“No papers so no asylum”

  • Date and time: January 17, 2022 12:00
  • Location: Šiljkovača, Croatia
  • Coordinates: 45.135589, 15.781128
  • Pushback from: Croatia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 3 person(s), age: 29 years old, rest unknown , from: Iran, Cuba
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: no violence used
  • Police involved: 4 Croatian policemen in dark blue uniforms, 1 Croatian police car, 1 Croatian police van
  • 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 29-year-old woman from Cuba. She reports that two years ago, she arrived in Bosnia with her partner. They took a plane from Cuba to Russia and then went to Serbia from there – both places where they can travel with a visa –, and then walked through Montenegro to arrive in Sarajevo. They related that for the last six months they stayed in the Una-Sana Canton, from where they unsuccessfully tried to cross the border eleven times.

She related that she normally travels with her partner, but on the 17th of January 2022, she decided to try her luck alone. She decided to travel with a young Iranian couple who found shelter in a house close to where they live. Together, they left Hadžin Potok, a village situated next to the Croatian-Bosnian border, at around 2 am. She explained they left at night hoping there would be less police control than during the day.

They walked through the forest and eventually stopped at a crossroads in the south of Kruškovača, in Croatia, at around 7 am (approximate location: 45.088583, 15.733889). The respondent reported that they waited hidden in the forest for about two hours because they wanted to contact the Croatian Law Center, a Croatian NGO, which they knew opened at 9 am.

The respondent then called and sent texts to the Croatian Law Center explaining that they were three people wishing to apply for asylum. The Center told them they informed the police about their presence, and that they should stay where they are and remain visible.

A Croatian police car with two men in dark blue uniforms arrived at their location at around 11 am. The respondent reported that as soon as the policemen approached them, they asked for asylum repeating the words “we need asylum”. The policemen then asked if they had papers, and, as the three of them answered that they didn’t, the officers simply asserted “no papers, so no asylum”. The respondent actually explained that her passport had been taken by the Croatian police and burnt in front of her eyes the first time she tried to enter Croatia trying to apply for asylum.

The policemen then thoroughly searched the group, also the women. Then they took their phones and told them to stay silent and wait. A moment later, two policemen dressed in the same dark blue uniform arrived in a white van with the Croatian police symbol on it. The respondent stated that those newly arrived officers did not let them talk, took the phones from their colleagues, and urged them to get in the van.

They drove for about one hour until they were taken out of the van at the border in the area of Šiljkovača (45.135589, 15.781128). The policemen gave them their phones back and told them to walk back to Bosnia. Because the police officers pushed them back far from their point of departure, the respondent reported that they had to walk for about 5-6 hours in order to return to the place where they took shelter.