At 9.00 on 24th November 2019, two Italian police officers stopped a group of three Moroccan men in transit. The respondents had been walking for thirteen days and stopped in Domio (IT) to eat at a restaurant. While they were eating two Italian authorities in blue uniforms with the Italian flag emblem on their arm sleeves approached the group and told them to stop. One officer asked:
“Where are your papers?”
The respondent showed his documents, after which the group was apprehended and transported in an Italian police vehicle to the police station in Trieste (IT).
At the police station a female translator from Morocco asked the group if they wanted to express intent for asylum. The respondent said, “Yes”, but the translator told the respondent to write “No”. When asked, the respondent expressed his intention to look for employment and opportunity for his family. During the procedure, an Italian officer confiscated the respondent’s identification card from Morocco. Recalling the incident, the respondent stated:
“We don’t know the rules”
The respondent, and the group, did not have information about the legal asylum seeking procedures, and neither the translator or authorities gave them access to information before forcing them to sign the mentioned documents. All members of the group were given a document asking for personal information, including name and family name. The respondent was not allowed to keep the document nor was he given a copy. The documents were later given to Slovenian authorities when the group in transit was deported to Ljubljana (SLO). Prior to transportation the group was informed at the police station that they would be transported to “the center.” This respondent suggested this was a false claim, implying that the group were being told they would stay in Italy.
The group was transported in one Slovenian police van to a location in Ljubljana (SLO). The respondent described the location where the group was transported to as “the immigration center.” Based on their experience, the respondents believe they were either brought to a Ljubljana police station or to the Ljubljana Vič Asylum Centre.
At the place of detention, Slovenian officers documented their fingerprints using the index and middle fingers. The group signed a document asking for their personal information. An officer told the respondent that they “Are going to the judge.” The respondent believes they were wrongfully informed regarding this process, and were given false information from a Slovenian police officer who told them they would appear before a judge (which they were never taken to). The transit group were detained overnight and slept at the facility in Ljubljana.
The group state they were collected from the facility by one Croatian police van with no windows. In the van they were exposed to extreme cold and felt nauseous from reckless driving and wide turns. They could not see and did not have their phones because the Croatian officers driving withheld their mobile devices, removing them and keeping them in the front of the van.
The group was forced to exit the van in a location which the respondents described as “the jungle.”, suggested to be a wooded area 5-10 kilometers from Velika Kladuša (BiH). When the group exited the van at the border, six male Croatian officers in black uniforms and ski masks were waiting outside of the van. The police took out the transit groups phones and broke all three using batons. The group’s three sleeping bags, three jackets, backpacks, and one tent were confiscated and burned in a fire lit by the officers..
After the removal and destruction of the items the officers physically attacked the transit group. Recalling the incident, the respondent described how the group was hit on the shoulders and back with police batons.
“They beat us in Croatia”
One respondent was beaten with a police baton on the knee and stated: “I have pain in my knee”. The 42 year old man in the group was wearing prescription glasses which a Croatian officer confiscated and broke into pieces. After the beatings and damage to possessions, the three were ordered back into BiH (occuring on 24th November 2019).