Migrants are increasingly likely to encounter violence at the European Union's peripheries, according to the Border Violence Monitoring Network.
In the second edition of the group's Black Book of Pushbacks released this week, the organization, which describes itself as an independent network of non-government organizations mainly based in the Balkan regions and Greece, said migrants have reported beatings, dog attacks, head shavings, forced undressing, and sexual assaults when trying to cross the border.
The Border Violence Monitoring Network added that thousands of migrants had also reported "illegal expulsions", or so-called pushbacks, from nations on the edges of the bloc.
The 3,173-page report was based on interviews with 733 people but contains anecdotes related to 16,000 migrants.
The group said many migrants' attempts to claim asylum in the EU were laughed off by the border guards and police officers who intercepted them. Only around 6 percent of those interviewed said they had not witnessed "excessive force". International law calls for anyone fleeing war or persecution to be allowed to claim asylum in the first safe country they reach.
Hope Barker, co-editor of the report, said the document took four and a half years to complete. She told The Guardian newspaper violence seemed to escalate during that time.
"In the beginning, it seems very sporadic, a few incidents," she said. "It became an overall, systematized approach that spread deep into the mainland."
She added that activists trying to help people enter the EU are frequently subjected to "smear campaigns" in the media, and must endure "increased police repression".
The European television news network Euronews noted that stories about beatings and pushbacks relate to alleged incidents in EU member nations including Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Spain, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania and Slovenia. Additionally, the Western Balkan nations of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia were associated with incidents, along with Belarus and Turkey.
"In 2020, we published the first Black Book, with over 900 testimonies, and called for an end to the culture of impunity that surrounds human rights violations in Europe," Euronews quoted Barker as saying. "Two years later and illegal pushbacks continue unabated in spite of an increased evidence base, videos of perpetrators committing these crimes, and hundreds more testimonies."
Barker said Border Violence Monitoring Network wants an end to the violence and pushbacks, and for "perpetrators to be held accountable".
The BBC said the EU's external border agency, Frontex, reported almost 200,000 "irregular arrivals "into the EU during 2021 and 281,000 in the first 10 months of 2022.
The EU has been trying to balance a humanitarian urge to care for people in difficulty with the desire of some member nations to secure their borders and is currently working on new legislation pertaining to its borders.