On the 23rd July 2021 in the morning, the respondent 21 years old and two other men, 21 and 26 years old, all Afghan nationals, were detected hiding inside a truck at the Slovenian border crossing of Gruškovje (46°16’44.2″N 15°51’56.8″E). Eight officers wearing blue uniforms (two women and three men) were present at the scanner checking point. The Slovenian officers checked their bodies and bags, then they confiscated the bags, the money, phones and powerbanks. The respondent described that he and his companions had their fingerprints and pictures taken and they were asked to sign some documents in Slovenian.
They asked to stay in Slovenia and they were replied that this was not possible because of the way the entered (by truck).
«Only if you came walking staying is available for you, they said». The respondent repeats what the officers had told him:
«This is one of the rules of Slovenia, if you are caught in border you cannot stay, but if you are caught inside Slovenia, they give you the possibility to stay».
After around one hour, the Slovenian officers called the Croatian police and subsequently two Croatian police officers identified by the respondent as municipality police arrived in a patrol car, they received the possessions confiscated from the Slovenian officers and subsequently drove the respondent and his companions to the official toll-police station (Naplatna postaja Trakošćan, E59, Gornji Macelj).
There, they were asked to sign a document translated into Pastho and they were explained they would be brought to Bosnia. As a consequence, the respondent expressed his opposition to the decision to be moved to Bosnia multiple times.
«Three times I asked to Croatian police to be deported to Serbia. They beat me and said “no Serbia, Bosnia”. I was the one beaten the most because I was the only one speaking English».
The respondent explained that normally, in previous pushbacks, he avoided to talk to police officers in English to avoid the impression that he could be the leader (or a smuggler) of the group.
«You can’t speak English with police because, if you do, they think you are the boss of these boys and they beat you as much as they can. In front of police you have to be silent.».
The respondent described how he was beaten by the Croatian officers with the baton and kicked, and how he was told to sit and stand in silence. «You sit here, don’t talk to me»
The respondent and his two companions remained at the police station for around 5/6 hours, waiting for the arrival of another group of people-on-the-move apprehended by Croatian officers in the outskirts of Zagreb. Neither food nor water was provided during their waiting time. As soon as the police van arrived at the station, with two people on board, the new group of now five men started the drive to Velika Kladuša, BiH.
When they were close to the border the officers stopped the car and the respondent and his companions were turned under the supervision of a police unit identified as Croatian Intervention Police. The respondent recalled them wearing black uniforms, ski masks, large black leather boots and being armed with rifles (M4 type). The respondent’s and his companion’s belongings and papers were handed over from the city officers to the border officers.
Then, the respondent and their companions all underwent the same procedure but individually: First, they were forced to lay on the ground, facing the soil and were then beaten by the four officers simultaneously. According to the respondent, the officers also lit a fire in which they burned their bags. After this treatment, they were chased away one by one («Go to Bosnia!»). The officers did not return them their mobiles, their powerbanks and their money (180 euro in total).
From the green border where they had been left (no precise location could be given, as they did not have their mobile phones anymore and thus could not locate themselves anymore) they made a 3 hour walk to Velika Kladuša, BiH. They went to the bus station and asked for a ticket to Bihać, from where they wanted to reach Sarajevo to then go back to Serbia. They were refused: «I offered him twice the money of the price of a ticket and I said “why you don’t want to sell me the ticket?”. He said: “No ticket for you.»
Thus, the respondent and his companions had to reach Bihać on foot, which took them nearly 3 days. After that they reached Sarajevo with public transportation, and then Zvornik, at the border crossing of BiH with Serbia. Only with luck they managed to cross this border and enter back into Serbia, where they had started their journey several days before.
«There you have to run, because Serbian Police is very dangerous. Two people that were with me got caught, beaten very badly. They had to go to the hospital».