On February 2nd, 2021 a group of 14 people was pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia. The group was composed of 4 families from Afghanistan, 4 men, 4 women, and 6 small children. The group was apprehended by Croatian authorities on a road right after they had crossed the border to Croatia in the area close to Velika Kladusa.
A Croatian police van, described by the respondent as a type of prisoner van, took the group to a border crossing point around 10 km south of Velika Kladusa, close to the Croatian village of Šiljkovača. According to the respondent, at this point, 8 police officers, wearing black uniforms and ski masks, were waiting for the group.
The officers separated the women and children from the men, by forcing them to go behind a hill out of sight from their husbands. The respondent explained:
“they tell us, that the husbands will come after 25 minutes. We ask why? And what do you do, what do you want? The policeman say go go go!”
When the 10-year-old daughter of the respondent refused to go away, she was allegedly struck by one of the police officers with a slap in the face.
The respondent recalled that when the women and children were out of sight, the police officers forced the four men to kneel down and hand over their phones and power banks to the authorities. While they were sitting, they were kicked with feet against the chest, before they were told to get up again. The group was strip-searched. The respondent described:
“ We had to take off t-shirt, jeans, shoes and they check everything, we have to take off the underwear also and then we were there with nothing, no clothes.”
Completely undressed the men were forced to lie down on the ground and were struck with a wooden stick. “They beat us all over the body, for a long time, feel like really 25 min!”
Afterwards, the group was handed back their shoes, pants and T-shirts. They dressed and were allowed to get up, but were struck again with the sticks, the respondent recalled.
“And then they say we have to make line, they beat us again and then tell us to go fast fast fast!”
The respondent said that they were then allowed to go back to their families, which had been surveilled by another part of the police unit.
The respondent suffered severe injuries on different parts of his body. He was left with one major bruise on his back due to a particular way in which the police had struck him:
“They wanted to make a cross in the back, one beat from that side, one from the other side – to give me a mark!”
He also described being beaten so strongly in the chest, that he had difficulties breathing afterwards.
After they were released, the group proceeded to walk back to Velika Kladusa on foot, which was a distance of approximately 12 km. The respondent said he went to see a local doctor upon his arrival in Velika Kladusa. The medical assessment, that the respondent presented while the interview took place, stated that an X-ray proved that he had a broken rib in his ribcage.