“They wanted to do a quick job: boom boom boom”

  • Date and time: January 30, 2021 00:00
  • Location: 45km from Mostar
  • Coordinates: 43.448511025915, 17.348925420194
  • Pushback from: Croatia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 3 person(s), age: 18, 24, 32 , from: Morocco
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, forcing to undress, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving
  • Police involved: 13 Croatian border officers, 10 with black uniforms with the sign „HR‟ at the upper arm and black ski masks, 3 police vans
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, photos taken, papers signed, denial of access to toilets, denial of food/water, denial to sit down
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: Aid Brigade Sarajevo

Original Report

On Wednesday, 27th of January 2021, three men crossed the border between Bosnia and Croatia near the village Ljubuški. The respondent described how they lost their way and spent two days in the mountains. On the third day, they reached a village in Croatia and found a bus station, where they took the bus at 6 am. They entered the bus and bought tickets. After around 52km four policemen wearing a uniform consistent with the Croatian border police were waiting at a bus station, reported the respondent. Additionally, a police officer in civilian clothes was also inside the bus. He reportedly had recognised the three men as people on the move and called his colleagues. The respondent explained that he and his two companions had to exit the bus and were taken to a nearby police station. Their phones were confiscated and each of them had 200 Euro and 300 Kuna in their pockets, which was also confiscated by the police. They had to sign a document in Arabic and French, which stated that their valuables would be given back to them at the border. Holding this document in front of the chest, photos were taken of each of them. According to the respondent, the whole procedure at the station took around 1.5 hours and even though there were chairs inside the station, they were not allowed to take a seat. Then, the first policeman, who spotted them inside the bus, placed them in a car in front of the police station. The respondent recalled that they had to wait there for the next three hours and when they asked for water, the police refused to give it to them. They had also no access to food and toilet during this time.

After three hours, three officers entered the car, two were described as wearing black uniforms and one civilian clothes. The latter was the driver of the car. The respondent said the driver repeatedly hit the brakes abruptly, causing the three in the back to be thrown forward. He also reported that as they were attached to the car with a rope, hands fixed like in handcuffs, they were not able to balance the movements of the car.

He also remembered that it was very cold in the car.

The respondent further explained that they were driven back to the border in a convoy of 3 police cars: one car in front of them with 5 policemen and a car behind them, also with 5 policemen inside. They arrived at the border at a place in the mountains around 45km from Mostar. The respondent watched the ten policemen getting out of the cars and hiding behind the trees and said that all of them wore black uniforms with the sign „HR‟ (the official code for Croatia/Hrvatska) at the upper arm and black ski masks, covering their faces. The other three police officers let the three men out of the car. The respondent watched them opening the bag with the valuables and putting the phones and money belonging to him and his companions inside their own pockets. According to the respondent, they then said to him and the other two “Go, go, follow this trail!‟ and forced them to pass the 10 other police officers, who were now lined up on the sides of the path: five on each side, 2 meters distance between each of them, their batons in their hands. The three other policemen were also drawing their batons, beating and pushing the three men in the middle of the path. “They wanted to do a quick job: boom boom boom‟, the respondent said. The three men passed the trail, where the 10 policemen beat them with their batons as well. One of the three was hit on the head and began to bleed. The other demanded his phone back, whereupon the police reportedly forced him to take off his jacket and his shoes. After that, the group ran along the path and arrived at a small village, where the citizens called the police to bring them back to Mostar.