Recent media reports and official statements about the newly established border monitoring mechanism raise serious concerns, especially over the body’s mandate, efficiency and independence, Amnesty International, Are You Syrious, the Centre for Peace Studies, the Danish Refugee Council, Human Rights Watch, the International Rescue Committee, Refugee Rights Europe and Save the Children said in a joint press release.
The Croatian government announced that the negotiations on the mechanism have concluded, but has not publicly disclosed further details about its structure or functioning, according to the press release.
The independent mechanism should monitor the treatment of illegal migrants by police officers, following several reports by NGOs of violations of migrants’ rights at the border, which the Croatian government denies. The establishment of the mechanism was earlier proposed by the European Commission.
“Any border monitoring mechanism should be independent in law and practice and have sufficient resources and a robust mandate to monitor border-related operations anywhere on the territory of a state,” the NGOs said.
The source of contention is the fact that according to the NGOs, the mechanism’s mandate would be limited to police stations near the border and border crossings, while most contentious actions of the Croatian authorities take place further away from them, the press release says.
The objection also referred to the involvement of other institutions and organisations.
“To ensure that the mechanism is credible and effective, it needs to involve independent institutions or organisations that have monitoring experience – such as civil society organisations, United Nations agencies, and national human rights institutions – that are not financially dependent on the government;” they said, adding that any mechanisms that do not meet such standards could undermine the European Commission’s efforts to end violence on the Union’s external borders.
“The Commission should actively review and assess the mechanism to ensure that Croatian authorities put in place a system that can credibly monitor compliance with EU law in border operations and should provide political and financial support only to a system that meets the above standards,” the NGOs said.
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