On the night of August 29th, a group of 45 people was apprehended by Croatian authorities in the proximities of Road 1 in Croatia and subsequently pushed back to Velika Kladusa, BiH. During their pushback, the group experienced sexual violence.
The respondent describes that they were walking in the darkness of the night, when suddenly “police was coming from all sides next to Road 1”. The respondent pointed out the presence of Regular Police officers as well as IJP officers with ski masks both nearby Road 1 in Croatia and at the pushback site.
The respondent claims that the Croatian authorities surrounded the group members and told them to lay flat on the ground. “When police see us say we have to lay down”. According to the respondent, police caught all the group members and put them all in one spot, and later took all the phones and money from the group members.
While they were laying down, the respondent asserts that the Croatian authorities beat all the group members with a baton and that they broke one of the group member’s nose. “We have one Pakistani guy he’s living in Lipa, when border police come, his nose breaks”.
The respondent says that this time, as well as in other pushbacks he has experienced, when there were Indian group members, the Croatian authorities targeted them more than those coming from Afghanistan or Pakistan.
“Sometimes police say to the boys ‘where are you from?’ and we say Afghanistan, Pakistan and others say India. From India, police beating them”.
The respondent asserts that the Croatian police asked around 8 or 10 group members to take off their clothes and used a baton to beat them in their genitals.
“We are 45 people, only 10 people had no clothes, no underwear. Three people from India, some from Afghanistan and Pakistan (…). Police said open your clothes, and beat Indian people with a stick in this side and this side (pointing to his genitals and bottom)”
The respondent recalls that he, together with other group members, was asked to take off his clothes, while the rest of the group members were forced to look at them naked.
“Police said to me open all your clothes and said to other boys look at him. All people look and this is not good for me”.
The respondent asserts that Croatian authorities touched him in his genitals, as well as other group members from 14, 15 years old. “I feel sorry for that, I’m man and police touches me in here and here (pointing to his genitals and bottom) and is not good”
The respondent recalls that this was not his first time with sexual abuse by Croatian authorities, but rather he had witnessed it beforehand: “Not this game, but before one game, other boys were told to open their clothes and told them to start having sex and police had mobile and video it, other police said this is not good.”
“Police is police, we are refugees, whatever police wants to do with us”
Furthermore, according to the respondent, the minors in the group expressed that they were underage but the police did not listen to them. Moreover, when asked if the group members asked for asylum, the respondent replies: “We want to talk to police but police don’t want”
The respondent recalls that the group members were taken in three different vehicles and that the trip to the pushback site in Velika Kladusa lasted for what he thought was 1 hour and 20 minutes. When the vehicle arrived at the border, the respondent claims that there were around 8 border police officers awaiting them. According to him, then the Croatian police took their bags, shoes, and jackets and told them to cross the river running. “When we deport, police take our jacket, and we only have one T-shirt and trousers and go to the water”.
The respondent recalls that the group members were asked to cross the river in Velika Kladusa at 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning. “This time really cold in the river. We don’t have our jacket, police takes it and we go to the river and it’s very dangerous”. While they were crossing the river, the respondent says that the authorities threatened them with a baton and guns. “They had sticks and big, big guns and sometimes say ‘We will kill you’, but we were only going to the river in the Bosnian border”.