Even after claiming asylum in the Italian town of Muggia, this group of Indian men were collectively expelled to Slovenia. From there, they were “chain” pushed back through Croatia into Bosnia-Herzegovina, completing three illegal removals in the space of 48 hours.
On Thursday 11th June 2020, in the central square of Muggia (ITA), a group of five Indian men were stopped by Italian police. The apprehension occured at around 23:00. The authorities, described by the respondents as “army police”, took the five men to a barracks where they carried out an identification and expressed their intent to claim asylum. This was carried out with the assistance of a translator. The groups fingerprints were taken as well as photographs.
The respondent recalls how the, the police shift changed and they spent the night detained in the facility. The following morning (12th June 2020), the respondents were awakened by another shift change, occurring at around 08:00/09:00.The detained transit group received water, biscuits and bread to share among themselves. After that, the police gave a document to each, informing them that they would be removed to Slovenia.
Around 14:00 that same day, the Italian police transported them with two state police cars, in which there were two policemen in each. The group were brought a short distance to the Slovenian border. The Slovenian police took the document previously issued by the Italian police and brought the five men to a facility where they also took their fingerprints and photo. In addition, the Slovenian police officers seized the groups belongings (cell phones, wallets, etc.). Afterwards, at around 16:00/17:00 the group were transported by van away from the facility.
They were taken to an area referred to by the group as the “deportation center”. The group spent the night there with 200 other people who had also been removed back from Italy to Slovenia under similar processes. The following morning (13th June 2020), the Slovenian police took the group back to the same facility/station of the day before, where they gave them back all their belongings except the cellphones. There was no explanation given for this seizure of possessions.
From this original point of detention, the group were then transported in a van which took them to the Croatian border, to a Croatian border police station close to Rijeka (HR). They were stopped there for about 2-3 hours, together with 25 other people, of Afghan and Moroccan origin, who were also taken by the police close to the Croatian-Slovenian border. The group said that the Croatian police were not violent with them but seized the phones of all people of Moroccan origin (the Indian men had none since the Slovenian police had taken them). After a wait lasting about 2-3 hours, the five Indian boys, together with seven other people, therefore a group of about 12 people, were driven by the Croatian police to a stretch of the border near the town of Bužim, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The final pushback across the green border into BiH occured in mid afternoon on 13th June 2020.