“Told to "try again"”

  • Date and time: January 27, 2022 00:00
  • Location: Near Velika Kladuša
  • Coordinates: 45.1840797, 15.8068421
  • Pushback from: Croatia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 11 person(s), age: Unknown , from: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: reckless driving
  • Police involved: Seven men described as "simple police" in dark blue and two wearing plain-clothes; four officers described as "simple police" and two as "border police"
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, photos taken, personal information taken, papers signed, no translator present
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: No Name Kitchen

Original Report

On January 27, the respondent, an Afghan national, was pushed back from Bosnia to Croatia with 10 people from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The respondent and his original group crossed a river near Banja Luka to enter Croatia and then walked approximately three hours to road 70. There they waited for a car to take them further; the car did not arrive as scheduled and they spent an entire day in the forest outside a small village. The respondent said that the next day at roughly 4 pm a car arrived, and half of the group got in the car. The respondent and four others continued to wait.

Two officers, referred to as the respondent by “simple police” with dark blue shirts arrived in a police car and detained the respondent and the four others. An estimated 20 minutes later two additional cars and a large police van marked “Policija” with approximately seven or eight officers arrived. The respondent described the officers as wearing dark blue uniforms with two men in plain clothes.

The group were reportedly taken to a police station in the van. The respondent could not find the exact station on the map but had been there many times. At the police station, he explained that he was from a small, poor family and asked to stay; he told them his parents’ names, and where exactly he was from and asked to stay. They told him to “try again,” but nevertheless photographed him and made him sign papers he could not read. He did not receive any papers nor was a translator present. He remarked that he was asked to act as a translator because of his English skills.

From the police station, he and 10 others were loaded into a van. He added that some of these others were not from his original group.

The respondent then described his journey to the border which, he said, should have been very short based on the actual distance. The first two officers drove the group for an estimated 30 minutes, then another two police drove for what felt like 30 minutes to the respondent. Then two officers wearing dark blue, who the respondent believed to be members of the border police drove them. The entire journey should have taken about one hour, but they drove around for three to four hours. The respondent commented that the driving was rough and dizzying, some of the group began to feel ill and they tried to get the drivers’ attention. The drivers stopped the van and asked what the problem was. The group asked them to start the fan, which they did but continued driving around.

The respondent described these unnecessarily long, rough rides without sufficient ventilation as typical. In his words, “This is not good. You catch me, deport, but this is a problem. And bringing to different places is a problem.”

Upon arriving at the pushback location, the respondent again said, “please, give us stay,” but was told he had to return. The group were pushed back to Velika Kladuša. A local person reportedly gave the respondent and each of his friends the necessary money for a bus to Bihać.