“They beat us and we cannot do anything because we are inside the jungle and there is no camera!”

  • Date and time: March 1, 2022 23:00
  • Location: Close to the Bosnian city of Bužim
  • Coordinates: 45.090722487771, 16.130805969238
  • Pushback from: Croatia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 9 person(s), age: 16, 17, 17, 22, 24, 29, 32, 32, 35 years old , from: Mali, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), pushing people to the ground, insulting, gunshots, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 4 men dressed in black with black ski masks and batons, 1 white van without windows, with a blue stripe and the inscription "Policija", 2 drivers with a light blue shirt with the inscription "Policija" on the back and dark blue trousers, 1 male and 1 female officer with light blue shirts with the inscription "Policija" on the back and dark blue trousers
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, denial of food/water
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: Blindspots

Original Report

On Tuesday, the 1st of March 2022, at around 11 pm, a group of nine people from Gambia, Mali, and Guinea-Bissau reports being pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia.

The respondent described that on the 25th of February the group crossed the border into Croatia near the Bosnian town of Bužim. The group walked for five days through Croatia towards Zagreb, they were walking through what they called the  “jungle“.

On the 1st of March at around 8 am, the group was just before Zagreb, the respondent related that they heard gunshots, whereupon the group stopped. Shortly afterward, four persons appeared, whom the respondent described as police officers. The respondent described them as four men dressed in black with black ski masks and batons. This description suggests that they were members of the Croatian intervention police.

The officers told the group to sit down. The respondent described that one of the officers identified one of the group members as the alleged leader of the group, pushed him to the ground, and took his mobile phone. The person tried to resist, whereupon the officer beat the person’s legs with the baton for several minutes.

The respondent described that he told the person to stop resisting because the officer would only stop hitting him when he stopped resisting. Another officer then hit the respondent on the back of the head, was standing on his legs, and beat his legs for several minutes. The respondent described that the officer also called him racist names, but the respondent did not want to repeat the insults.

„They beat us and we cannot do anything because we are inside the jungle and there is no camera!”

In addition, the respondent described that a member of the group told the officers that he was still a minor. An officer then hit him in the back with his baton and stated that this did not matter.

“He said: ‘I am a Minor!’ The police officer replied: ‘It doesn’t matter, this is our country!’”

The respondent described that the officers searched all the persons individually and took the individuals’ mobile phones, money, and power banks. The alleged leader’s mobile phone was searched thoroughly, and all other mobile phones were placed on the ground and got smashed, and then placed in a plastic bag.

The respondent described that one of the officers asked about the origin of the group members. One member replied that they were from Gambia, Mali, and Guinea-Bissau and wanted to ask for asylum in Croatia. The respondent described that the officer replied that there would be no asylum for them because they were black.

The respondent described that the officers called for reinforcements and a short time later a white van without windows, with a blue stripe and the inscription “Policija” arrived. The driver was wearing a light blue shirt with the inscription “Policija” on the back and dark blue trousers. This description suggests that he was a local police officer.

At around 10:30 am, the group was asked to get into the van and had to get out after a 30-minute drive. The respondent described that they were driven to a police station. There, the group was detained in a room without windows for about nine hours. Meanwhile, the group was not given any food.

Around 8 pm, the group was asked to get back into the van. The driver was wearing a light blue shirt with the inscription “Policija” on the back and dark blue trousers. This description suggests that he was a local Croatian police officer. The respondent described that after a two to three-hour drive, the van reached the Bosnian-Croatian border around 11 pm.

The respondent described that there were two officers waiting at the border. The respondent described a man and a woman wearing light blue shirts with the inscription “Policija” on the back and dark blue trousers. This description suggests that they were also part of the Croatian municipality police. The officers asked the group to get out of the van and returned three broken mobile phones to the group. The group then had to cross the border into Bosnia.