The respondents, a group of four people aged 25, 26, 27 and 30, were stopped by Croatian police officers on a bus travelling from Slunj bus station (HR) (approximately 45.116566, 15.585454), at approximately 15.30 on the 31st December 2019. The respondent reports the bus driver calling police and telling them that some people-on-the-move were on the bus.
Two policemen wearing blue uniform with the Croatian emblem on their shoulder arrived with a police van. The officers stopped the bus and asked the transit group to show their documents. The respondent stated that police went directly to the transit group and did not ask for documents to any other passengers on the bus. The respondents answered “I don’t have [documents]” in response to the polices questions. The group was forced to leave the bus and loaded into a police van, which traveled a short distance to the local police station.
In the police station there were three policemen wearing blue uniforms. The respondents asked for asylum and police answered them:
“go to Bosnia to ask asylum”
No official translator was present in the police station, so the respondents could not properly understand what was happening, nor were the respondents given any explanation or document about the procedures being carried out. The police frisked the respondents, took their phones and their powerbanks and withheld them.
After approximately 30 minutes, the respondents were loaded in another police van which drove them to the border of HR with BiH (approximately 45.025686,15.760109), travelling for a period of time perceived as 10 minutes long. The respondent did not know where he was going nor had the van any window to see outside. The respondent reports the police driving reckless. Because of the dark, it was impossible for the respondent to distinguish the colour of the uniform of the two policemen who were driving the van.
Arriving at the border, the respondents were forced to pull off their jackets and their shoes while still inside the van. After that, the respondents were made to exit the van. Outside, another six policemen were waiting for the group. The respondent asserts that these police officers were wearing blue uniforms as well, but affirms that he cannot be sure because of the dark and also because the police were pointing the flashlights in the face of the transit group to blind them. One of the respondents asked to have his phone and powerbank back and stretched his hand towards a policeman, who hit his hand and back with the baton. During this interaction at the border another respondent was beaten by police with a baton as well. The respondent reports police shouting to them:
“go go, go Kladusa”.
The transit group started to walk towards Bosnia-Herzegovina. Walking for approximately half kilometer from the point in which they were pushed back, the group crossed over a river by foot, the water reaching their hips. After crossing this they arrived back into BiH territory.