Deaths at the borders database: evidence of deceased migrants’ bodies found along the southern external borders of the European Union
Irregular migrants and asylum seekers have died and continue to die attempting to cross the external borders of the EU without authorisation, seeking to enter the territories of its Member States. Yet, remarkably little is known about these ‘border deaths’. In 2015,
the Human Costs of Border Control project published the Deaths at the Borders Database for the Southern EU, an open-source ‘evidence base’ of individualised information about people who have died border deaths between 1990 and 2013, sourced from the death management systems of Spain, Gibraltar, Italy, Malta and Greece. It is the first database on border deaths in the EU to be based on official sources as opposed to the news Media. The project involved searching 563 state-run death registry archives and deductively selecting the death certificates of persons who died border deaths. This paper describes, in detail, the making of the Deaths at the Borders Database: from the systematic, multisited, quantitative data collection and qualitative case studies, to the construction and final results of the Database itself.