“The police beat me with gun on my head because I run twice”

  • Date and time: July 26, 2019 16:00
  • Location: 13km from Velika Kladuša , near Crni Potok, Croatia
  • Coordinates: 45.2260786, 15.9017159
  • Push-back from: Croatia
  • Push-back to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 85 person(s), age: 23, 16-40 , from: Pakistan
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, pushing people to the ground, exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, insulting, threatening with guns, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 2 Croatian police vans, 3 Croatian police cars, 9 regular Croatian police officers
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, fingerprints taken, photos taken, personal information taken, no translator present, denial of access to toilets, denial of food/water
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: Border Violence Monitoring

Original Report

A group of 85 Pakistani men and minors – aged 16 to 40 –  travelled together through the forest in Croatia in the lead up to this incident. The respondent – a 23 year old man from Pakistan – shared that early in the morning of July 26th the large group began to split into smaller sections in order not to be detected. However, during this process one of the smaller groups observed a police car which also spotted the group. Then, two more police cars arrived on the scene.

The respondent began running in the forest. One police man spotted him in the “jungle” (wooded terrain) from about five to ten meters away, then runs back to the police car. The police then follow in a police car down a small road which the respondent was running across.

The respondent ran with many people from his group and while they ran, someone accidentally knocked the respondent’s glasses off. Without his glasses, he was not able to see so the respondent returned to find his glasses. When he found his glasses, a police officer caught him and put a gun to his neck to threaten him. The police officer pushed him to the ground then kicked him twice in the shoulders. The police officer was male, wearing “jeans” and a black shirt. The respondent describes him as a “civil police officer.”

This police officer then told him to return to the road. The respondent followed the officer’s directions but then when he reached the road, the respondent attempted to run once again into the forest. He came upon a house where two people gave him food, water and 100 Kuna (Croatian currency). The respondent stayed in the house for 10 minutes, but the people told him to run because they said the police are everywhere in this area. The respondent then stopped a family in a car and asked to use their GPS to find the direction to Slovenia and the family offered to drive him to the Slovenian border. However, while talking to this family, the police apprehend him in a car. The police put him in a police van, which promptly arrived after the first car. In this van, there were ten people from the respondents original group. The apprehension occured at approximately 07:00. The Croatian police, however, told him to get out of the van because they recognized him from his glasses as the person who ran from the police twice. They asked him why he ran two times and then they ordered him to sit on the side of the road, where one police officer beat him with a baton on his hands, kicked him on his back and shoulders, and hit him on the head with the butt of a gun. The officer then took the respondents shoes and put them in a plastic bag and put the respondent back in a van.

The police drove 15 minutes to a police station, where they arrive at approximately 08:00. At the police station, the police gave the respondent a sheet of paper in Urdu that asked him to fill out his name, his family’s name and his nationality. They took his fingerprints and a photo, but they do not make him sign anything. He was then put in a windowless room with 11 other people and one camera. They were in this room for about three hours and originally, they were denied food, water and access to a toilet but gradually, the police gave them small amounts of water and hard, stale bread and biscuits.

The respondent asked for asylum but the police told him “no”. Two minors also asked for asylum in the police station. They told the police they were minors and do not want to go back to Bosnia. The police respond by saying “no, you go back to Bosnia.” The group were not beaten inside the police station.

The respondent was then put in a van with eight other people. There was also another van full of 10 people that were caught. The police kept them in the van for 20 minutes without turning on the engine and was van is very hot and had no fan. Then, the police drove the van for about three hours until they reach the border with Bosnia, approximately 13km from Velika Kladuša.

The transit group were pushed back at around 16:00. The police opened the van doors and told one person to come out. When this person came out, they took his phone and smashed, it then hand it back to him. Then, they hit him once with a baton but the respondent states this was not a very forceful blow. The police officers took all the powerbanks from the group. Then everyone else exited the van, but the last to exit were not beaten. These group members were just told to go across the border into Bosnia, which they did. They then walked all the way to Velika Kladuša  and when they were not able to find a taxi or bus, they walk all the way back to Bihać.