On March 2nd, a group of two 25-year-old men originally from Morocco left Mostar (BiH) on foot with the intention of reaching Gradac (HR).
After leaving, they two described being stopped near Ljubuški (BiH) (43.19046, 17.540555) at around 8:00 pm by two officers wearing dark blue uniforms with the word “Policija” on the back and a Croatian flag insignia on the arm. Those officers asked the respondents where they were coming from, where they planned to go, and searched their backpacks. After this, the officers called for back-up, according to the respondents, to bring them back to Mostar (BiH).
After around 15 minutes later, another officer arrived, driving a non-official blue van. He was described as wearing a black uniform with a Croatian flag insignia on the arm. He put on a ski-mask when he got out of the vehicle. This officer explained to the respondents that he would bring them 10 km away to Ljubuški (BiH), then he ordered them to go into the van.
When the van stopped, the driver shouted to the respondents not to move and he frisked them inside the van. The respondents inferred that this officer was only searching for money because when he found it, he stopped the frisking. Indeed, he found 100€ in one of the respondents’ pockets. The officer pocketed the money and, after harrassing and shoving the other respondent – asking him for more money – he took them out of the van and drove off.
The two respondents continued their way in spite of the theft and engaged in another transit attempt several days later. They were near Buzet (HR) (approximate coordinates 45°24’38.2″N 14°03’10.4″E) on the 4th of March. The men described waiting for a bus in a small village at around 3:00 pm at which point two civil policemen (a male and female) asked the respondents for their identification papers. As they did not have any, they were brought to the Buzet police station in a civil car. There, the two friends were split and put in a room with one officer (clad in blue uniform) in each. During the procedures at the police office, the respondents had to converse with the officers without the presence of a translator. At the station, they were forced to undress to their underwear, and were frisked. The respondents inferred that the officers were searching for more money because the only belongings they took were 10 Bosnian marks. After this, the respondents were brought to another room where pictures of their faces were taken while they were carrying a paper on which their personal information (such as names and surnames, ages, nationalities, and addresses) were written.
The respondents expressed to the officers an intention to claim asylum :
“I have my fingerprints in Slunj [HR], I know you can make asylum, I am searching for that. The policemen gave me this paper and said me : ‘Next time, go at this address to make asylum’.”
The respondent referred to the following picture:
The respondents explained that policemen said that if they go there for their next game and succeed to reach Are You Syrious?, they would just have to ask to them and they could make process the asylum claim. This was a lie.
The group described waiting around 20 minutes before they were brought to a police van driven by two officers wearing black clothes. They then described being driven for about 30 minutes before they arrived at a police station in Rijeka (HR) where they waited roughly 10 minutes in a room. After this, they were forced to go to another official van where around seven Pakistani persons were already inside.
At this point, the number of people pushed-back turns to nine. This entire group was then brought to a secluded section of the border between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (45.12834, 16.084308 BiH) near Stabandža (BiH) on the 4th of March at around slightly past midnight.
At the border, six policemen and one policewoman dealt with the respondents. The officers wore black Croatian uniforms. One of them opened the van’s doors and ordered the group-members to cross the border to go back to Bosnia-Herzegovina. At 8:00 am on March 5th, the two respondents arrived in Velika Kladuša, exhausted after two days of no sleep.