“I need food, I don’t eat for three or four days”

  • Date and time: January 23, 2020 05:00
  • Location: near Buhača, Croatia
  • Coordinates: 45.189944, 15.783335
  • Push-back from: Slovenia, Croatia
  • Push-back to: Croatia, Bosnia
  • Demographics: 4 person(s), age: 18, 19, 20, 31 years old , from: Morocco
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving
  • Police involved: 3 police officers (2 male, 1 female) with black uniform and two dogs with muzzle and no leash, 1 white van; 4 police officers (3 male, 1 female) with black uniforms and Croatian emblem; 3 male police officers with black uniforms; 1 male and 1 female Croatian police officers; 3 Croatian police officers; 2 officers with black uniforms and ski mask
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, fingerprints taken, photos taken, personal information taken, papers signed, no translator present, denial of food/water
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: Border Violence Monitoring, No Name Kitchen

Original Report

A transit group of four men from Morocco aged 18, 19, 20, 31 were attempting to  pass through Slovenia in late January 2020. They were in the woods near Jagodnik (SLO) at approximate coordinates 45.870301, 15.170671 when the respondent decided to head towards the nearest village to search for food at approximately 11:00 on 22nd January 2020.

“I need food, I don’t eat for three or four days, I want to see people [to ask for food], I am very hungry”

The respondent was stopped in the street by three police officers (two male, and one female) wearing black uniforms. They had two dogs with them wearing muzzles and no leash. One white van without any “police” emblem was also there. The respondent does not remember whether there was any official emblem on police’ s uniforms. Police asked the respondent his name, his country of origin and where his friends were, supposing that the rest of the group was hiding somewhere. Police then set the dogs to search in the woods for the rest of the group. 

The respondent was loaded into the white van and brought to a police station. The driving was extremely erratic so the respondent threw up during the travel, which lasted roughly 20 minutes. “Ghaloufa [police van] is bad car”, the respondent says. The van had no windows and was cold. 

At the police station there were ten or eleven officers wearing black uniforms with  the Croatian emblem, four of which (three male, one female) dealt with the respondent. The respondent had fingerprints of the index and middle finger of his right hand taken as well as frontal pictures of his face. Police also checked the respondent’s phone, accessing his media and his maps on the app “MapsMe”.

The respondent was asked for his personal information (name, age, country of origin) and had to fill in a document which asked for information about his recent travel history: when did you arrive in Bosnia-Herzegovina, how long did you stay in Turkey, Montenegro and other transit countries? The respondent was then forced to sign a document written in English and Arabic. He did not have a chance to read the document as the police told him to hurry up. No official translator was present in the police station during this period. 

The respondent said he spent twelve hours at the police station and was forced to take off his clothes before entering the cell. After a couple of hours, the rest of his group arrived at the police station. They were all also forced to take off their clothes before entering the cell.

At approximately 01:00 (on 23rd January 2020), the group in transit – still without clothing – were loaded into a police van and driven to Croatia by three male officers wearing black uniforms. After approximately 30 minutes, the van arrived at a police station in Croatia, but the respondent could not recall where they were taken as it was dark. Slovenian police gave the group their telephones back – which were all now broken – and delivered them to the Croatian police. One male and one female Croatian police officers put the group in a cell, where they spent four hours. In the cell, there was a squat toilet, fixed cameras and it was very cold. The group asked for food and water but police denied them both. 

After four hours, at approximately 04:00 or 05:00 on the 23rd January 2020, the group  were loaded in a police van with three Croatian police officers. Due to the erratic driving of the van, the respondent threw up again. At the border with Bosnia-Herzegovina (approximate coordinates 45.189944, 15.783335), there were two officers waiting for them, wearing black uniforms and ski masks. One by one, the respondents exited the van and the officers told them to go back to Bosnia. The group walked for roughly three kilometres back to the city of Velika Kladusa (BiH).