“I Am Swimming Because the Water Is Here On Me (points to chin) But I Had To Turn Back”

  • Date and time: November 27, 2019 02:30
  • Location: Donje Jame, Croatia
  • Coordinates: 45.424728, 16.105709
  • Push-back from: Croatia
  • Push-back to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 17 person(s), age: 19, 23, 25 , from: Afghanistan, Pakistan
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, threatening with guns, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings, reckless driving
  • Police involved: 3 Croatian officers in black/navy blue uniforms; 7 Croatian police in all black uniforms
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, photos taken, no translator present, denial of food/water
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: Border Violence Monitoring, No Name Kitchen

Original Report

On 27th November 2019 a group of three men in transit, one from Pakistan and two from Afghanistan, were apprehended at approximately 02.30 in Donje Jame (HR). The group was originally traveling with 23 others in transit but at the river some decided to separate because not everyone could swim. Describing the depth, the respondent said:

“I am swimming because the water is here on me (points to chin) but I had to turn back,”

The respondent had to swim back, exited the river on the same side that he entered and he and two friends decided to return the direction they had come. 

They were stopped by Croatian authorities in black and navy blue uniforms. One officer fired a pistol and yelled, “Stop.” The three men in transit, ages 19, 23, 25, were apprehended and brought from the location to a Croatian police station. 

At the station one officer took photos of the men’s faces. They were not asked to sign documents. There was no translator but the respondent did express intent for asylum to one officer. The group was detained for about one hour. From the station they were transported in a white Croatian police van with no windows in the rear with fourteen other individuals from different groups in transit. Referring to the overcrowding in the police van, the respondent stated, “It felt like 40 of us.” The respondent also noted reckless driving and feeling nauseous. One member of the group vomited in the van and continued to feel sick into the next day, resulting in him going to the hospital. 

The group was pushed back to the HR/BiH border at a time when it was still mostly dark. The respondent estimates that it was approximately 04.30. When the Croatian police van stopped the group was forced to exit the vehicle one by one and to walk through two lines consisting of a total of seven Croatian officers in all black uniforms. As the respondent exited he was beaten by each officer who hit him and the others with their batons and then passed them down the line. The respondent describes the officers as taking turns beating the individuals. The group was forced to remove their jackets which were taken and then burnt along with other personal belongings.