“Why you came here?”

  • Date and time: August 20, 2022 13:00
  • Location: Close to Katinovac
  • Coordinates: 45.2259375, 15.9256875
  • Pushback from: Croatia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 9 person(s), age: 18-25 years old , from: Afghanistan
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: insulting, theft of personal belongings, long waiting time in rough conditions, threatening with beating
  • Police involved: 2 Croatian officers in regular police uniform, 6 Croatian officers in border police uniform, 1 police van
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention:
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: No Name Kitchen

Original Report

A group of 9 Afghan men walked from Gradiska, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to the Croatian border on August 20th or 21st. The respondent doesn’t remember precisely if it was one day or the other.

They followed the Sava river for around 5-6 hours through the forest until they reached the highway M14 (presumably close to Jasenovac) around 1 p.m. After crossing the road, they reported being intercepted by two Croatian officers who searched them and took away all their valuable belongings (money, ID cards and other official documents, phones).

The respondent and his friends assumed that they would obtain the “7 days paper” (a document that orders you to leave the country within 7 days), therefore they did not try to escape from the officers. But when they asked the officers for this paper, they were reportedly told that this option no longer exists. Similarly, when the respondent asked to submit an asylum claim, he said he was told that Croatia is not giving asylum anymore – hence they were not allowed to apply for asylum, despite requesting it.

The respondent explained that the officers kept their belongings but did not destroy them, so the respondent was able to take his phone back when the police shift changed. The officers reportedly made the transit group sit down on the ground under the railway bridge for around 5-6 hours without explanation of what they were waiting for.

The officers did not use physical violence, but the respondent recalled that they insulted the men in Croatian and English using bad words and laughing at them, saying “why you came here?”.  One of the officers was able to communicate in good English with the transit group. During the waiting time, the respondent reported that they were not offered anything to eat nor drink.

The respondent described the two officers as wearing glasses and light blue shirts. The respondent referred to them as regular police officers.

After 5-6 hours of waiting, another 6 male officers arrived, and reportedly loaded the group into a van, where they spent an estimated 2 hours being driven back to an area around 20km away from Velika Kladuša. The respondent described the van as a “white prisoner van without windows nor sufficient ventilation, only some iron benches on each side“. He referred to this group of officers as “border police” according to their uniform.

After arriving, the transit group were met by more officers in border police uniform who made them leave the van one by one and reportedly told them to walk back across the border to Bosnia. The respondent asked to get his wallet back, since it contained all of his official cards and documents, but as a response he explained that the officers told him to leave, otherwise they would beat him up.

Five of the transit group members, including the respondent, made their way to Bihać and, once there, they walked 30km to reach Lipa camp. The other four group members attempted to cross the border into Croatia again, but the details of this journey remain unknown.