Six minors aged between 14 and 17 years old, left from Bosnia-Herzegovina on March 9th into Croatia. Originating from Egypt, it was the first time that this group left from Bosnia to attempt to reach Italy.
After walking four days within the Croatian interior, on the 13rd of March, the group neared the town of Križevci (46°04’32.6″N 16°39’21.8″E HR). The group was walking along a forest path at which point six Croatian officers apprehended them. The respondents described six officers (five males and one female) wearing dark blue uniforms and ski masks. When the officers saw the group in transit walking, they shouted to them “sit down!” and discharged two gunshots in the air.
Afraid, the respondents immediately stopped and sat on the ground. The policewoman called for back-up via her talkie-walkie. While waiting for the other authorities to arrive, the group was violently frisked. The personal belongings of the group were stolen (phones, power-banks, phones) and put into a plastic bag. Their backpacks were emptied by the officers, who put the food inside into a plastic bag and then threw away the backpacks. The group was then forced to undress. Their jackets and jumpers were not returned to them. The minors only spoke Arabic and remarked at how difficult it was to understand what the authorities were saying to them.
After some time, one officially marked police van arrived to pick up the group-members. They were unable to describe the officers inside the police van but recalled experiencing a rough and forceful drive within the van, which was dark, without windows, and had the air conditioning turned on. During the journey, one of the respondents vomited inside the van.
After roughly 30 minutes of driving, the young respondents were driven to a secluded section of the Croatia/Bosnia-Herzegovina border (45°01’42.4″N 16°20’39.5″E HR) near Novi Grad (BiH) where four Croatian officers were standing. Two of them wore dark blue uniforms (one male and one female) and the two others (both male) were dressed in black uniforms and ski-masks.
At the border – as visible in the attached image – the respondents’ mobile phones were destroyed by the authorities and before being given back. The respondents recalled that the officers were laughing at them as they did this.
The group of respondents also described seeing a fire when they arrived at the border. They inferred that some of their belongings that they did not receive back, the plastic bag the officers previously took from them, were burnt in this fire.
The group of respondents was ordered to go out from the van. The authorities shouted at them “Quick, quick, never come back, go back to Bosnia !”. When the group-members began to run, one of the policemen pulled a gun on the group to threaten them to be quicker. After crossing into Bosnia, the group embarked on a long walk back to Velika Kladuša.