Keywords: European Court of Human Rights; pushbacks; Balkan route; prohibition of collective expulsions; burden of proof; own culpable conduct
On 18 November 2021, the ECtHR delivered its judgment in the case M.H. and Others v. Croatia, addressing violations committed by a State against migrants within the ‘Balkan route’. This article focuses on the Court’s reasoning concerning the prohibition of collective expulsion of aliens under Article 4, Protocol 4 ECHR and highlights both merits and setbacks of the judgment. On the one hand, the Court’s definition of the burden and standard of proof in cases of unofficial summary expulsions sets a positive precedent for national and international case-law dealing with asymmetrical evidence availability in migration contexts. On the other hand, the adoption of an expansive interpretation of the controversial exception concerning the applicants’ ‘own culpable conduct’ by the Court risks legitimizing an arbitrary distinction between regular and irregular migrants in the protection against collective expulsions.