“They (the officers) told us to stay on the floor. ”

  • Date and time: July 31, 2022 13:00
  • Location: Near Velika Kladuša (near Smerkovac)
  • Coordinates: 45.169443971307, 15.810471486232
  • Pushback from: Croatia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 8 person(s), age: unknown , from: Congo
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: no violence used
  • Police involved: 5 Croatian officers (dark blue uniforms with 3 or 1 yellow star), 1 with white shirt (intervention police), 1 white van
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention:
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: Blindspots

Original Report

The respondent was a man in his thirties, who was part of a group of 8 persons, 5 men and 3 women. There were all from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The group started from Velika Kladusa. They walked, as the respondent describes, six days: “On a dormir 5 nuits dans les broussailles” (We slept 5 nights in the bushes). According to the respondent, they crossed hill areas but also mountains: “Nous sommes marchés des collins, des collins, des collins” (We crossed hill and hill and hill). There was a violent storm over this part of Croatia at the time. The people were scared that the trees would fall or a lightning strike could hit a tree or themselves. It rained heavily and they were very cold.

According to the respondent they had crossed almost 2/3 of Croatia when they passed through a small town. They were around 40 minutes walk from crossing Highway 23.

Then they were apprehended by 3 Croatian officers in dark blue uniforms. One had three stars on this shoulder and the others one yellow star. “Ils nous ont dit de rester parterre”. (They told us to stay on the floor). The officer with three yellow stars was making a call. He was asking from which country the transit group were coming. The respondent stated that they told him Congo, and begged him to let them continue their route as they wanted to go to Zagreb to ask for asylum. According to the respondent, there was no response. The officer checked their bags, but they didn’t take anything out except the group’s phones. After the calls he made he reportedly told them to get into the police car, which the respondent described as white with bars inside.

According to the respondent, the transit group was then driven back to the border. When they got out of the car, there were two other police officers wearing dark blue uniforms. One reportedly had a stick, and threatened the group with it. The respondent recounted that he asked them why they did that and why they didn’t have mercy, but that they ignored his question. They gave us back their bags and phones, and then reportedly told the group to go and pointed in one direction. The transit group walked in the indicated direction and crossed the border back to Bosnia.