Images that bear witness to a violent reality. Migrants are victims of illegal refoulements, sometimes accompanied by violence, carried out by special police units, in particular at the borders of Greece and Croatia, affirms Wednesday, October 6 an investigation of several media, including the German magazine Spiegel.
Investigations carried out over eight months by journalists from seven countries and eight different media have concluded that “system” led by “special units” mostly concealing their identity by wearing uniforms without insignia and balaclavas covering the face, writes the Spiegel.
“They mostly operate in secret – and are paid for by European citizens”, explains the magazine in the survey put online Wednesday evening, the result of a collaboration with the German public television ARD, the French daily Release, Croatian and Serbian media, the Dutch investigative platform Ligthouse reports.
According to Spiegel, video recordings of eleven push-backs in Croatia show how men beat refugees before returning them to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Six Croatian officials confirmed to the German magazine, after examining the footage, that they were members of a special police unit. Internally, the pushback operation has been dubbed “Operation Corridor” by Croatian officials.
Based on other video analysis and testimonies, investigation claims that in the Aegean Sea, special units of the Greek Coast Guard are tasked with intercepting asylum seekers and releasing them into orange life rafts , partly bought with EU money.
Neither the Greek government, which has disputed previous accusations of refoulements, nor that of Croatia responded to journalists’ questions. “Far from being a culpable drift of a few agents, these pushbacks constitute an established strategy on the part of States whose police forces are financially supported by the EU”, writes Liberation.