On the 16th of July a group of 20 Afghan males, aged 16 to 22, were apprehended inside a truck while attempting to cross into Croatia from Serbia at the Bajakovo-Batrovci border crossing along the E70 highway. The primary respondents for this report were 3 males from Afghanistan aged 17 to 22. The respondents recalled that the group had been hiding inside the truck for two nights before this. The group had hidden inside the truck and, on the 16th, passed through the security checkpoint on the Serbian side and upon their arrival to the truck scanner on the Croatian side were apprehended by Croatian authorities who forced them out of the truck.
The officers were described as wearing blue and black uniforms and face masks, consistent with those worn by Croatian authorities who secure the state’s borders. They handcuffed everyone and then hit all group members with fists and with batons during this initial exchange. One group member had marks on his back (pictured) from the beating. They asked how many people there were and kicked one group member.
The police also smashed the phones with their feet and broke their powerbanks. The group were denied access to food, water and the toilet for around two hours, from 12:00 am to 2:00 am, as they were detained in the border station. The 22-year-old respondent recalled that he did no want to speak English with the police because he was afraid that they would assume he was the ‘boss’ of the group and detain him further. Eventually, the Croatia authorities called the Serbian authorities and transferred them over to their custody. The Serbian officers told the group to go to the nearby state-run camp but released them without further harassment. The group then returned back to their informal living arrangement in the forested areas outside of Šid.