Swiss protesters urge end to deportations of asylum-seekers to Croatia

Demonstrators in Bern protest against the deportation of refugees to Croatia under the Dublin Agreement. Keystone

Several hundred people demonstrated on Saturday in Bern against the return of asylum-seekers to Croatia.

This content was published on February 4, 2023 minutes

Refugees are subjected to ill-treatment and violence in Croatia, according to speakers at the demonstration held in front of parliament buildings in the Swiss capital.

Human Rights Watch notes that despite credible reports  about illegal and violent pushbacks of migrants by Croatian police into Bosnia and Serbia, in breach of EU refugee and human rights law, Croatia faced no consequences from EU institutions.

Croatia’s president acknowledged in December 2018 on Swiss public broadcaster SRF that force is sometimes used, but later retracted her comments.

Migrants unsafe in Croatia

Switzerland should immediately stop sending people back to Croatia and to countries where the rights of asylum seekers are violated, the protesters demanded. The peaceful, authorised protest was organised by the Neuchâtel organisation “Droit de rester” and its partners. Many migrants took part, according to the Keystone-SDA news agency.

Under the Dublin Agreement, only one state is responsible for examining an asylum application if the applicant moves from one state to another. This state is usually the one through which the applicant entered the Schengen area.

The Dublin Agreement was signed by all EU countries and members of the European Free Trade Association, which includes Switzerland.

This can lead to Switzerland returning applicants to certain countries, such as Croatia, whose treatment of migrants is considered problematic by many rights groups.

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