“The men witnessed from the forest how the officers put both of the houses on fire”

  • Date and time: March 15, 2018 11:00
  • Location: close to the Serbian-Hungarian border, Serbia
  • Coordinates: 46.10973646837401, 19.563216788085924
  • Push-back from: No push back
  • Push-back to: No push back
  • Demographics: 22 person(s), age: unknown , from: Pakistan
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, destruction of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 1st case: 2 Serbian border police officers (male, in Serbian border police uniforms) with two “jeeps” / 2nd case: 2 local police officers (male, local police uniforms), later to 2 Serbian border police officers joined (male, Serbian border police uniforms), not the same officers than in the first case
  • Taken to a police station?: unknown
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: Rigardu

    Original Report

    In March 2018 there were two incident involving Serbian police officers and groups of people on the move, who were staying in an abandoned houses close to the Serbian-Hungarian border. During this incident 22 men were staying at an abandoned house in this area, mostly from Pakistan, including 4 minors. The men state that they have previously experienced violations from Serbian police in this location. These previous incident where reported on Saturday 20th – Monday 22nd. of January 2018. The group state that they are confident that the police officers involved in the previous incidents are the same as in this incidents.

    On Thursday March 15th. 2018, at about 11am., 2 Serbian border police officers in uniform arrived in two jeeps at the place. The officers entered one of the houses, and the men inside stood up. The officers started to beat the men with sticks and were kicking them. The officers claimed that they were officers from the closed camp in Presevo, near the Serbian-Macedonian border, coming to deport the men to Macedonia. And ordered the men to pack up their stuff, leave the place and walk to the closest city center in order to be deported there. The men believed what the officers said, so they packed their bags and left the place, started to walk towards the forest, and the officers left also.

    But the men weren’t yet too far away, and observed when the officers returned with one jeep, looking for the men at the place and noticed that the men had done as they ordered. Then, the men witnessed from the forest how the officers set both of the houses on fire. After that the officers left again, and the men returned from the forest to see the place where they had been staying burn. The men tried to save what they could from the buildings, such as collected blankets, but were interrupted when the same officers returned again with two jeeps, noticing that the men had returned. The officers ordered the men to leave the place and to go to the forest to hide there. The men obeyed, and the officers stayed at the place. Apparently, the police officers had called for firefighters, because after about 10-15 minutes (at this time the houses have been burning for about 40-45 minutes in total) some firefighters arrived, with two fire trucks and started to get control of the fire. The men tried to return to the field around the houses.

    The police didn’t let them come closer and also didn’t want the men to talk with the firefighters. In order to stop the men, the officers violently assaulted them  again. Hitting them with stick and kicking them. After about 30-40 minutes the fire was extinguished, the firefighters and the police officers left and the men returned to see the damage. Both of the houses were almost completely destroyed, as well as all items inside the house. Some of the men, that stayed at the place during the incident, had managed to save their personal items and also collected some bigger necessities, but others lost everything they had left inside the houses, including money and mobile phones.

    Next day, on Friday March 16th. 2018 the owner of the land and houses arrived at the place with 2 Subotica local police officers, to see the burnt buildings and asked the migrants about the incident. The men told them what they had observed, and the police officers called for 2 Serbian border police officers to join them in investigating the accusations of the men. The officers weren’t the same as the day before, and the men explained this to the local police officers. The officers did not pay further attention to the accusations of the men, nor did they investigate the mistreatment from the perpetrators. The officers ordered the men to leave the place, go to the closest city and register themselves to an asylum camp. However, the owner said that the men can stay at the place, and he would repair the houses in summer because of the fire. After the conversation the officers and the owner left the place.