During the night of the 8th February 2020, at roughly 17:00; three young Moroccans in transit were walking in a forest not far from Sisak (HR) when they were apprehended by authorities. The respondent cannot recall the exact coordinates where the Croatian police van stopped them, stating:
“I can’t remember because I was stressed. I am choked”
Between five and six police officers (male) wearing dark blue uniforms and using ski masks to cover their faces got out from the van and ordered the three respondents to lie, faces down on the ground. Immediately, the group were violently frisked. Their backpacks, money, phones and power banks were “stolen” by the Croatian authorities. In addition to taking the personal belongings, the police took off jackets and shoes from the respondents. Besides that, one of the officers took the opportunity to hit each of them with batons, while they were still lying on the ground on their stomachs.
Afterwards, the authorities set fire to the personal belongings of the group that had been confiscated. The respondent reports seeing one officer empty the food out of their backpacks into the fire before throwing them in as well. The respondent was unable to notice if the officers had kept the phones and the money with them or thrown these into the fire also.
“I couldn’t watch this fire”
The group on the move were brought to a police van parked nearby. The respondent supposes that some policemen stayed at this location when the vehicle left. No one from the group had been aware of where they were being taken and the officers did not inform them. The respondent was hit for asking a question to the officers, so remained silent.
“I asked a cigarette to an officer, he slapped me. Then, I kept my mouth shut”
After a one hour drive – reported as rough and erratically taken – the van (a windowless vehicle with uncomfortable air conditioning on – arrived at the border of Croatia / Bosnia-Herzegovina. At the border, the respondent reports feeling high levels of stress. The location was remote and he could not recall the precise place as it was dark.
An officer opened the doors of the van, which allowed the group on the move to distinguish about five police officers dressed in the same manner as the previous ones: dark blue uniform, “police” written on the back and faces covered with ski masks. The officers cried at the men as they disembarked the vehicle:
“Go in Bosnia !”
One by one, the respondents had to go out of the van and be beaten from the authorities’ batons. After this, they were forced to run to cross the border because the policemen were chasing after them armed with the batons. Early on the cold morning, after what the group on the move felt as ten hours of walking, they arrived in Velika Kladuša, without any shoes nor jacket.
Recalling a remark from one of the officers, the respondent shared how:
“I asked to the policemen for asylum, he responded me ‘asylum doesn’t exists in Croatia’”