“they beat me in the head”

  • Date and time: January 9, 2020 00:00
  • Location: close to Poljana (BiH)
  • Coordinates: 45.22360115670229, 15.927220062753523
  • Push-back from: Slovenia, Croatia
  • Push-back to: Croatia, Bosnia
  • Demographics: 22 person(s), age: 20 - 43 , from: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), forcing to undress, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 2 Slovenian officers in dark uniforms, undisclosed number in police station, 7 Croatian officers in black uniforms, undisclosed number in police station
  • 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, Balkan Info Van

Original Report

On the 8th January 2020, a transit group of six Afghani men were walking in woodland in southern Slovenia. The respondent suggests that a member of the public observed the six people close to a village and called the police. The location was suggested to be approximately 100km from the capital Ljubljana, but the respondents phone was taken during the incident so he was unsure of the exact place.

It was around midday when two authorities dressed in what the respondent described as “uniform police Slovenia” arrived with a car. The uniforms were described as a dark black colour. The two officers stopped the group and ordered them to remove their bags. The officers asked if they had knives or sharp objects in the their possession and searched all six men.

At the site of apprehension the officers asked the transit group:

“From which side you came? Where do you come from?”

The six were transported by a police vehicle to a station nearby. The transit group were then removed from the vehicle and held inside the station, where further police officers questioned and processed them. The officers asked them further questions:

“Do you have any documents?”

“How did you come to Slovenia?”

How many people are in your group?”

The questioning was conducted in a room where officers also asked the group to sign paperwork with their personal information (“personal quiz”). The respondent was not however given enough time to read the documents being signed, and therefore did not understand what it said. He stated:

“they didn’t give me a chance to know information”

There was no translation available while at the station. The officers also fingerprinted the group. Then they were led into a cell and detained for what the respondent suggests was approximately 12 hours.

The respondent describes how during this time he was feeling very sick, but did not receive any support.

“time at night in rain, my condition was really cold and I had fever”

“[During the journey] I drank dirty water, I have diarrhea and vomiting, they didn’t give you tablets”

The respondent states that in the early hours of 9th January 2020, the Slovenian police loaded the transit group of six into a van and drove them a short distance to the border with Croatia. At the border the group were received by Croatian officers and driven to a police station in Croatia described as “jail”.

Describing the transit groups treatment during detention in the police station in Croatia the respondent said:

“They didn’t give you water or food to eat”

The respondent describes being held in a cell in this police station for approximately three hours. After which, the group of six Afghani men were loaded into a Croatian police van. The van also had another 16 passengers detained in the back. These people were from another transit group and the respondent describes how they included both Pakistani and Syrian males (all over 18 years old).

The group were driven for around  two hours and the respondent says the journey included lots of swerving by the driver which induced sickness in the detained passengers. The respondent had fever during his detention in the police stations (HR/SLO) and became very sick in the back of the van. Several other people in the back also began throwing up:

“they are vomiting in that car”

The van stopped and the combined transit group of 22 people were unloaded at a remote spot on the border with Bosnia-Herzegovina. They were ordered to remove their clothes and shoes which were then confiscated. The respondent describes the darkness (it was early hours of 9th January 2020) and seeing seven Croatian police officers dressed in black uniforms. Describing how the officers had arranged themselves at the back doors of the van the respondent said:

“They stood both sides”

The respondent describes seeing a large stone (likely to have been a border marker). The police beckoned the transit group “one by one” and then attacked them with batons and fists, making a corridor effect between themselves and the stone marker. Referring to the assault on his body the respondent said:

“they beat me in the head, I can’t… then everything after that, [my] arms and hands”

The respondent says that for ten minutes after this attack his head was weak and he remained very dizzy. The police ordered the group to “go and run”. They were forced back into BiH via a small river which the respondent said reached up to his shins, soaking their legs.