“take a taxi and go to Italy”

  • Date and time: November 30, 2019 22:00
  • Location: Near Buhača, Croatia
  • Coordinates: 45.183882, 15.776195
  • Push-back from: Croatia
  • Push-back to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 6 person(s), age: 23-25 , from: Morocco, Algeria
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: kicking, pushing people to the ground, threatening with guns, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings, police denigrating and laughing, police making bad jokes
  • Police involved: 2 male Croatian police officers with blue uniform and Croatian emblem; 1 male and 1 female police officers with black uniform and Croatian emblem, 1 police van; 2 male Croatian police officers with blue uniform, 1 police car; 2 male Croatian police oiffcers with black uniform; 1 male and 1 female police officers with no uniform but belt with guns; 2 male police officers with black uniform, 1 police van; 2 Croatian border police, 1 van
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: fingerprints taken, papers signed, no translator present, denial of food/water, false information given
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: No Name Kitchen

Original Report

The respondents, six men aged 23 – 25 from Morocco and Algeria, were in Grabovac (HR) when stopped by the Croatian police approximately 13:00 on 30th November 2019. Three of the transit group were stopped while walking towards the bus station by authorities whom they identified as two male Croatian police officers. The police officers were wearing blue uniforms with the Croatian emblem. The respondents were asked for passports and they answered “I don’t have”. The police officers told them “stay”.

At that point, the police called other two police officers who arrived with a police van and loaded the three respondents. These police officers were wearing black uniforms with the Croatian emblem and were one male and one female. The respondents report of a person informing police that the rest of their group was in an abandoned house. The respondents identify this person as the farmer who was working in the fields near the abandoned house. The police officers wearing black uniforms drove the van with the three respondents to the abandoned house. When arrived, the three respondents were unloaded from the van. One of them tried to escape and police forced him to sit down on the ground. 

In the abandoned house were the other three respondents of the group. Also a police car with two male police officers wearing blue uniforms arrived at the house. The three respondents in the house tried to escape from police. A police officer shouted them “stop” threatening them with a gun. The respondents stopped.  

The respondents were denied taking their belongings from the abandoned house. One respondents said “this is my bag, may I take it” and one of the police officers in blue uniform answered “no”. Police took the powerbank of one of the respondents and run over it with the van when outside of the abandoned house. Another respondent was taken the shoes, the scarf and the jacket. He claims that a police officer set fire to his scarf and threw the lighter into the fire to make it blow up. The respondent says that “it was very cold”. The respondents report the police officers telling them to warm up with the fire and laughing at them. The respondents were ordered to sit down on the street. A police officer in blue uniform asked to one of the respondents if he spoke English and the respondent answered “no”. After a while, the same police officer asked them in English how many people there were in their group and the same respondent answered. The police officer told him:

“you do speaking English, why did you say you didn’t”.

After this the police officer kicked the respondent twice, in the chest and in the face. 

All the six respondents were driven in the police van to the police station. They were not told where they were going nor had phones because the police withheld them at the front of the vehicle. Neither could they see out of the windows. The respondents perceived the travel as 20/30 minutes long. From the indications of the respondents and pushback location, it can be suggested this was likely to have been Slunj police station (HR). 

At the police station, the respondents claim that they were not brought to an office but to what they identify as a “garage”. There, the respondents asked for food and water but they were denied both. The police officers told them “go drink and eat in Bosnia”. The respondents went one by one to an office where they were taken the fingerprints. Two male police officers wearing black uniforms were in the garage and one male and one female police officers were in the office. The police officers in the office did not wear any uniform but had belts with guns. The respondents were taken fingerprints of both hands and all fingers.

Police told the transit group that after this process they could stay in Croatia without any problem. Actually, after their fingerprints were taken, the respondents were told “go to Bosnia”. The respondents refer to police making jokes about them, telling:

“take a taxi and go to Italy”

At which point the officers laughed at the transit group. No official translator was provided to the respondents. The respondents claim that they asked for asylum but were ignored by police. The respondents were forced to quickly sign documents they actually had no time to read. The respondents did not know what was the content of the documents. The documents were both written in English and Arabic. One police officer told the respondents “be quick, I want to go back home”. 

The respondents were loaded in a police van and were driven to the border to Bosnia-Herzegovina (approximate coordinates 45.183882,15.776195). Two male police officers wearing black uniforms were in the van. The respondents could not see outside of the windows nor had phones with them. The respondents claim that at the border (where they arrived at approximately 22:00) there was a van which they identified as Croatian border police, with two police officers sitting inside. The respondents did not speak with them. The respondents were told “you are in Kladusa, go to Kladusa”

From that point, the respondents walked in the fields for roughly half an hour to go back to the town of Velika Kladusa (BiH). The respondents crossed by foot over a small river with water reaching their ankles in order to return.