Bosnia-&-Herzegovina : ill-treatments and hunger strike in Lukavica foreigners’ camp

Twenty people are currently detained in inhuman and degrading conditions in Lukavica foreigners’ camp, close to Sarajevo. Detainees include Albanians, Egyptians, Syrians, Palestinians, Algerians as well as one Kosovar and one Turk.

According to many sources, foreigners arrested in Bosnia and then held in detention centres are mostly released after a few days when the authorities are unable to send them back to their country of origin. However, people from Arab countries are detained longer : three to six months, if not more. The reason : they are accused of being linked with terrorist activities, even if there is no serious proof they are in their file. Some of them have lived in Bosnia-&-Herzegovina for many years ; others have been arrested at the border, and sent to Lukavica.

No information related to their detention and the according procedure has been provided to them. They are sometimes given documents from the court, but, as one of the detainees reported it to Migreurop : « to sign or not is the same, we don’t understand what’s written on it ». They were not given access to a judge nor were they provided any counselling assistance ; it’s difficult for them to access a doctor or a translator. Some did ask for asylum but it seems that their request has been ignored.

This partly accounts for eight detainees (four Palestinians, two Algerians and two Tunisians) being on hunger strike for now 28 days, since 28th December, 2010. Weak, some of them being sick, they have no contact with the outside world. This demonstration of despair has been preceded by two other hunger strikes in 2010. In both cases, promises by the centre’s authorities that detention conditions would improve were not kept. Detainees who witnessed to Migreurop of their situation are also complaining of being victims of violence (punching, kicking, and beating with truncheons). One of the prisoners reported he had been beaten by a policeman working in the centre, and had many ribs broken. Some are slapped for merely asking a question to a guard. Many foreigners, who were arrested at the Montenegro-Bosnia & Herzegovina border, told they had been ripped off and that policemen stole their mobile phones and money as well as personal belongings.
Inaugurated in 2008, Lukavica foreigners’ camp has been financed by the European Union and is a typical example of how the latter externalises its migration policy. The stability pact in south-eastern Europe, initiated in 1999, lays a large emphasis on border controls. Bosnia-&-Herzegovina, which citizens have recently been exempted from visa to enter the EU, is one of the subcontracting partners controlling the Union’s external borders and thereby serving the latter’s interests. No attention is however paid on how this strategy is implemented.

Like in Ukraine, like in Turkey, like in Libya, migrants and asylum seekers are the first victims of this give-and-take policy.

Migreurop is asking the Bosnian authorities, whose country is a signatory to the international Convention on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families, to stop the violation of the rights of Lukavica detainees as promptly as possible. The right to appeal against detention, to be provided assistance and to access a translator, to ask for asylum, and to the respect of one’s physical integrity are especially jeopardized.

Migreurop is, moreover, calling on European authorities to acknowledge their responsibility in their externalisation policy, and to ensure that the human rights principles the Union and its members States are committed to are respected in countries where migratory controls are outsourced. Migreurop recalls its opposition to the administrative detention of migrants and to the criminalization of immigration which both lead to the violation of fundamental rights [1].

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