“'Don’t worry, I’m not a thief, I will give you the phone back', the police officer said ”

pushback location as indicated by the respondent, raw coordinates
pushback location near Veliki Obljaj, Croatia
  • Date and time: February 3, 2022 13:00
  • Location: near Veliki Obljaj, Croatia
  • Coordinates: 45.212728, 16.01779
  • Pushback from: Croatia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 3 person(s), age: 20, 22, 24 years old , from: Afghanistan
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: no violence used
  • Police involved: 3 officers in civil clothes and civil car (black Renault Clio), 5 police men in black uniform, 1 prisoner transport van, 2 patrol cars
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention:
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: No Name Kitchen

Original Report

Pushback from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina during “bus-game“attempt

Thursday, the 3rd of February 2022 at 1 pm a group of three men, all from Afghanistan was pushed back from Croatian territory (45.211957, 16.016191) to Bosnian territory during an attempt of the so-called “bus-game”.

The “bus-game” is a form of transit attempt in which the participants, after crossing the Bosnian-Croatian border on foot, try to transit Croatia by bus as quickly as possible in order to then cross the Croatian-Slovenian border. This is done in the hope of being able to assert their right to seek asylum there, which currently is in most cases not possible in Croatia.

The respondent is a 24-year-old man from Afghanistan. He and two of his friends (20, 22) took an autobus to the town of Vrnograč near the Bosnian-Croatian border on the 2nd February at three pm. After walking for three hours, the group held out for a while near the Bosnian-Croatian border, crossing it at a time when they expected less police presence. They crossed the border to Croatia at 11 pm on a small road in a forested area.

While the three were on their way to Glina, the nearest small town from where they wanted to catch a bus, they had to hide twice from what the respondent described as “passing police cars” in nearby bushes. The respondent stated that they reached Glina at 5 am. They took shelter and slept in an empty building for a few hours (until 9 am). Since the bus at 10.30 am left earlier than the transit group expected, they had to wait another two hours for the bus at 12.30 pm.

Within these two hours, the three got apprehended. The respondent stated that a black Renault Clio was parked in front of the house they were hiding and three men in normal clothes got out. They came into the empty building. The respondent was asked first, in Croatian, how he was doing. After he answered “Dobro, dobro“, one of the men asked where the respondent was from. When he answered that he was from Afghanistan, the man took out a badge (no further description) and said that he was a police officer and that he had to make the group leave Croatia now.

The respondent stated that he and his friends were then patted down and had to hand over all personal belongings. While the policeman said: “Don’t worry, I’m not a thief, I will give you the phone back“, he put the respondent’s phone, power bank, cigarettes and lighter in a plastic bag. Immediately afterward, the respondent stated to have asked about permanent stay: “I want to stay here”, whereupon the police officer laughed at him and told him that he knew since the respondent was trying to get a bus, he would not seriously want to stay in Croatia.

The police officer then made a phone call. The respondent suspected that he was calling what the respondent referred to as the “deport car”, described as a “white big car, with the iron in the windows, and a blue stripe”. This description matches with the prisoner transport vans used by the Croatian border police. The prisoner transport van arrived around 12.30 pm and the transit group was asked to get in.

In addition to the two police officers in the transport vehicle, the respondent stated that there were 5 other police officers in dark uniform, with firearms and batons at their bodies, and to “normal police cars” waiting at the actual pushback location, which they reached around 1 pm. There the respondent was given back the plastic bag with all his personal belongings and told to return to Bosnia by walking in the indicated direction.

The respondent was able to indicate the rough coordinates of the pushback location (45.211957, 16.016191). Since they were pushed backed at a location between the border town of Bojna and Velika Kladuša, they decided to return to their starting point Velika Kladuša by food. They returned at 6 pm.

pushback location as indicated by the respondent, raw coordinates
pushback location near Veliki Obljaj, Croatia