“Welcome to Serbia”

  • Date and time: July 23, 2019 22:00
  • Location: Train station in Frankovci, Slovenia
  • Coordinates: 46.394815, 16.194735
  • Push-back from: Slovenia, Croatia
  • Push-back to: Croatia, Serbia
  • Demographics: 2 person(s), age: 24, 26 , from: Morocco, Algeria
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: forcing to undress
  • Police involved: 11 Slovenian Police Officers, 1 Slovenian Officer in Military Uniform, 10 Croatian Police Officers (4 Border, 5 Regular, 1 Plain clothes)
  • 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, forced to pay fee
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: Border Violence Monitoring, Balkan Info Van

Original Report

The group of two persons in transit had been travelling for many days on foot when they were eventually apprehended by Slovenian police on 23rd July 2019 in the village of Frankovci, Slovenia. The two young men, from Algeria and Morocco, were stopped by two Slovenian police officers at approximately 23:30 in the evening as they walked on a darkened road by the train station in the village of Frankovci (46.394815, 16.194735).

The two male officers approached them asking them to stop, and were quickly joined by a further two male police officers and one female dressed in what the respondent described as camouflage or military uniform. The police were present on the scene with two official marked vehicles, a Dacia Duster and Renault Traffic. The four male officers and accompanying female, described by the respondent as possibly from the military, detained the transit group on the spot, at which point the two group members each made a verbal request for asylum in Slovenia.

The police officers replied, telling the group members that they shouldn’t be concerned and that they would be taken to Ljubjiana to make their asylum application.Two officers escorted them to the Renault Traffic and loaded them into the rear area. They were driven for approximately 15 minutes, at which point the vehicle stopped and transit group were brought out at coordinates 46.409638, 16.149378, location of Ormož police station (see Figure 1).

 

(Figure 1: Policijska Postaja Ormož where the group were detained (Dobravska ulica 5a, 2270 Ormož, Slovenia))

The respondent describes how the Slovenian police officers who had been present at the site of apprehension immediately changed their narrative once in the station. Having previously stated that they intended to transport the transit group to the capital Ljubljana, the police officers quickly reverted to racist verbal abuse and told the two men in transit that they could not claim asylum.

“[the police told them] ‘don’t worry I will give you in Ljubljana’… in the police station change… ‘go fuck of to Morocco… go fuck yourself, go to Algeria'”

The two group members were then processed by the Slovenian officers in the station who took their names, fingerprints and photographs. The group members were also forced to strip down to their underwear in order for the police to search them.

While communicating with the police, a female Arabic translator was present and the respondent asserts that throughout the process their requests and statements were intentionally mistranslated. The translator insisted they were obliged to sign removal documents which the respondents companion described as “forced deportation”.

The respondent was also forced to pay a fine of 500 euro to the Slovenian police issued as a fixed penalty for their irregular crossing of the Croatian-Slovenian border. A receipt was provided for this payment (see Figure 2 and 3), but no paperwork was given to the respondent in regards to deportation.Translation of the second document (Figure 2) provided to the respondent cites the fine as punishment for illegal border crossing vis a vis article 145 of the Aliens act.

(Figure 2: Penalty fine of 500 euros issued by the Slovenian Police at Ormož police station to the respondent)
(Figure 2: Overleaf of penalty fine document issued to respondent in Ormož police station by the Slovenian police)

The second document (Figure 2) also states that;

“The procedure was conducted in a language he understands – mother tongue”

This, in spite of the respondents assertion that the translator present  was intentionally mistranslating his statements while at the station, and omitting information.

After the processing, the police officers placed the men in seperate cells for the duration of the night. The respondent describes how the Slovenian police did not offer him anything to drink or eat, and he had to rely on what little water he had left from his backpack.

At approximately 12:00 the following day (24th July 2019), the two group members were brought from their cells and taken by police van to a small border crossing point between Slovenia and Croatia. They were handed to Croatian border officials, dressed in sky blue shirts. The respondent recalls seeing the gold emblem on the sleeve of the police officers shirt, concurrent with the uniform of the Croatian Granična Policija (border police). The transit group were loaded by the officers into a small marked van and driven to the a nearby police station in Varazdin, Croatia.

The respondent described how he saw two Croatian police officers waiting outside the station, and a further five inside, of whom one was dressed in plain clothes (civilian attire). The officers took the transit groups names and their photographs. Neither the respondent nor his friend asked for asylum in Croatia, describing how:

“Croatia just deportation”

At approximately 14:00 the transit group were taken by two Croatian officers from the station in Varazdin and driven in a marked Croatian police van. The journey lasted approximately four hours and they were removed at the police station in Tovarnik, Croatia (45.164101, 19.154694). There, the men waited some minutes in the car park while the officers transferred them to a vehicle from the local police, and then they were driven for a very short ride (described as approximately 1 minute by the respondent) towards the border with Serbia. Two Croatian officers unloaded them from the van and ordered them to walk back into Serbia. There were no Serbian police present at the border, and the transit group returned on foot, entering Serbian territory at approximately 18:00.

The respondents friend described their exasperation at being returned to Serbia after such an arduous journey. Further, once back in Serbia the two group members felt forced to seek improvised shelter because of the unsafe conditions in the nearest official refugee camp, Principovac. The men stated that the director of the the camp and the security regularly beat the residents of the camp and that an electric stick was used by the Commissariat as a means to inflict pain. The respondent also spoke of the withdrawal of food and the general lack of basic amenities which now forced them to sleep rough in abandoned buildings after their pushback from Slovenia and Croatia. The respondents companion summed this up, stating:

“Welcome to Serbia”