On August 24, a group of eight young men were pushed back from Slovenia to Bosnia via Croatia. The primary respondent for this report was 19 years old; he and his group were from Pakistan. The others were older than him, but all in their early twenties.
After making their way through Croatia into Slovenia in the preceding week, the group was making its way through the forest areas surrounding the town of Ilirska Bistrica in Slovenia, at which point they waived to a police car. There was a woman officer and the respondent immediately asked for asylum when she stopped. He said, “I want asylum, here I don’t want to go back” and told the story of his journey from Pakistan to Slovenia.
The officer who stopped called for further backup. After some time, two other (male) officers arrived on the scene who eventually transported the group to the police station in Ilirska Bistrica. The respondent begged not to be deported because of the violence of the Croatian police and then to be deported to Serbia and not Bosnia if they were going to deport him.
When asked how the police responded to his plea for asylum, the respondent said they gave him six papers to sign (he did not understand the content). They kept three papers and gave him three; Croatian authorities later took these papers from him as well as his phone, so he had no record of them.
After some time in the station, the Slovenian authorities drove the group back to the border with Croatia. The respondent describes them as having “good behavior,” i.e., not hurting the group. They were then transferred to the custody of Croatian officers wearing balaclavas.
Shortly after this, the Croatian officers drove them back to the Bosnian border. There they took their mobiles, their money and their clothes. The young man described having his pants, his underwear, his shoelaces taken and his shirt ripped. He was made to walk back to Croatia without clothes.
He said the police did the same to his friends – took their money, mobiles and possessions; stripped them. And also hit him and the others. They begged to pay to be deported to Serbia, but the Croatian officers made them walk back to Bosnia.
“They think we are animals, but we want a good life. We are humans, not animals,” he said.