“"We would have preferred to die because it was freezing cold"”

  • Date and time: March 8, 2021 20:00
  • Location: Ribnica, Slovenia
  • Coordinates: 45.7400303, 14.7265782
  • Pushback from: Slovenia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 3 person(s), age: 28 and 27 , from: Morocco, Algeria
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), insulting, threatening with guns, gunshots, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 6 Croatian border officers, Slovenian police officers.
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: fingerprints taken, personal information taken, no translator present
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: No Name Kitchen

Original Report

On 27th February, the three men started to walk from Velika Kladusa, Bosnia in the direction of the border with Croatia, it was the 12th time that they tried to cross it. They described how their way was difficult as it was winter and extremely cold and snowy. In addition to the cold weather, the group had to cross some rivers some of which were very wide. Especially the nights were so cold, that the respondent describes their desperateness :

“We would have preferred to die because it was freezing cold” and “We thought we would die”. 

At some point, the men realized that they had already spent almost four days without having anything eaten, as they an out of food at some point during their journey.

The location where the group was finally apprehended by police was Ribnica, a little village in Slovenia. It was around seven in the morning, while the men were crossing a street, that they saw a woman walking in the street. Apparently, this woman directly informed the police when she saw the men.

Only, two minutes later, the respondents saw a van, they identified as belonging to the police, arriving, which made them stop. Reportedly, one of the four policemen took his gun and pointed to the head of one of them.

As the respondent states, he felt so desperate and anxious that he said: “Please, just kill me. I can’t walk, I will stay quiet”. The policemen answered “Ok”, but put his gun back. A few minutes later, another car appeared, this one was a normal car with as the respondent recalled, two policemen in civilian clothes.

The policemen asked the group members to get into the car. As the respondent recalls, they were sitting in the car with the two policemen in plainclothes, who drove them to the local police station of Ribnica.

Once in the police station, one of the respondents asked for asylum, but he was ignored. After that, the officers asked them for their passports and for their wallets and money. One of them handed over a 50 euro bill to the officer, which he tore in front of his face. When they left the police station later, their belongings (money, a necklace, and a driving license) that they had put onto the table were not longer there. 

The officers took their fingerprints, and told the men:

“You are from Morocco, you are from Algeria, don’t come back again, you can’t come here!”

In the following, the same officers brought them to the Croatian border in what the respondent identified as a police car. Once they arrived at the location, a van was waiting for them with two officers, which the respondent recalls to belong to the Croatian police. They had to change into it. This one dropped them off at the Croatian border to Bosnia.

At the border, there were another five people from Pakistan who had arrived there in other cars. At this location, they saw one big van with six border policemen waiting for them. The respondent described the moment when the six officers got out of the van, especially one of the officers started to insult the men and screamed at them. All of the officers wore a special uniform that the respondent recalls to belong to the police with ski masks, batons, etc.

They asked them to stay quiet and line up and undress. This is the moment when the officers started to strike them one by one. So, every group member got struck by six officers without interruption. They were struck with batons and reportedly the officers tried to hit them all over the body, especially onto the knees, to make it difficult for them to walk after that.

Additionally, they were humiliated, insulted, and stolen their belongings. The smallest of the officers took all of their belongings: their bags, their jackets, phones and wallets. Apparently, the two officers who dropped the group at the location, which the respondent described as nicer than the others, tried to convince him to return their belongings. In reaction, he screamed: “I will not return anything to these f***ing immigrants.”

Finally, they were returned their phones but broken. After that, they were left in their underwear and without shoes. The respondent described “we were shaking because of the cold.” They then started to walk back into Bosnia, until they eventually found a person who they begged to give them any clothes. This was near the village Bosanska Bojna in the evening on Monday 8th March. From there they sill had to walk six hours to get back to Velika Kladusa.