“I FEAR MY LUNGS STOP WORKING”

Bruise on respondent's thigh from a metal nut cracker
  • Date and time: October 1, 2019 17:00
  • Location: Brežice, Slovenia and Bregana, Croatia
  • Coordinates: 45.893702, 15.603285
  • Push-back from: Slovenia, Croatia
  • Push-back to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 5 person(s), age: 19-28 years old , from: Algeria
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, insulting, water immersion, gunshots, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving, tear gas cannister, use of a metal clamp to bruise individuals
  • Police involved: 5 Slovenian police in blue uniforms, 1 police van; 5 Croatian police officers in black with ski masks, 1 Croatian van
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: Border Violence Monitoring

    Original Report

    A group of five men in transit from Algeria ages 19-28 crossed the border from Croatia to Slovenia on 1st October 2019.

    The group in transit was walking across a highway bridge crossing over the river in Brežice, Slovenia when they were stopped by five Slovenian authorities in blue uniforms. One officer fired a pistol up into the air and shouted, “Stop!”.

    The group was transported in a Slovenian police van across the border into Croatia, to the approximate coordinates 45.842466, 15.694193 in Bregana (HR). Here the group was transferred into a Croatian police van. 

    When the group was loaded into the van one of the attending Croatian officers fired a canister of tear gas into the van, then a second officer fired another tear gas canister into the van and closed the doors. The doors to the van were locked and the group was stuck inside with no windows to open and no airflow. The respondent reports that his eyes were “burning like fire” and tears were running down his face, mucus dripping from his nose and his whole body broke out in a sweat in reaction to the gas. 

    “I have asthma, I fear my lungs stop working” 

    The respondent shared that he was asthmatic and feared his lungs were going to fail.  Members of the group were coughing and struggling to breathe after being exposed to severe amounts of tear gas. 

    The group remained in the van for six hours. The respondent reports that the officer was driving recklessly by making quick, wide turns and making sudden stops. 

    The men were taken out of the van and five Croatian police wearing all black clothing with the Croatian flag on the upper sleeves and black ski masks were standing around the van’s doors. The respondent noted that all five officers were carrying pistols and one officer had a large shotgun which he described as looking like a Kalashnikov. 

    “They looked like military, not regular police.”  

    One officer used a metal tool for opening nuts and pushed the metal into the respondent’s thigh and proceeded to open the tool, close the tool, and twist the metal clamp around the respondent’s skin leaving a deep purple colored bruise. 

    Bruise on respondent’s thigh from a metal nut cracker

    The officers beat the respondent and the group using their batons and delivered severe blows to their arms and backs. The police then forced all five members of the group to remove all of their clothing, leaving them in nothing but their underwear. One officer grabbed the respondent and pushed him into the river near the HR/BiH border. 

    Police took batons out and started to beat their backs again while yelling “Go! Go!” and “Go to the camp” as they forced the men towards the border. The respondent believes they were pushed from Croatian territory into an area near Klokot (BiH).