Germany-Serbia: another charter flight to Serbia organised by FRONTEX

Press release

On Tuesday the 13th of March, for the second time since the beginning of 2012, a deportation flight has left Düsseldorf, Germany, in the direction of Belgrade, Serbia. These flights have been organised and financed by FRONTEX, the European agency in charge of managing the EU’s external borders.

Since 2006, FRONTEX has assisted Member States in organising joint flights to deport irregular migrants from the European territory. In 2010, FRONTEX organised no less than 39 collective deportation flights [1]

(often from several Member States at one time), compared to only ten in 2007 [2]. In 2011, FRONTEX coordinated seven flights from Germany, deporting people to Serbia or Kosovo.

The legality of these deportations is disputable according to European and international legislation. Article 19 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union states that "collective expulsions are prohibited". Member States often argue that joint returns do not amount to collective expulsions, but rather constitute the collective return of individuals whose situation has been assessed on a case by case basis. Recent examples of expulsions from the EU tend to show that the difference between collective expulsions and joint returns remains very thin and sometimes blurred. Besides, this article also specifies that no one can be removed, expelled or extradited to a State where she/he would be at serious risk of being subjected to torture, or inhumane or degrading treatment.

In Serbia, Migreurop collected the account of Ms F. K. who was deported on the last FRONTEX flight on February the 14th, 2012. She is 65 years old and had lived in Germany for the last 20 years, where she was treated for serious health problems, among others diabetes and partial paralysis. Due to her medical condition, the doctor refused to grant authorisation for her deportation during the first removal attempt from Germany. However, this did not stop the German authorities from deporting her a month and a half later on a collective FRONTEX flight to Serbia. She currently lives in a refugee camp, where she is not receiving any medical treatment or assistance appropriate to her illness – which indeed constitutes inhumane and degrading treatment. Thousands of people find themselves in comparable difficult situations every year, upon being returned from EU countries to Serbia. They often find themselves without appropriate housing and social or medical assistance.

Migreurop expresses its deep concern regarding forced removals to Serbia, which are carried out regardless of the migrants’ vulnerability and their exposure to discrimination in the country of return. Migreurop condemns the inhumane deportation policy of the EU and its Member States.

Press contact:

Migreurop: Ela Meh (Serbia): +381 64 35 95 839

Bureau de Migreurop (France): +33 1 53 27 87 81