Brod, thus systematically violating their human rights, and called for immediately ensuring free movement for those people.
Despite the harsh weather, the initiative Welcome and ‘Are You Syrious?’ attracted some 500 people to the “Closing of Borders Kills” protest in St. Mark’s Square in Zagreb against the closing of the so-called Balkan Route, which has left more than 40,000 people trapped at the Greek border.
With regards to today’s meeting of the Chiefs of Police of Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia, who are in Zagreb discussing the humanitarian crisis, the Welcome! Initiative calls for these countries not to reach for measures of returning the refugees back to insecurity, by uplifting the internal border controls and playing ping- pong with human destinies. Countries whose representatives met today have the moral and political responsibility towards refugees knocking on our doors.
With regards to announcement by the Minister of Internal Affairs Vlaho Orepić, introducing a new regime of transporting refugees by rail directly from Macedonia to Austria, the Welcome! Initiative reminds of the necessity to introduce secure and protected air, land and sea corridors for refugees wishing to reach their desired destinations, in order to reduce the violations of their human rights, as well as number of deaths occurring daily within the EU borders.
During the conference held yesterday at the Human Rights House, the “Welcome” Initiative has warned of serious human rights violations and creation of legal insecurity, as a result of problematic practises of returning refugees from Slovenia to Croatia, and from Croatia to Serbia. They have also presented a report, created by the “Moving Europe” Activists, who were talking to individuals “stuck” in the border areas of Serbia and Croatia, in the vicinity of Adaševci and Šid, as well as those in Belgrade, from 11 to 25 January, which offers testimonies of police violence.