“A man couldn't swim, so they held his head under water”

  • Date and time: July 29, 2020 14:00
  • Location: Loznica, Serbia
  • Coordinates: 44.54321514623138, 19.198526553906266
  • Pushback from: Bosnia
  • Pushback to: Serbia
  • Demographics: 3 person(s), age: 19-20 years old , from: Afghanistan
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: water immersion, destruction of personal belongings
  • Police involved: Unknown number of Bosnian officers
  • 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: No Name Kitchen

Original Report

On July 29 three young, Afghan men (aged 19-20) crossed over the Drina river separating Serbia from Bosnia-Herzegovina. The men had set out from the Serbian city of Loznica with the intention of continuing their journey through Bosnia. In the course of this attempt, they were apprehended by Bosnian authorities in the afternoon of July 29th, at about 2:00 pm, and violently pushed back.

Before being apprehended, they had walked about four hours into the interior of Bosnia, primarily through forested areas – they were unaware of the precise location. They had asked some locals for the way to Sarajevo. Shortly after this, Bosnian authorities dressed wearing black shirts and pants with emblazoned with a blue and yellow striped shield with a black sword on their shoulders (this is the emblem of Granična Policija: BiH – the Bosnian Border Police). The officers arrived, stopped the group, and loaded them into their vehicle which drove them back to the border. The young male respondent estimated that they drove 10 to 20km.

Grb Granične Policije BiH

The described emblem emblazoned on the uniforms of the apprehending authorities in BiH

Upon arriving at the river border, the officers waited until no one was in sight on either side of the border and then threw the men’s possessions in the river, this included their money, mobile phones and power banks. The officers then pushed the men into the river and told them to swim back to the other side.

During this time, one of the group-member’s head was held under water, when he did not swim as commanded. He could not swim but moved toward the center of the river. A boat came by and saved him.

The man making this report swam to the center of the river and said he could not keep going and turned around. The Bosnian police then threatened him with their batons. His second friend helped him cross back into Serbia.