“Moving on a dusty road to Croatia”

  • Date and time: January 18, 2021 00:00
  • Location: close to Voštane, Bosnia
  • Coordinates: 43.666201607626, 16.92303565597
  • Pushback from: Croatia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 3 person(s), age: 18, 30, 42 , from: Iran
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, threatening with guns, gunshots, forcing to undress, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving
  • Police involved: 3 police vans, 10 officers in black uniforms, triangle symbol on the upper left arm + 7 police officers at the station
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: fingerprints taken, photos taken, papers signed, no translator present, forced to undress
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: Aid Brigade Sarajevo

Original Report

On the 14th of January, a group of 3 men left Sarajevo to the City Livno (Bosnia), which is close to the border of Croatia. The transit group took a bus and paid the price for whole journey. However, they reported that authorities stopped the bus and dragged them out, along with all the other people-on-the-move present on the bus, mid-way through the journey. The respondent reports that they were told to walk back to Sarajevo but continued to walk to Livno on foot. This was a two day trip. From there they tried to move on a dusty road to go to Croatia.

After 4 nights walking, they reportedly managed to cross a bridge and reached Croatia. The respondent suspects that the owner of a barking dog they passed called the police and alerted them to their presence. Shortly after the first car, described as police vehicle, arrived. A second came, reportedly there were a total of 7-8 officers, described as police men. The respondent claims that these officers confiscated the wallets of the respondent and other members of the transit group, and the one mobile phone they had with them.

The respondent describes how the transit group were then taken to a police station: they were loaded into a vehicle, and the part where they were seated did not have any windows so the respondent cannot give details about where they were driven. He describes the drive as lasting around 20 minutes and describes that they then arrived somewhere in the centre of a village.

When they reached the police station, the police reportedly gave them some papers in Croatian, forced them to sign them and to write their names beneath, even though they did not know what was written on it and there was no translator. The respondent stated that the group were begging the police to let them stay, and let them know that they wanted to apply for asylum, but the police reportedly did not accept their claim. The police gave back the wallets, but the respondent states that they emptied them beforehand, taking all the euros and Croatian cunas they had with them. The police also gave back the mobile phone at this point. The respondent supposes the police would not have done this if it would have been a more expensive model.

Afterwards the respondent claims that the group were told to take off all their warm clothes, put it into their bags together with their other belongings including more clothing, their food leftovers and water. They reportedly then had to hand it over to the police.

The respondent describes how two officers, described as belonging to the Croatian police force, brought them back to Bosnia. They were loaded into the back of a police van which proceeded to drive recklessly; they were slipping from one side of the van to another as there were no seatbelts. On top of this, the air conditioning was turned on to make the inside of the car cold even though outside it was snowing. Eventually, when they disembarked they were in an unknown rural location, nowhere close to a city or village. The officers reportedly threatened the group, showing them their batons and saying they would beat them up the next time they tried to cross. After the transit group had walked some meters, the respondent reported that one of the officers fired his gun into the sky.

During their walk back, the respondent reported that he could see the lights of the vehicle for the next hour, and supposed that the officers were waiting to make sure they walked away from the border. It was very cold and snowing, and the transit group were now in a state of undress. The respondent states that they walked 16 hours to get to the nearest bus station, where they waited a further 2-3 hours for a bus to arrive that would bring them back to Sarajevo.