In mid-May, around the 15th, a group of 6 men from North Africa crossed into Croatia near the town of Šid, Serbia. They started during the evening and made their way across the rural interior of the country on foot towards the Croatian border city of Vinkovci.
“I tried my trip last week with my friends. We walked in the land of Croatia about 20 km in the dark night. It took us about 6 hours.”
At around this time, the group heard movement and hid in nearby patch of trees, and were soon approached by a group of around 5 Croatia police officers who acted aggressive and violent towards the group, hitting them with batons and kicks and strikes with their hands:
“We were hiding in the trees until the Croatian police took us out. [Then] they used all means, beating with the stick and hands and their legs, [they hit] us without mercy and took us to the road [in a] the police van.
The respondent described that before they entered into the police van. The van was white with police insignia painted onto it and had no windows. The authorities confiscated their mobile phones and money, which they had attempted to hide in their shoes. They were then placed in the van and driven back to the Serbian border. The whole process of being captured, searched, waiting for the van, and then being driven back took around two hours.
“They took the phones and money from the shoes, and they [brought] us to the Serbian border, next to the railway, where they completed the beating without mercy, and stole everything from us using us like animals.”
“It took us for two hours and brought us back to the Serbian border. There are other police at the border who have no mercy on the beatings…at the border, [they] cover the face to beat us without mercy. They don’t reveal their faces at the border because they steal.”
Upon arriving back to the border with Serbia, the group was ushered out of the van. They described encountering several new officers who were waiting for them at this push-back location. They were described as wearing black ski masks (likely the Croatia border guard). These officers were also described as striking the group-members.
“Their treatment is very bad, [they] do not treat us like a human being. Migrants are not [treated] by law”
After crossing back over to Serbia, the group made their way to Principovac were they were able to gain entrance to the Transit Center there.