On approximately December 16th, 2020 a group of four people were pushed back from Croatia into Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the preceding hours, the group had crossed into Croatia on foot and continued into the interior of Croatia with the intention of continuing on towards Slovenia. They were found by the authorities and arrested close to the Croatian town of Slunj in a village area called Cvitović. The respondent describes that the group was stopped by the side of a road in the forest, the police officers that arrested them, was regular police with blue uniforms. During this first interaction with the officer, the respondents described encountering direct physical violence from the officers before a van arrived to the scene to transport them.
“There we where not hit that badly, just a bit with some sticks, but we had to wait outside in the cold until there was a van coming that could bring us to the border.”
The police vehicle was a prison van without windows and it was hard to breath inside. The van drove the group back towards the Croatian border with Bosnia, which was described as a forested area by the respondent, around 15-20 km south of Velika Kladusa, and close to the Croatian village of Šiljkovača.
There, the group was received by another police unit comprised of 8 Croatian police officers, wearing black uniforms and ski masks. The group was forced to leave the police van one by one and walk away. The respondent was severely beaten by 4 police officers during this time:
“ I had the feeling they where beating us for at least 20 min, imagine that, I am asthmatic, and I showed the my tool and everything, they didn’t care. they continued beating me!”
They were using hands and sticks, and were also kicking with feet:
“It was really horrible, I lost breath, but they only continued, and told me to lye down on the floor!”
“That’s physical and moral torture, you want to cry when you see that, we didn’t do anything to them!”
The police officers also deprived the group of all their personal belongings and cloths.
“We had to come back to Bosnia all naked, you cannot imagine that, but luckily the people from Bosnia are nice, and they helped us, they gave us cloths.”
The respondent claims,
“They didn’t take any papers, signature, there is nothing official, no one will ever notice what happened, it’s all like when you catch an animal in the forest! And when you ask the responsible people, they say that it has never happened!”
The police officers didn’t talk to the group, except for giving orders. The respondent also remembers that in the end they said,
“When you come back here, we will kill you!”