“Why you came here?”

  • Date and time: August 20, 2022 13:00
  • Location: Across the Glina river, 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 regular Croatian police officers, 6 Croatian border police officers, 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

The 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 river (presumably Save 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 street, they were intercepted by two Croatian police 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” (it’s a document that orders you to leave the country within 7 days, used sometimes instead of directly pushing back people), therefore they did not try to escape from the police. But when they asked the police officers for this paper, they were told that this option would no longer exist. Similarly, when the respondent asked for submitting an asylum claim, he was told that Croatia is not giving asylum anymore. They were eventually not allowed to apply for asylum.

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

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

The respondent describes the two police officers as wearing glasses and light blue shirts. From the description given, these police officers could belong to the croatian border police unit, but the respondent appoints them as regular police officers.

After 5-6 hours of waiting, other 6 police men arrived there, and loaded all the group inside a police van, where they spent the next 4-5 hours being driven back to an area around 20km away from Velika Kladusa. The respondent describes the car as a “white prisoner van without windows nor sufficient ventilation, only some iron benches on each side“. He refers to the police officers as “border police“.

After opening the door, the men were awaited by other border police who made them leave the van one by one and told them to walk back across the border to Bosnia. The respondent asked to get his wallet back, since it contained all his official cards and documents, but as a response the police officers told him to leave, otherwise they would beat him up.

Five group members, including the respondent, made their way to Bihac and, once there, they walked 30km to reach Lipa camp from there.

The other four men tried again, immediately afterwards, to cross the border to Croatia, but had to hide from strong rain the day after. A local person who saw the group called the police, so they were intercepted and pushed back again to the same border crossing. This time the police officers took not only their valuables, but also their jackets, despite the rainy weather. The respondent did not join this group, hence no more details about the second incident can be added in this report.