“They treat us worse than animals ”

  • Date and time: October 15, 2020 00:00
  • Location: Buhača, Croatia
  • Coordinates: 45.187659406018, 15.781693360116
  • Push-back from: Croatia
  • Push-back to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 9 person(s), age: 27-35 , from: Morocco, Algeria
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, threatening with guns, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 6 male Croation police officers, one police van
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention:
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: No Name Kitchen

Original Report

The concerned group was apprehended by six male Croatian police officers on October 15, 2020 at 2:00 a.m., about three kilometers west of the Bosnia-Croatian border. The group consisted of 4 men from Algeria and 5 men from Morocco, ranging from 27- to 35-years-old. When the police officers stopped the men, they put them into a black van and drove them a few kilometers back towards the border [45.186800, 15.781288].

Alleged location of the pushback

There the group had to exit the van one by one. Outside the van they were surrounded by several police officers who then struck them individually. The respondent describes how he could not see anything since they were in the forest without any light. Thus he had no chance to protect himself from the strokes.

“They were beating me from every side with everything,” the respondent said. “With the baton, they hit me with their fists, they kick me. On my back, on my head, on my legs, everywhere.”

He described how at one point he could no longer stand and fell to the ground, where the police kept striking him with their batons. Before the next man was forced to leave the van, they picked up the respondent’s body and carried him to the side, where they put him on top of the previous man they struck. “They make pyramids of our bodies,” he explained.

“They treat us worse than animals. Not even animals you would beat like the Croatian police beat us.”

The respondent estimated the men were beaten for about an hour. Afterwards they were forced to get up and undress to their boxershorts and remove their shoes. Their clothes and belongings were put in a pile and set on fire. The respondent is an asthmatic, so he asked one of the policemen if he could keep and use his asthma spray; instead the officer took the spray out of his hand and threw it into the woods.

All the group members then had to line up in single file, holding their hands behind their heads. When the respondent did not immediately put his hands behind his head, one of the police officers threatened him with his gun, whispering to him, “Next time I will kill you.” The group was then forced to walk over the border into Bosnia accompanied by the six police officers. The people on the move were walking in single file with the officers flanking them on both sides. As all of the group members were seriously injured, they advanced very slowly, and the officers kept striking them to keep the group walking until they arrived. They walked for approximately ten minutes, and the police released the men at approximately 4:00 am in one of the forests surrounding Velika Kladusa.

The push-back resulted in serious injuries for all nine men: open wounds on their heads and legs, black eyes, welts and marks from the strokes, mainly on the upper body and extremities, and at least one sprained foot.