“We just want to live a good life”

  • Date and time: January 5, 2020 21:00
  • Location: near Buhača, Croatia
  • Coordinates: 45.194708, 15.790146
  • Push-back from: Slovenia, Croatia
  • Push-back to: Croatia, Bosnia
  • Demographics: 20, 22, 23, 26, 31 years old person(s), age: 5 , from: Morocco
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), gunshots, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving
  • Police involved: 3 male Slovenian police officers with blue uniforms with the Slovenian emblem on their shoulder and chest, 1 police van, 1 police car; 1 Slovenian female police officer, 2 Slovenian male police officers; (unknown number of) Croatian police officers with blue uniforms; 4 Croatian male police officers; 8 Croatian officers with ski mask and batons
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: fingerprints taken, personal information taken, papers signed, no translator present, denial of food/water
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: Border Violence Monitoring, No Name Kitchen

Original Report

At approximately 09:00 on the 05/01/2020 the group in transit were stopped by three male Slovenian police officers just after crossing the border with Croatia (approximately 45.683068, 14.566864). The group consisted of five men from Morocco aged 20, 22, 23, 26, 31. The officers were wearing blue uniforms with the Slovenian emblem on their shoulder and chest and had one police van, and one police car with them. 

Initially, the respondents tried to escape from police who were shouting at them “stop, stop, stop”. However when the police fired a single gunshot into the air, the group in transit stopped. “I am scared, all the group [is scared]. Police takes a gun, we stop”. The respondent says that police:

“takes me everything, all the clothes, money, phone, backpacks, everything. And food. Everything. Now I don’t have anything”. 

The group in transit were then loaded into a police van which drove them to a police station. The respondent did not know where they went because the police had confiscated their phones and they could not see out of the windows. The drive lasted approximately two hours and the respondent said that it was very erratic. 

At the police station, the group in transit dealt with three police officers, one woman and two men. The group had their fingerprints taken (right index finger) and were asked to disclose personal information like their country of origin and destination. The respondent told the officers, “I go to Italy”. The group were forced to sign documents which they could not understand and no official translator was present. The group in transit saw their request of asylum denied. Speaking of the time spent in the police station, the respondent remembers, “it was cold, we had no shoes”

From the Slovenian police station, the group in transit were driven to Croatia, where the Slovenian and Croatian police met in what the respondent calls “a village”. Police did not tell to the group where they were going nor could the respondents see out of the van. At “the village”, the Slovenian police delivered the group and all of their personal belongings to the Croatian police, who then transferred them to a Croatian police station.

At the station, there were “many police” officers present wearing blue uniforms. The group in transit were again required to disclose their personal information like: full name, country of origin, age and then again were forced to sign documents which they did not understand with no official translator present. “I don’t know this language, maybe language Croatia”, says the respondent. The respondents asked for asylum but were ignored by police, which also denied them access to food and water. “Racist, [they say] no [to the request of asylum]”, says the respondent. The respondent believes the group spent roughly one hour at this location. 

The group in transit was then loaded into a police van the with four male Croatian police officers. The group was driven to the border with Bosnia-Herzegovina (approximately 45.194708,15.790146) and the respondent recalls that the driving was reckless and erratic. After roughly four-five hours of driving, the van arrived at the border at around 20:00 or 21:00. “I was scared” says the respondent.   

The respondent does not remember the exact number of Croatian officers that were waiting at the border but he judges that there were at least 8 of them.

“I don’t know, I was scared, I don’t see anything, kagool [police ski mask], I don’t see, I don’t see”

The respondent said that the Croatian police officers who drove them delivered all of their personal belongings to these officers in waiting, who then set everything on fire. “Croatian police does not give me back my phone, my clothes…”. The officers were waiting for the group in a line, wearing ski masks and had batons. The group in transit had to exit the van and run past the officers while they beating them with batons. “Go, go, go, go to Bosnia”, the officers shouted at the group.

From the border, the group slowly walked back to the city of Velika Kladusa (BiH). The respondent remembers that the journey took a long time due to tiredness and the injuries sustained from the beating. “I am sick in my leg”, says the respondent. Supposedly, the respondents reached the city around 5:00 on the 06/01/2020.

“I want to go to Europe to work, for my family, for a good life for my family. We just want to live a good life”.