On November 15th. 2017, in the morning, a group of 7 men walked from Šid, Serbia across the Serbian-Croatian border and continued by car going West for 3 hours. The driver had ordered them to leave their shoes, so that police couldn’t catch them because of muddy footprints on the floor of the car. However, at about 9-10 am., the car was stopped by a scanner at the Croatian border. The men didn’t see where they were driving, and where thus in doubt about whether it was the border to Slovenia or Bosnia and Herzegovina.
4-5 Croatian police officers told the men to leave the car, asked for their destination and searched their bodies and belongings. They asked why the men didn’t have shoes, and the men told the truth. The men expressed their intention to seek asylum. Afterwards they were transported (about 5 minutes drive) to a police station in a Croatian city (the men didn’t see where they were driving or which city it was). At the station they confirmed their intention to seek asylum, so the police interrogated them. They also asked why the men didn’t have shoes, and the men again answered truthfully.
The police gave each of them an already filled out asylum registration paper, written in English, to sign, and took their fingerprints and photos. The police didn’t talk so much, but silently carried out the procedures. After about 30 minutes at the police station, without been given any documents, the men were transported for about 20 minutes of driving to the Serbian-Croatian border near Sid, Serbia. They were deported to the Serbian side and handed over to the Serbian police, who took them to the local police station (MUP).
The Croatian police explained that this was done because the men passed through Croatia illegally. At the Serbian police station they were interrogated again. The Serbian police accused the men of lying about their ages, and threatened to transfer them to Presevo camp. One of the police officers asked about their shoe sizes, but never came back to give them shoes. When one of the youngest boys fell asleep, one of the police officers slapped him in the face and denied him permission to sleep. In total they spent about 5 hours at this police station. Afterwards, on the same day at about 5pm., the police released the men.