“Pushback of a minor near Idomeni”

  • Date and time: May 4, 2021 04:00
  • Location: Idomeni, Greece
  • Coordinates: 41.128315312893, 22.516917298427
  • Pushback from: North Macedonia
  • Pushback to: Greece
  • Demographics: 4 person(s), age: 16 , from: Morocco
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other)
  • Police involved: North Macedonian police officers
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: fingerprints taken, photos taken, personal information taken
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: Anonymous Partner

Original Report

The respondent is a 16-year-old male from Morocco. Before reaching North Macedonia he had been pushed back to Turkey twice.

He was traveling alone and crossed the border to North Macedonia on the 29th of April. He walked for five days until he got apprehended between 1:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m., just before reaching the North Macedonian capital Skopje.

He described walking in a small forest beside the highway A4. There, four N. Macedonian police officers approached him in a white patrol car with police insignia on it. They were wearing a black police uniform and yellow vests.

The respondent was told to sit on the ground and wait until a dark blue van without windows in the back arrived. In that van, there were three Moroccans, all aged between 20 and 25, who tried to escape the police but were caught by the police officers and then beaten with batons.

After this episode, the respondent was made to enter the van alongside the other three Moroccans. They passed Veles and Gevgelija and after approximately 90 minutes arrived at a place close to the Greek border that the respondent identified as a camp. This camp had been mentioned in several previous testimonies (1,2).

Arriving at the camp, the respondent observed a group of seven people-on-the-move (PoM) being loaded into a dark blue van. His group was then made to enter the camp one by one. They were directed to what the respondent described as a ‘reception’, where their fingerprints and pictures were taken. After this procedure, they were made to wait outside the camp.

Approximately half an hour after arriving at the camp, the blue van that was supposedly used to push back the seven people on the move, returned and picked up the respondent’s group. After a drive of 15 minutes, they arrived at the border fence close to the Greek village of Idomeni at around 4:00 a.m. There the officers opened a gate and told them to go back to Greece. The role of this gate as a quasi-official pushback site has been analysed by BVMN in the monthly report for December 2020. As more recent testimonies show, it continues to be a key location in pushbacks from North Macedonia to Greece.

Once back in Greece, the respondent, together with his group, got a train back to Thessaloniki.

At no time during the pushback did the respondent ask for asylum.