The group of four respondents, three from Morocco and one from Algeria, aged 16, 17, 26, 44 years old, were stopped by two male Slovenian officers wearing blue uniform while they was walking on a path in Slovenia (approximate coordinates 45.8703785, 15.1706825 SLO), on the 2nd February 2020 at approximately 05.30 in the morning.
When the two policemen saw the group of respondents, one policemen drew a gun and from a distance of around four metres aimed it at the group. Meanwhile the other officer shined a flashlight on the group. The officer aiming the gun reportedly said:
“If you run, I am gonna shot you”
The group of respondents were forced into a line “one by one”, guarded by the two policemen and walked to an official van which was parked nearby. Two other police officers arrived at the scene. The respondents affirm that the two police officers who caught them remained in the area of apprehension, while the newly arrived authorities dealt with the group.
At this point, the transit group were asked their nationalities and ages by the police. The respondents were frisked and all their personal belongings and clothes were taken – such as jackets, jumpers, power-banks, money, phones as well as all the backpack.
The officers pushed the group roughly into the van and in several occaisions held some of the transit group by their bodies in order to hit them in the back of the head with their hands. Describing one of the officers conduct the respondent said:
“The guy police officer was full racist and pushed us, taking pleasure of it”
In the windowless van, the transit group reported reckless driving, and uncomfortable air conditioning on. The respondents noticed that the van stopped for a long time, suggesting:
“He stopped for a coffee… and put the air conditioning hardest”
“Police officers are playing with us”
The transit group suggest the trip took around one hour. The officers didn’t say to respondents where they were being taken. The respondents just noticed they were at a “border police station”, supposing this to be the border between Slovenia and Croatia.
When the transit group got out of the van, they described one female and one male police officer wearing blue uniforms standing before them. These officers forcibly pushed each group member into a cell described as very cold, wet, without light and with an “horrible smell”. The conditions were referred to as follows:
“It’s not an acceptable situation for civilized country. It is like if you were in a Third-World country”
Once the transit group were all in the cell, one male authority removed them one by one in order to frisk their bodies for possessions and beat them again with hands and kicks. The group explains that the male officer could not find anything when he was frisking them because the two previously policemen who already frisked the respondents had taken everything: “they let us [removed] anything” adds a respondent.
“They frisks you, they beat you and after they put you into the cell in a savage way”.
One respondent reports feeling “traumatized” by the “incessant” laughter from the policewoman who was witness to the frisking and beating. The group on the move was unable to recall the total number of police officers present at the police station because “we [the group of the respondents] was downstairs and they [the police officers] was upstairs” says one of the respondents.
During the detention, the group of respondents didn’t have access to food nor water and the cell’s toilet was broken.
“I was shouting: ‘sir, please, we just want water’. He didn’t respond even to us”
After what the group of respondents felt was three hours spent in the cell, they were forced to make a line to go into an official van which was waiting for them in front of the police station. The group reports that roughly nine Croatians officers – a combination of officers matching the description of regular police and Intervention officers – were around the vehicle. Inside the van where they were loaded the same male and female Croatian officers that put them into the cell were present.
The group were driven for around 1.30 hours. The respondents report reckless driving in a van without windows and with the conditioning air on to an uncomfortable degree. After driving on what the respondents percieved as the highway, the van took smaller roads. The group of respondents supposedly heard two other cars in front of theirs at this moment.
After roughly 30 minutes of reckless drive on the road, the van stopped in a border location between Croatia / Bosnia-Herzegovina (45°13’11.0″N 15°51’56.6″E).
At this point, three cars was present. One official car and one other official van; in addition to the first one in which the group of respondents had been conveyed. The transit group reports ten male and one female police officers being present. They was wearing the same kind of combination of uniform that the nine police officers outside the police station had worn. By this way, the group of respondents supposes that it was the same officers. “It was like mafia” shared one of the respondents when recalling the treatment at the border.
One of the policemen opened the van’s doors to remove the group. One of the officers asked the respondents to take their backpacks (which were in the car).
“They said take your bags. During ten seconds we had hope they will give us back but after they said put the bags on the ground”.
The respondents feel that this action was on purpose to make fun of them, leading them to believe that the officers would return their possessions. The transit group saw some of the officers smiling.
“They was playing with us. It’s a psychological torture”
The officers ordered the group to leave Croatia. One of the respondents asked for the road they should take to go back to Velika Kladuša (BiH).
“We are on the forest, we didn’t have any idea about the direction to take”
After what, one of the officer beat him with a baton.
“If you ask something, they hit you”
“I was walking around saying please give me my phone and give us our bags and one policemen hit me with the baton.”
Around 09.00, the transit group left the pushback site to go back to Velika Kladuša (BiH), they saw smoke coming from where the officers had piled their bags.
“I saw the smoke coming from the place where we was with the police, so I thank their was burning our bags. They burned all my documents, pictures, driver’s licenses, degrees from school, my passport… I had all my life with me, I didn’t know.”
The group on the move walk for what felt like 2.30 hours and arrived in Velika Kladuša (BiH) at 12:00 3rd February 2020. Describing the way the Croatian officer treated them, one respondent said:
“They didn’t give to us the chance to speak with them. My friend wanted to speak with them. I said to him no because they will butcher you. They was like monsters with only one thing to do in their life : punch, doing bad things. They was like black heart.”