Bulgarian police ‘abuse asylum-seekers, migrants, force them back to Turkey’ – HRW

Bulgarian law enforcement officials summarily return asylum seekers and migrants to Turkey, often after stealing their belongings and subjecting them to violence, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on January 20 2016, after reporting similar allegations in April and September 2015.

In research in six countries between October and December 2015, Human Rights Watch interviewed 45 asylum seekers and migrants from Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq who described 59 incidents of summary returns from Bulgaria to Turkey between March and November. Twenty-six people said they had been beaten by police or bitten by police dogs. All but one said they were stripped of their possessions, in some cases at gunpoint by people they described as Bulgarian law enforcement officials, then pushed back across the border to Turkey.

The HRW allegations on January 20 coincided with a report that from September to the present, Bulgaria had provided 250 000 euro in aid for refugees through various EU measures against the migration crisis This was indicated by European Commission records of contributions by member states to the EU’s two trust funds for Syria and Africa as well as humanitarian aid for UN agencies.

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