On the 12th April 2021, a group of 3 people from Afghanistan were pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia.
The group of more than 10 had been walking for around 9 days across Croatia and were close to the border with Slovenia. While they were in a wooded part of the country, the weather changed and a lot of snow fell. Some of the group continued their journey, but 10 group members were unable to continue.
The group of 10 walked to the main road, E65, to seek help. There they encountered 4 officers in blue uniforms (one female, three male) which the respondent described as the city police. This matches the description of the regular police force in Croatia.
“When they get you there in the city everything seems normal, they’re friendly and everything.”
The group was taken to a police station in a van, where their personal details were written on a piece of paper. Each group member was then photographed holding their piece of paper “like a criminal, like in the movies”. The respondent also described how “If you ask for food or anything they don’t give you anything.”
The group was then loaded into two different vans – 3 people in one van and 7 in the other. The vans were described as prison vans, with no windows and two big fans. The fans were on and made the conditions inside the car very cold. During the four-and-a-half-hour journey, the vehicles stopped three times, which the respondent thinks was to change drivers.
The van with 3 people in, arrived at a place near the border but still in Croatia. There were four officers dressed in black uniforms including black masks – likely the Intervention Unit. One officer was brandishing a baton and demanded that the group put their bags and coats into the fire. There was a guy that did not have a jacket so he said “put your hat!”
They also took the shoelaces of the group members, as well as four phones, some power banks, and some money in different currencies. They then returned to the vehicle and were left at the border near Bihac city at around 5 pm.
The respondent was keen to point out that this was a mild treatment by the officers, he said:
“I’m not saying that they [the intervention unit] are all really bad. 3 or 4 times I’ve been deported and 2 times they beat me but they take the things. This time just about the phone and the jacket and the bag. Our friends were deported to a different place and they were beaten. I know why they take the phone so we can’t try again, but I don’t know why they take the clothes. I don’t understand. Imagine if they deport us somewhere far, like 6 or 7 hours [walking to a city] and they always deport around evening time. Where will you sleep if you don’t have sleeping bags or jackets? Then we will die somewhere in Bosnia and then they will blame it on Bosnia when no-one will know the real reason.”