Since the beginning of 2022, there have been 10 Deaths along the Bulgarian-Turkish Border
Since the beginning of 2022, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) has received two reports of violence against migrants. The checks on them have been completed and it has been established that there is no evidence of physical violence. At the same time, for the same period, there is information about ten deaths of refugees found while patrolling the border area. The Ministry of the Interior believes that the reason for the data on violence by Bulgarian police officers is that the traffickers instructed the refugees to say that they were beaten.
This is understood from the answer of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) to "Dnevnik" to questions related to the data of non-governmental organizations from Bulgaria, but also international observers, according to which the Bulgarian police force repels refugees trying to enter the country.
A report with similar conclusions was presented at the end of May by "Human Rights Watch", which mentions that in 2021, over 44,000 people were turned away in Bulgaria, and in 2020 - over 15,000 people. According to the organization, there are reports that Bulgarian police beat, rob, strip and use police dogs to attack Afghans and other asylum seekers, then push them back to Turkey without a formal interview or asylum procedure.
“Bulgaria does not tolerate cases of abuse and violence against persons crossing the border illegally. Every signal containing sufficient information is checked”, the ministry replied.
"In the presence of data regarding employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the data is provided to the Internal Security Directorate. If there is sufficient data to initiate pre-trial proceedings in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code, the information is sent to the attention of the competent prosecutor's office," wrote the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
It is understood from the answer that “the probable causes of death in the winter months are hypothermia, and in the summer months - dehydration.”
"It should be noted that those offering assistance in illegal border crossings 'train' illegal migrants in advance to claim that they have been subjected to 'ill-treatment, humiliation, torture, violence, robbery and extortion' in order to compromise the reception system in Bulgaria and supporting their aspiration to continue their journey to their desired destination in a Western European country", is the explanation of the Ministry of the Interior.
The responses to the deaths were that the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code were being followed. The pre-trial proceedings are investigated by investigating police officers at the Regional Offices of the Ministry of Internal Affairs under the supervision of the relevant prosecutor's office, the ministry replied without specifying how many of these pre-trial proceedings there are and what their outcome is. "Dnevnik" sent questions to the prosecutor's office on the subject.
The Ministry of the Interior specifies that, in view of Bulgaria's commitment to a number of international standards and the country's membership in the European Union, "the employees of the Ministry of the Interior and the Main Directorate of the Border Police strictly comply with both European and national legislation regarding the control of state borders, the observance of human rights, the access to the territory of persons who have sought protection and the principle of ‘non-refoulement’, regulated in Article 33, Paragraph 1 of the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees of the United Nations of 1951."
All employees involved in border surveillance are given an initial briefing), which includes:
- presentation of the situational picture along the border;
- familiarization with the basic provisions of the Manual on Basic Human Rights developed by the European Border and Coast Guard Service (FRONTEX) for the training of border police officers;
- rules on the procedure for requesting protection from police officers; actions in detaining foreigners at the state border.
The Ministry of the Interior claims that during the daily briefings, special attention is paid to strict compliance with the legislation in the field of border control and protection of basic human rights, including the order and rules for the use of weapons, aids and physical force.
"An employee with a higher rank supervises his colleagues whether the measures from the instructions are observed. When performing official duties, the actions of the employees are in accordance with the principle of non-repulsion (push-backs), which prohibits organized, illegal, violent return to neighboring territory , police arbitrariness and others listed in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees, the Schengen Borders Code and other acts of the secondary legislation of the European Union," wrote in the answers of the interior department.
The Ministry of the Interior specifies that it cooperates actively with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) and fulfills the clauses of the signed tripartite Memorandum of Cooperation.
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