HRW Claims Bulgaria Mistreating Syrian Refugees at Border with Turkey
Bulgarian border police have forced Syrian asylum seekers back to Turkey and has beaten some of them over the past month, a new report released by Human Rights Watch claims.
According to the report, which Human Rights Watch said was based on accounts by victims, the organization has “documented three separate incidents of summary returns from Bulgaria to Turkey involving at least 43 people, all Syrians.”
The nongovernmental human rights organization said in a news release that those incidents were consistent with the pushbacks to Turkey and abuse of asylum seekers and migrants by Bulgarian authorities that the organization had documented in a April 2014 report.
"Beating people who may be seeking asylum and then forcing them back across the border is plain wrong, and illegal,” commented Lydia Gall, Balkans and Eastern Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch.“The EU should press Sofia to keep its borders open to Syrians and other asylum seekers and to put an end to these abusive practices.”
The Bulgarian government has denied the documented reports of pushbacks and other abuses, Human Rights Watch said.
In April the European Commission wrote to Bulgaria about allegations that it broke EU rules by summarily returning Syrians to Turkey. Bulgaria has denied any wrongdoing.
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