On 18th October 2019, at approximately 17:00, a group of seven men in transit were stopped by two Croatian police officers in blue uniforms in Kukuljani (HR). Upon apprehension, they were transported by a white Croatian police van with tinted windows. The van drove them for approximately one hour, but the respondent is unsure of which police station they were taken to because they could not see from the van. They were immediately removed from the van at one of the doors to the police station.
In the police station, the respondent’s personal information was taken, including name and family name. One officer took a photo of the respondent’s ID card. Photos of their faces were also taken. All seven members of the group were forced to sign a document issued to them by the officers. Six of the men were unable to understand the document and were denied a translator.
“Because we are here illegally we don’t want to make any problems with the police. If we say anything they will beat us. So we don’t say anything.”
The respondent suggests that the group in transit was intimidated by the police into signing the documents.
The respondent, who knew the most English, was the last person from the group to be called up to the desk to sign the document. There was no translator present, but his understanding was that the document stated that the officers at the police station had helped the group in transit and given them food and water. In reality, the respondent says no one was given food or water at the station.
“I suffer more from this because when they catch us I am so tired and hungry but they do not accept me and give me food even after I get sick in the car (police van). We drink from dirty water on the trip and we are too afraid to buy food in Croatia.”
The respondent expressed intent for asylum and one officer laughed at his request.
From the police station the group was transported in one white Croatian police van with no windows. The drive was approximately one and half hours. There was no air moving in the van and the temperature inside was extremely hot.
“When the doors on the van close you cannot take a breath”
The van stopped on the Croatian border, near to Bihać (BiH). Once taken outside of the van, the group in transit was beaten on the back by officers with batons. Six Croatian police in black uniforms forced the group to undress and put their personal belongings into a pile which was lit on fire.Their jackets, shirts, and backpacks were burnt. The respondent put his hands over his head and face to protect himself and then his arms and elbows received many blows from the baton. Officers used batons and stomped on theirs phone to break them.
After beating the group, one officer said:
“Go now and I never see you again.”
A second officer laughed and said:
Then the transit group were ordered back into BiH, where they walked half naked to reach shelter.