“They beat you inside, because when they return you in this way you feel yourself hurt”

  • Date and time: May 10, 2021 00:00
  • Location: near Idomeni, Greece
  • Coordinates: 41.127734067754, 22.514055562419
  • Pushback from: North Macedonia
  • Pushback to: Greece
  • Demographics: 5 person(s), age: 22-30 years old , from: Morocco
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride
  • Police involved: two officers in black pants and blue shirt, three officers in civilian clothing
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention:
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: Mobile Info Team

Original Report

The respondent is a 26-year-old man from Morocco. He was pushed back from North Macedonia to Greece on the 10th of May 2021. The respondent was traveling together with six other men from Morocco and one pregnant woman. They were between 22 and 30 years old. 

When the transit group arrived in Ohrid, they were approached by two men in uniform driving a car which, according to the respondent, resembled a police car. The respondent suggested that a resident called the police after seeing them.

When asked to describe what the men’s uniforms and their vehicle, the respondent said they were wearing black pants and blue shirts, and driving a blue van with the police insignia on it and a metal cell inside. 

The respondent reported that the group was then taken in the blue van to what was described as a police station nearby the point of apprehension. According to the respondent, he and the four other men from the group were taken first, and then officers later returned to take the pregnant woman and her husband.

The drive lasted approximately 15 minutes, during which the officers were alternating between extreme car temperatures, said the respondent.  

Once they arrived at the Ohrid building referred to as a police station by the respondent, an officer reportedly punched one of the people apprehended in the stomach.

With the information that the respondent gave, is it likely that this is the location of the police station: https://goo.gl/maps/kwmuaR8t4PFJyKSK6 . However, it must be noted that this location has not been independently verified. 

The respondent recalled being given food and water outside the station while waiting for the pregnant woman and her husband to be brought by the officers.

Once they arrived, the entire group was brought inside the station, where they were each interviewed, their personal information was taken, and they were questioned about how they crossed the borders, explained the respondent. 

They remained at the station for approximately one and a half hours.

According to the respondent, five officers were present during this time; two of them were wearing uniforms while the others were wearing civilian clothing.

The respondent also described someone in civilian clothes using a camera that he presumed was a journalist.

Then, the same two officers who had apprehended the group, loaded the five men (including the respondent) into the same blue van and drove them for approximately two hours, to what the respondent described as “a checkpoint”. The respondent recalled that this checkpoint was close to a railway and a petrol station.

The officers brought the couple afterward, the same way they had previously done.

Once they were at this “checkpoint”, the respondent described having their fingerprints and pictures taken.

According to the respondent, an Arabic-speaking woman in civilian clothing offered them to be returned to Morocco if thats what they wanted. It is unclear to the respondent whether the woman was working for state authorities or for another organisation. The group stayed at this location for about 20 to 30 minutes.

The respondent recalled that he noticed a group of people from Pakistan present at the checkpoint, who were brought back to the border before the transit group. Moreover, as the respondent was leaving, there was another group arriving at the checkpoint.

After a 10 to 15 minute drive, the respondent was reportedly taken to a gate at the border, along with the four other Moroccan men. The woman and her husband were at this point separated from the group, and were not brought to the border with them.

According to the respondent, he and the other four men were pushed back somewhere between 20:00 and 21:00. While walking through the gate, the officers were threatening them and telling them to not come back, recalled the respondent. 

When asked if he was subject to any violence at this gate, the respondent stated:

“They beat you inside, because when they return you in this way you feel yourself hurt, especially when you go back to Greece it is very dangerous, Greece you think yourself like in Turkey.  If you didn’t get away from Greece you will come back to the first point.”

From there, recounted the respondent, the transit group followed the tracks and boarded a train to Thessaloniki the next day.