The two respondents are survivors of violent a pushback through Croatian authorities and the Croatian Special Police on May 16, 2022. The two respondents, two men of Pakistani nationality, set off at around 5 in the morning together with 7 other companions through the forest near Velika Kladuša, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The respondent described that although it was still dawn, the day seemed to get warm and sunny, ideal for attempting once again to cross the borders to the European Union, after about forty unsuccessful attempts. The group of 9 walked for almost a full day in the jungle, finally crossing the Bosnian-Croatian border and after another couple of hours of walking arrived near Glina, Croatia.
It was around 6 pm and the men were resting at the edge of a road to regain their strength when they ran into the Croatian police. The respondents claim to have recognized them by their language and their blue uniforms with the word “policija” on the back. Two policemen passing by on the road stopped the group and asked the men to board 3 vans. Once aboard, they were taken to the nearest police station in Glina.
At the police station, the respondents were told to get out of the vans and get into two new vans, this time driven by men who the respondents describe as dressed entirely in black and with their faces covered in balaclavas that showed only their eyes. From the details provided by the respondes, it seems most likely that they were part of a Special Police unit made up of 4 men. The behavior of the latter is described as more aggressive and violent than that the one of the Croatian police. The policemen now screamed to get into the vans immediately and stole the phones from the men (but not from the respondents as they did not have a phone).
The Special Police then pushed the group of 9 people back to Bosnia. The return journey was described by the respondents as particularly unpleasant and turbulent: ‘‘ crazy driving ’’, lack of air, and a high level of fear. Everyone held their heads in their hands and prayed; at one point one of the men started vomiting inside the vehicle. In the evening, after about an hour of travel and once they had crossed the border again, the police vans stopped in the middle of the forest near Vrnograc, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. At that point, the hooded policemen opened the doors of the vans (one first, then the other) and shouted and ordered each man out, one at a time.
‘‘ First out ! Out ! Out ! ’’
‘‘ Second out ! Out ! Out ! ’’
Once out of the van, each man was immobilized by two officers who held their arms wide open so that he could not move, while the other two officers beat him very violently. One of the two respondents claims to have been the first to undergo this treatment and was beaten with a truncheon for a period of time that he was unable to describe, sustaining injuries and bruises mainly to his back and legs. The second respondent was the seventh and in the same way, he was punched and kicked, injuring his hips and his right leg in particular. Regarding the duration of the violence, the only information provided by the respondent is that between the two (respectively first and seventh) about 10/15 minutes passed. The first of the two waited for the other, who once beaten reached his brother and ran away through the forest. The two men, injured and in pain, then continued walking in the jungle, managing to return, after a few hours, to the starting point at Velika Kladuša.