The Interview concerning this incident was conducted with one group member with the help of a translator from Pashtu to English.
A group of people on the move left Velika Kladuša and walked through Croatia to Slovenia. On the seventh day at around 12am. they were walking in a forest where a local hunter detected them. Some of the boys from the group approached the hunter and politely asked him not to call the police, but he did not listen to them and called the police. Once the police arrived, they said to the boys that the hunter called them and explained that there was a group of men walking with the intention to cross the border to Italy. The minors told the police that this was not true because they wanted to reach Ljubjana and apply for asylum there.
We did not have money for going to Italy by a car. So, our plan was to go to Slovenia and apply there for the asylum there
Soon after the first group of police officers arrived, they called another 10 police officers. This second group of police officers asked the boys whether they had some money, but the boys told them that they did not.
The respondent stated that the group tried several times, to explain to the police officers, that they wanted to apply for asylum in Slovenia. One showed the police his WhatsApp conversation with the lawyers from PIC whom he had contacted once he crossed to Slovenia. The WhatsApp conversation contained the location and time when the group crossed the border to Slovenia and proved their intention to seek asylum in the country as it clearly stated “I want asylum in Slovenia”. But the police officers did not pay any attention to this and responded only by laughing at them.
The police further told the men to lay down on the ground with their faces down. The men had to stay like this for 25 minutes while the police officers were searching their bodies, searching for money.
Afterwards the police gave them a document and asked them to sign it. But the men did not understand the content of the paper as it was written in Slovenian language and they were not provided a translation in English or Pashtu. The officers made them sign the paper. Afterwards, three minors from the group were transported to the police station, while others were pushed directly back to Croatia and from there to Bosnia. Two of the minors were enabled to seek asylum in Slovenia and one was pushed back to Bosnia the following day.
The other ten were taken in a small van to the border to Croatia. They stated that the car was closed and dark. According to the respondent, it was very hot inside of the van and the police switched on a heater, so that the men had problems breathing and got sick. The journey to the Croatian border in this closed van took around 3 hours. One of the men was losing consciousness because of the heat. Although the men knocked on the door and asked for help, the police only responded by shouting at them: “What do you want?”, and closed the door again.
We were very hungry but they only gave us old bread with water.
At the Croatian-Slovenian border, the men had to change vans and were then driven by the Croatian police to the Bosnian border. The Croatian police left them around 23 kilometers away from Velika Kladuša, from where they walked for 6 hours in the night until they reached Velika Kladuša.