The group had only just arrived in Italy – to what they thought was safety – when Italian authorities took them, detained them, and set off a chain expulsion which would eventually land the men back in Bosnia-Herzegovina from where they had first left.
On 25th May 2020 at around 05.00 they were apprehended in Draga Sant’Elia (Italy), having arrived after a long journey from Bosnia-Herzegovina. The people in transit, of Pakistani origin, had left in hope of safe passage to Italy as a group of 42 people, including two unaccompanied minors.
Fourteen of the new arrivals (including the three interviewees who provided this report) were taken from the Draga Sant’Elia area, by three Italian officers and transferred to a closed tent site. In this place, the group of 14 were fingerprinted and given the indication they would be able to pursue an asylum claim in Italy.
During their stay they were issued a paper document which they had to sign. The document was from the State Police (Trieste border police sector), and is the “report of identification, election/declaration of domicile and appointment of the defender made by person under investigation.”
At around 15:00 on the same day the group of 14 were removed by van and brought to the Slovenian border. There they were handed over to Slovenian officials and taken to a police station. The people in transit were held for 24 hours in the Slovenian police station, where they were also fingerprinted.
Afterwards, on the afternoon of the 26th May 2020, the group were removed and handed over to the Croatian police at a BCP on the HR-SLO border. The group were detained for a further two hours by Croatian police. After this they were driven to a stretch of the green border with Bosnia-Herzegovina (close to the town of Velika Kladusa) and ordered back across. Once back in Bosnia, the three travelled back to Bihac and were hosted in the TRC Bira.