“When you have good phone and money they take, when you don't they beat you”

  • Date and time: July 25, 2019 06:30
  • Location: Kelebia, Hungary
  • Coordinates: 46.19002362475978, 19.614124691388042
  • Push-back from: Hungary
  • Push-back to: Serbia
  • Demographics: 10 person(s), age: 11-24 years old , from: Afghanistan
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 20+ Hungarian Police, 3 small police vans
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention:
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: Border Violence Monitoring, Balkan Info Van

Original Report

The group of ten people described in this report began their journey from Subotica, Serbia at 4:00AM on July 25, 2019. The transit group consisted of five adults and five minors, the youngest aged 11 years old. All of the group were male and came from Afghanistan.

The transit group left in the early hours of the morning and traveled towards the Hungarian border. At approximately 6:30AM the train they had boarded came to a halt. Being on the underside of the carriages the transit group were unable to see what was happening, but the respondent shared that he believed happened,

“when the train arrives at scanner, they (the Hungarian Police) check the whole train”.

After a few minutes the group members heard footsteps and saw the legs of people walking next to their carriage. An extendable mirror was used underneath the train in order to detect the their presence, and they heard the people outside conversing in what they believed was Hungarian language. The transit group was ordered out, and emerged from under the train to see eight Hungarian Police officers dressed in black. The police stood next to the tracks which ran between the platforms of the station. The officers were arranged in groups of two, each pair spaced an equal distance from the others, forming the four points of a square. The transit group were ordered out into the middle of this square.

The group were ordered to lie down on the ground, in what the respondent described as a “sleeping” position. The officers then proceeded to frisk each individual, patting down their whole body and removing personal belongings such as money and phones. Those with inexpensive phones had their mobiles broken by hand, those with more expensive devices had them taken by the Hungarian police along with the money.

After the body search, the Hungarian police began to beat the group one by one. Four of the officers surrounded each individual and used a telescopic baton to hit them, along with punching and kicking their heads, arms and torso. During the assault, the respondent described how he curled up into a ball to protect himself, but from this crouched position the officers then drove their knees into his body.

According to the respondent, he believed that the ferocity of the beatings were delivered proportionately to the level of valuables the police were able to extract from each individual, and the number of attempts they had made to cross into Hungary. The respondent described how:

“When you have good phone and money they take, when you don’t they beat you”.

“When come back for two (second border crossing), more beating”.

No-one in the transit group made an attempt to ask for asylum, the respondent suggested that this would only lead to further physical assault by the Hungarian Police. When the attack had finished, the group waited a further 20 minutes on the ground, surrounded by the eight officers. Three small police vans then arrived, carrying more Hungarian police officers dressed in black. The respondent asserted there were a minimum of 20 police officers present on the scene, including the original eight who had apprehended the group.

The police marched them across the tracks to the back of one of the vans, and pushed all ten of the group members into the rear cargo area. The respondent described the cramped conditions in the back of the van and how they were forced to crouch in order to fit in.

The driver drove the van for approximately five minutes, at which point he parked it and two police officers from the site of apprehension opened the back doors to unload the group. The group members were brought out of the van at approximately 9:00AM.

Two Hungarian Police officers held batons and as the group members climbed out of the van, the officers struck them at least once and pushed them out towards the border fence by which the van was parked. There was a guarded opening in the fence described by the respondent as a “door”. The transit group were ordered to walk through this onto Serbian territory. The respondent described seeing one man dressed in what he described as a “yellow security” uniform on the Serbian side of the gate who observed the expulsion of the ten group members.

The group then made the four hour walk back to their departure point of Subotica, arriving at approximately 1:00PM on the same day. The respondent described how they had pain in their bodies for several hours induced by the blows they had received from police batons, punching, kicking and use of the knee. The respondent stated that the youngest member of the group, aged 11, had continued pain in his wrist because of the assault inflicted on him.