“We were very scared, they looked like thieves”

  • Date and time: March 2, 2021 21:00
  • Location: Border crossing near Lohovo
  • Coordinates: 44.73102, 15.916226
  • Pushback from: Croatia, Slovenia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia, Croatia
  • Demographics: 6 person(s), age: 21-23 , from: Afghanistan
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, insulting, electric shock, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving
  • Police involved: 8 Slovenian police officers and one police man in military uniform, two male Croatian police officers and one female police officer in dark blue uniform (granicna policija - border police), 4 Croatian officers in black uniforms with balaclava masks (consistent with interventna policija).
  • Taken to a police station?: unknown
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, personal information taken, papers signed, no translator present, denial of access to toilets, denial of food/water
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: Border Violence Monitoring Network

Original Report

On February 20th, 2021, a group of 6 people on the move left Bosnia, from the Izacic area. According to the respondent, they arrived in Slovenia 8 days later. He claimed that the last three days they walked without food:

“we were very hungry and one of us went to a city but every shop was closed”

At 9 p.m, on 1st March 2021, one of the members of the group went to knock on the door of a house to ask for food, a woman opened the door telling him to wait there. However, she reportedly called the police.

After about 20 minutes, 8 officers – identified by the respondent as Slovenian police – and one other described as “commando” – due to the military style uniform – arrived with three vans. When the police arrived, the group tried to escape on the A1 road, near the town of Prestanek, but the police found them, stopped them and allegedly beat them with hands and feet before transporting them to a police station. The respondent reported that the journey from the point of apprehension to the police station took 30 minutes.

According to the respondent, they were taken to the Policijska postaja ilirska Bistrica, at Vilharjeva cesta 22. Once they arrived there, the police officers reportedly told them that they could apply for asylum.

The respondent states that he asked the police officers several times to be allowed to go to the bathroom, but this request was denied, as well as the request for food. The police then reportedly asked them to undress and hand over money and phones. After a search, the respondent claimed that they only got back their clothes, while their personal belongings were kept by the police. The group spent the night in a small-closed cell, where there was no place to sit. According to the respondent, the next morning, 2nd March 2021, at 06:00 him and his transit group had to sign three different documents:

Document 1: Decision of apprehension: the document underlines that a cultural mediator was present who informed the respondent on the basis of his apprehension – the person is apprehended due to irregular border crossing and that is to be handed to Croatian security forces – and the nature of the document (the respondent claimed that there was not a translator present in the police station).

Document 1: decision of apprehension

  • Document 2: decision that no personal property or documents were taken from the individuals (as the document underlines, the transit group doesn’t have any documents to take, but the respondent claimed that the Slovenian police officers withheld their money and phones).Document 2: decision that no personal property were taken
  • Document 3: 500 euros fine for irregular crossing border.

After signing the documents, the same police officers from the previous day loaded them into a van and took them to the border of Croatia, reportedly, to the checkpoint in Rupa border crossing – Granicni prijelaz Rupa (45.488114,14.278569). It was 10 am and at the border there were 3 officers identified by the respondent as Croatian police – 2 policemen and one policewoman with batons. According to the description of the respondent, it could have been the Granicna policija HR (Croatian Border Police). The respondent claims that he asked urgently asked them to go to the toilet, to which the officer would have replied: “you are not allowed to go to the toilet”. After a few minutes, the Croatian police allegedly told them that they could go to the toilet and ordered them to line up, but instead of allowing them to use the toilet, they gave them electric shocks one by one.

After that, the police ordered the group in transit to get into a van where they would have spent most of the day. Again, having been fasting for five days, the group asked the Croatian police for food, a request which was reportedly denied.

At 5 pm, they left the Slovenian-Croatian border to be transported to the Bosnian border, where they arrived at 9 pm. The respondent states that there were 4 officers in black uniforms and black balaclavas (the uniforms described were consistent with interventna policija) and two white vans at the Bosnian border:

“we were very scared, they looked like thieves. “

The respondent claimed that the Croatian police drove fast and then braked suddenly and that the ventilation inside the car was on and it was very hot. According to him, the whole group vomited on the way. The respondent also reported that, while in the car, the Croatian police said to them:

“You are a terrorist, you are Taliban, why do you come here?”.

At about 9 pm, at the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the area of Lohovo, the 4 police officers told the group to line up and shouted:

“go, go to Bosnia”