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The London summit this week could kick-start the revival of the stalled reform process in the region – but won’t if human rights and the rule of law stay off the agenda

  Western Balkan and European Union leaders meet in London this week for a summit that could be a chance to revive stalled reforms and focus attention on critical issues. Unfortunately, there is every chance it will turn out to be full of hot…
Migrants are seen in front of a dorm destroyed during Bosnian 1992-1995 war, in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina May 11, 2018.
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Hungary’s governing party is cranking up the heat on nongovernmental organizations.  With its tight grip on parliament, and having undermined the courts and the media, the Fidesz government doesn’t like being held to account by pesky independent…
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks during his state-of-the-nation address in Budapest, Hungary, February 10, 2017.
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Asylum Seekers Denied Access to Protection; Subject to Violence

(Budapest) – Croatian police are forcing asylum seekers back to Serbia from inside Croatia, in some cases using violence, without giving them an opportunity to lodge claims for protection, Human Rights Watch said today. Human…
Migrants wait in line to receive free food during a snowfall outside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia January 9, 2017.
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Serbia, Hungary Leave People Without Adequate Shelter as Winter Hits Hard

While many in Serbia prepare for Orthodox Christmas, others in the country and neighboring Hungary are bedding down in freezing cold weather hoping to survive. Temperatures in Hungary and Serbia have dropped to minus 20 degrees centigrade at night.…
Asylum seekers and migrants living in appalling conditions in abandoned warehouses behind Belgrade train station, Serbia. November 22, 2016.
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Ensure Asylum Access; Investigate Cruel, Violent Pushbacks

(Budapest) – Migrants at Hungary’s border are being summarily forced back to Serbia, in some cases with cruel and violent treatment, without consideration of their claims for protection, Human Rights Watch said today. New…
Asylum seekers in Roszke waiting for days and weeks to be admitted to the transit zone, Hungary, March 31, 2016.
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Halt Summary Returns, Beatings, Robbery of Asylum Seekers

(Budapest) – Bulgarian law enforcement officials summarily return asylum seekers and migrants to Turkey, often after stealing their belongings and subjecting them to violence. In research in six countries between October and…
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(November 17, 2015) More than 800,000 asylum seekers and migrants have arrived in Europe by sea in 2015, with most traveling onward to northern and western EU countries. According to UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, 84 percent were from Syria,…
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Stranded in Misery by Delay, Lack of Coordination, Indifference

(Budapest) –The European Union and Western Balkans countries meeting on October 25, 2015, should focus on alleviating the suffering of migrants and asylum seekers stranded at various European borders, Human Rights Watch said today. Cascading border…
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Amid an influx of Iraqis and Syrians into Europe, the West is neglecting another group of refugees also in desperate need of help.

TOVARNIK, Croatia — Rajab Ali, a 16-year-old Hazara boy from Afghanistan’s Bamyan province, was silently weeping when we found him standing at the last remaining opening in the 12-foot-high razor-wire border fence Hungary has constructed on its…
Afghan Refugees
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Lack of Consensus on Mandatory Relocation; Shift Focus to Countries Outside EU

(Brussels) – The response to the refugee crisis agreed by the European Union interior ministers on September 14, 2015, is largely focused on shifting responsibility to countries outside the EU, Human Rights Watch said today. …
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The Hungarian government’s problematic approach to asylum seekers and migrants has hit a new low. The changes to the Hungarian asylum law as of August 1, among other things, mean that asylum claims from anyone entering via a country on a safe “third”…
hungary migrants
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Meeting in Washington with Prime Minister

(Washington, DC) – US Vice President Joe Biden should urge Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucić to take concrete steps to advance human rights protection, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to Biden released today. Biden and Vucić will meet this week…
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Vice President Joe Biden                              The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC 20500             RE: Human Rights Situation in Serbia  Dear Vice President Biden…
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Beaten, Extorted, Shoved Back Across the Border

(New York) – Asylum seekers and migrants in Serbia experience harassment and abuse at the hands of Serbian police, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch interviewed migrants and asylum seekers who described violent assaults, threats…
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EU Should Press Sofia to Investigate, Provide Protection

(Brussels) – Bulgarian border police have in the past month forced Syrian asylum seekers back to Turkey and beaten some of them, Human Rights Watch said today based on accounts by victims.   Human Rights Watch documented three separate incidents of…
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Calls for Europe to Help Fund Mare Nostrum Have Been Largely Ignored

The Italian Navy’s twitter feed contained joyous news last week: a pregnant mother among the 90 people rescued from the sea by a Navy frigate had given birth on board to a little girl, Yambambi. Over that weekend more than 1,600 people were rescued. While…
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By Alice Farmer and Lilana Keith

When Human Rights Watch first saw Yemi, the 17-year-old boy was huddled on a concrete bench in the corner of a windowless, graffitied holding cell run by the French border police. Clad in a stiff new leather jacket but otherwise without clothing warm…