“They threw my wife back into the van”

  • Date and time: March 18, 2021 23:00
  • Location: Near Posavska Mahala, Bosnia
  • Coordinates: 45.098818, 18.221767
  • Pushback from: Croatia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 5 person(s), age: 2, 8, 30-40 years old , from: Kurdish Nationality
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: destruction of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 10 to 15 Croatian police (he referred to them as commandos) in blue outfits with shoulder patch on sleeve, with one police dog.
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: photos taken, personal information taken
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: Collective Aid

Original Report

On March 18, a husband, wife, and their two children (aged 2 and 8), along with another woman, all Kurdish, crossed from near Posavska Mahala, Bosnia, into Croatia by van. At an undetermined amount of time into Croatian territory and around 23:00, they were confronted near a body of water by 10 to 15 Croatian police officers dressed in blue uniforms with police badges and carrying batons and pistols. The officers had arrived in 3 police cars and brought a police dog with them. 


The police officers took photos and recorded the names of everyone in the group. Officers then took the group’s bags and phones and damaged the charging ports of all of the phones before returning them to the family. All of the bags were placed in a nearby makeshift fire pit and burnt in front of the transit group. At this point, the wife requested to be taken to a Croatian refugee camp, but was told by the officers that no refugee camps exist in Croatia. They did not request asylum at any point during these interactions, and the transit group was not brought to a police station.


The Croatian officers drove the group back to the Bosnian border in the back of a police van. It is unclear what happened to the vehicle that the group was initially traveling in. During the drive back towards the Bosnian border, the wife fainted. The transit group started knocking on the side of the van to catch the attention of the police and get them to stop. After a few minutes, the police officers stopped the van and checked on the group. The group tried to explain the woman’s situation to the officers, urging the officers to call an ambulance. They were told that an ambulance would be called. After 45 minutes, another Croation police car showed up to the location. The police officer got out of the car and opened the back of the van, asking why they were called to respond to the situation. The group explained the medical situation to the newly arrived police officer. This officer then physically grabbed the wife out of the van and continuously shook her, trying to wake her up. While the wife was in and out of consciousness, she was thrown back into the van where the rest of the group sat waiting. The driver of the van then continued on their journey back to Bosnia. The woman did not receive any medical attention during the rest of the journey, other than members of the transit group attempting to help her without any medical equipment.They continued to ride in the back of the van until they were dropped off in Bosnian territory around 02:00 on March 19th, and eventually they made their way back to Sarajevo.