“They don’t respect us (…) We are not people - we are animals for them”

  • Date and time: February 7, 2022 06:00
  • Location: near Cetingrad, Croatia
  • Coordinates: 45.149658, 15.771012
  • Pushback from: Croatia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 9 person(s), age: 5, 8, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 24, 39 years old , from: Afghanistan, Iraq
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: no violence used
  • Police involved: Ten suspected Croatian border police officers, one prisoner transport van, two 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

The respondent is a 24-year-old man from Afghanistan, who was pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina on Feburary 7th.

He explained that he and his 19-year-old wife from the Kurdish region in Iraq were part of a transit group consisting of his wife’s mother (39), her two sisters (18, 8), two brothers (21, 5), and two single male teenagers (16, 17) from Afghanistan.

According to the respondent, the transit group left Velika Kladuša in Bosnia and Herzegovina at approximately 3 am on foot and walked for an estimated two and a half hours, then crossed the Bosnian-Croatian border.

The respondent stated that they were apprehended by a group of uniformed officers near the Croatian town of Cetingrad. He was able to point to the exact coordinates of the location: 45.157970, 15.748667. The officers had arrived at location with three cars. The respondent described the cars as “normal police cars” and said a total of ten people in dark blue uniforms were on the scene. The description of the uniforms they were wearing corresponds to the description of the Croatian border police uniforms.

The respondent stated that when the officers arrived, he and the group tried to ask for asylum:

“And we say: ‘we come to asylum here’. And they say nothing, just smiling, they are like we are dogs.“.

According to the respondent, the five male transit group members were patted down and the backpacks of the group were searched. Each transit group member was asked to hand over their personal belongings (phones, power banks, and lighters).

The respondent stated that after less than 5 minutes a large white van arrived, the description of which corresponds to a prisoner transport van. The transit group subsequently got in and drove for what felt to the respondent like 10 to 20 minutes.

At the pushback location (near Cetingrad, Croatia) two “small cars, like before” arrived at the same time as the prisoner transport van. One of the officers from one of these cars reportedly gave the mobile phone and power bank back to the respondent. The respondent counted a total of ten people with dark blue uniforms at this place, resembling that of the Croatian border police.

The respondent stated that the group was sent back to Bosnia with the following words: “And they say: ‘See you again’, like this, smiling.”

Throughout their encounters with the police, the respondent described being treated with disdain:

They don’t respect us, (…) We are not people – we are animals for them“.

Even after several attempts to draw attention to the women and children present, the respondent said there was no possibility for the family to ask for asylum. From the pushback location, they had to walk for an estimated three hours in the rain before they arrived back to Velika Kladuša again at 9 am.