Balkan Region – Report November 2019

The Border Violence Monitoring Network just published it’s November report, covering pushbacks and police violence from Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and Greece. This report covers several different trends, analysing the illegal and life threatening police practices which govern the external border of the European Union. In focus was the near fatal use of firearms by Croatian authorities, supported by the recent publication of BVMN’s wider statistics on the exercise of guns during collective expulsion. 

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Press Release: Croatian Police Shoot Person in Transit

On Saturday 16th November 2019, a group of people-in-transit were fired upon by Croatian police with live rounds. The shooting occurred on​ Tuhobić mountain, Gorski Kotar (​HR), an area close to the Slovenian border. One man was shot in the stomach and chest area and remains in a critical condition in a hospital in Rijeka (​HR). The Croatian Ministry of Interior have stated this potentially fatal shooting to be an accidental outcome of regular border protection work. However, The Border Violence Monitoring Network are sharing their dataset of firearms incidents, proving the regular and systematic use of guns by the Croatian police during pushback operations. The statistics, drawn from the ​common database​, show:

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Balkan Region – Report October 2019

The Border Violence Monitoring Network just published it’s October report, covering pushbacks and police violence from Croatia (and Slovenia), into Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia. Highlighted by the trend analysis of this report, pushbacks by Croatian authorities in particular included the use of stripping, fires, water immersion, theft and beatings. The tactics, shared by multiple respondents and quoting direct statements from the police, show an armoury of formal and informal weaponry which also include: tasers, pepper spray and gatekeeping of asylum. Each facet of these pushbacks shows a clear intentionality: to compound further the experience of people subject to illegal collective expulsions.

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600th Pushback Report made by the Border Violence Monitoring Network


Its 5th January 2017, at around midnight. A group of 39 people have entered into Hungary from Serbia through the infamous border fence. They walk through the snow. It’s dark. It doesn’t take long for the Hungarian police to arrive, surrounding them in four patrol cars. The officers move fast; setting dogs on the transit group, then destroying their mobile phones, and following this up with a brutal beating with batons. One man cries out in fear as an officer raises a gun and holds it to the man’s head. Another cannot cry out. He is lying on the floor with the cold boot of an officer rammed against his throat, as other policemen kick at his body. The police strip the people of their clothing, some down to their underwear. The next morning they are driven to the border fence and pushed back into Serbia.


On 1st October 2019, in the early evening the sun is setting as five people in transit walk through a southern area of Slovenia. It’s not long before they hear gunshots and shouts of “Stop!”. The Slovenian police take them to Croatia in a van and hand them over to the authorities. Then the Croatian police take them in a van to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). There is no procedure carried out, the Croatian officers only take time to fire two tear gas cannisters into the rear of the van, before locking the door. The five people, choked and vomiting, are driven for around six hours and dumped at a remote border spot. Here there are more Croatian police officers. The authorities strip them of their clothes and push them half naked into the river which marks the border, forcing them back into BiH.

One story, to another… Continue reading “600th Pushback Report made by the Border Violence Monitoring Network”

Is Bosnia and Herzegovina a safe country to readmit to?

No right to food. No right to water. No right to shelter. No right to walk in the street. No access to asylum. No access to healthcare. Is this a safe country to be returning people-on-the-move?

In the 2007 bilateral agreement signed between Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) and the European Union (EU), Article 13 explicitly states an obligation to “non-refoulement”. This principle ensures that an individual’s removal to BiH can be halted:

“(a) if the third-country national or the stateless person runs the real risk of being subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment

BVMN, alongside media and human rights groups, have substantiated the claims that Croatia is illegally pushing people back into BiH, aspects of which are often tantamount to torture. But recent news from BiH shows that the conditions awaiting people in the primary receiving state also go further: fundamentally violating the principle of “non-refoulement”. Continue reading “Is Bosnia and Herzegovina a safe country to readmit to?”