“We are not terrorists, We are only looking for a good life to take care of our families”

Three bruises on the chest
  • Date and time: October 15, 2019 00:00
  • Location: Buhača, Croatia
  • Coordinates: 45.191148, 15.7515638
  • Pushback from: Croatia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 7 person(s), age: 26, 27, 30, 31, 33, 35, 36 , from: Morocco
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, threatening with guns, gunshots, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving
  • Police involved: 4 Croatian police in navy blue uniforms, 5 Croatian Interventna police in black uniforms with ski masks, 1 Croatian police van
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: personal information taken, papers signed, no translator present
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: Border Violence Monitoring Network

Original Report

A group of seven men from Morocco ages 26, 27, 30, 31, 33, 35, 36 were stopped in Buhača (HR) shortly after crossing the border from Velika Kladuša (BiH). 

Four Croatian police officers in navy blue uniforms spotted the group and yelled at them to, “Stop! Stop!”. The officers fired several gunshots towards the respondent’s feet. The group was forced to sit on the ground with their hands behind their heads. While on the ground, the officers kicked the men in their legs. The respondent noted, “their large boots” which he felt seemed meant to hurt others. Prior to being stopped, the respondent saw a large, green drone in the area. 

The group was not taken to a police station but was asked for personal information of their names and family names. The officers gave them each a document to sign which was written in Croatian language. There was no translation.

The respondent expressed intent for asylum and one officer replied by saying, “No asylum. Go to Bosnia.” The respondent attempted to tell the officer:

“We are not terrorists, we are nothing. We just want to have a home and to not have so many problems in our mind. I have four diplomas and I can do good work. We are only looking for a good life to take care of our families.” 

The group was then forced into a white Croatian police van and were transported to a small road off highway R403a (that leads to Cazin (BiH)). The police in blue uniforms who were driving the van told them to “Go” and get out of the van. There were five Croatian police in black uniforms and black ski masks waiting outside of the van which transported the men. The officers beat the men with batons on their backs and on their legs. One man in transit was beaten on his chest.

Swelling on left side of back and small bruises on the spine from being beaten with the baton

“When they were kicking us we yelled ‘Allah, Allah, help.’”

This beating left bruises on their backs and the respondent had pain and swelling on his back which inhibited him from walking upright. The group was forced to undress and the officers took their shoes, bags, and jackets.

The officers told the group to leave and to, “Go to Bosnia camp.”. So the transit group was ejected over the border into BiH. The respondent noted:

“We go to the camp and we see the problems from outside and we all say we should not enter, so we walked back to Velika Kladuša.”

The respondent noted that there were continued problems with the camps on their return, but also that the local BiH police were forcibly removing people from city centers and squats and driving them to locations near camps.