Monday, December 21, 2020

Mapping the Illegal Pushback of Migrants

From 2017-2020 Europe forcibly expelled over 10,000 migrants without allowing individuals to exercise their rights to seek asylum or have their cases heard. This is just the number we know about and the true figure is likely to be substantially higher. 

Portuguese newspaper Expresso has released an interactive map which tells the stories of a large number of refugees who have been illegally expelled from Europe in contravention of the 1951 Refugee Status Convention. In order to halt immigration and deny the entry of migrants it appears that many European countries are either encouraging or turning a blind eye to the actions of border authorities and police in repatriating or expelling refugees without due process.

Returnees is a story map which highlights a number of known cases of pushback on Europe's borders just in 2020. ‘Pushback’ is a term which is used to describe the practice of stopping individuals from seeking protection by forcibly returning them to another country. Instead of examining and judging cases individually as required by European law many countries appear to be illegally pushing back migrants at their borders. Often using excessive violence.

As you progress through the Returnees story map you can read (in Portuguese) individual cases where migrants have been expelled from Europe, often violently by European police forces. For example in the summer 23 migrants from Pakistan were stopped in Italy and forcibly taken to Bosnia. The migrants complain that during this process they had their personal property stolen and were subject to violence. 

This is just one of 150 separate pushback incidents reported on the Returnees map. Nearly every one of these 150 incidents involve a large number of migrants. So the Returnees map plots over a thousand individuals who were denied the right to seek asylum in Europe during just the first nine months of 2020.

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