“Group of 23 people caught by Italian Army”

  • Date and time: July 21, 2020 18:00
  • Location: Fernetti, Italy
  • Coordinates: 45.700470555072, 13.831441428311
  • Push-back from: Italy
  • Push-back to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 23 (10 were PB) person(s), age: > 18 , from: Pakistan
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: no violence used, beating (with batons/hands/other), gunshots, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 3 italian army officers + 4 cars police (at italian border)
  • 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, denial of food/water
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: Independent person

Original Report

The two respondents, both from Pakistan, left the Bosnian city of Bihać on the 5th of July in the hopes of continuing through Croatia and Slovenia on towards Italy. They stated that they arrived in Trieste on the 20th of July. They were in a group of 23 people, included 3 persons underage and “3 sick people”.

The respondents stated they entered Italy from Slovenian near the SP16 road outside of the border village of Muggia at around 1:00 am on the 20th of July but they were immediately stopped by Italian army forces – consisting of one jeep and four army officers – near the railway overpass of Santa Barbara (Muggia).
These authorities were likely part of the Operazione Strade Sicure deployment to the border area. The respondent described that shortly after being apprehended,  four police cars and an number officers wearing blue uniforms arrived to the scene.

The group was then taken to the “Fernetti tent” by these officers [45.699954, 13.830690] where they spent all day long. The respondents described that they had their fingerprints (10 fingers) and a handprint recorded here. One doctor arrived to check the temperature how prevention measures about COVID-19. The respondents stated that one guy of the group was vomiting and other 2 persons had “knee problems” so these persons had the permission to stay in Italy. Two translators were reportedly present that explained the documents that the group had to sign (“10bis” illegal entrance in Italy and asylum seekers request).
Their mobile phones were taken by the police but they were allowed talked to each other. The respondents stated that Italian authorities neither Italian army did not use physical violence in their interactions however food was provided to the group only once in 24 hours.

The army tent in Fernetti where the group was brought by the officers to be processed

The original group were composed 23 people: the 3 underages, the 3 “sick people” and others 7 people were allowed to start the procedure to asylum seekers and stayed in Italy but for the rest of the group not.

Around 6:00 pm, the rest were taken in a van and brought to Slovenia where Slovenian police officers took the group. The remaining group was not explained what happened and why some people were allowed stay in Italy and the rest not.

The remaining ten people then spent 3 hours in Slovenian police station, detained inside a closed room. Here, they again had their fingerprints taken again before they were brought to the “deportation center” of Veliko Otok in Postojna [45.784967, 14.194817] were they spent one week (in a single room). They were provided food and hygiene services but not given any clean clothes.

After one week they were transferred to the second floor of the complex: one room for approximately four people, in total there were 25 people for the same block. They spent five days there. They stated no physical violence were used.

After five days, they were communicated that they would be transferred to an open camp in Ljubljana but actually they were forced to sign a paper that turned out to be an expulsion document. This group and an additional 10 people were all brought to Croatian border of Obrezje (45.847949, 15.691544). The Croatian police took the group – in total 20 people – and detained them in a building near the border where they spent between 18 and 20 hours without food. They had access to some water during this time.

Eventually, they were brought back to Bosnian border where Croatian police officers took the t-shirts, shoes, phones and money of the group. The officers – ten in total – wore black clothes and balaclava masks and beat the guys with batons, discharge their firearms in the air and left the group near to the border in the greater Velika Kladuša area. On date of 5th of August the guys arrived back in Velika Kladuša.