“The respondent asked for a toilet and the officer gave him a plastic bag”

Hand injury sustained in attack by officers, that had afterwards become infected.
  • Date and time: October 18, 2019 19:00
  • Location: Damalj, Croatia
  • Coordinates: 45.421079, 15.177911
  • Push-back from: Croatia
  • Push-back to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 4 person(s), age: 25, 28, 30, 31 , from: Morocco
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, insulting, threatening with guns, gunshots, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving
  • Police involved: 4 Croatian police in blue uniforms, 1 Croatian police officer with a black ski mask, 2 Croatian police vans
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, no translator present, denial of access to toilets, denial of food/water
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: Border Violence Monitoring

Original Report

A group of 4 Moroccan men in transit were stopped by police officers near the river in Damalj (HR) on 18th October 2019 at approximately 19.00. The respondent believes a civilian, who saw the group moments prior, called the police and reported the group in transit. Four Croatian authorities in dark blue uniforms, suggested to be possibly border police, and one Croatian officer in a black mask ordered the group to stop. They simultaneously fired several pistol shots towards the group in transit. The four group members all put their hands up above their heads and remained stationary.

The officer wearing the mask ordered each person to empty their pockets and ordered the one man with a small bag to empty his bag. The officer confiscated five mobile phones and a total of 300 euros. The group was forced to undress and was transported to the police station wearing only boxers in one white Croatian police van with no windows. 

At the police station the respondent requested food asking, “Anything to eat? We haven’t eaten in 2 days. Water?”.

The officer ignored this question, and the request for asylum made by the group. Throughout they were denied food and water, and were not processed officially. When the respondent asked to use the toilet, one officer handed him a plastic bag. The officer surveilling them while detained in the cell was drinking alcohol. The respondent believes from the smell that the officer was drinking whiskey. The respondent was commanded to not look at the officer’s face. When they lifted their faces to look up, the officer screamed at them and told them to look down. 

After being detained, the group was forced into another Croatian police van with no windows and no air circulation. The driver recklessly made wide turns that caused the respondent to fall off of the bench in the back of the van. The respondent said he could hear the driver laughing. Several persons vomited in the van. 

The van stopped on the Croatian side of the border with BiH (near Šturlić) at about midnight. Four officers in ski masks kicked the group in transit as they descended from the vehicle. The respondent stated that one officer had steel-toed boots.

“It felt like his boot was cutting into the leg when he kicked us.”

The officer in the ski mask grabbed one of the men by the ear and pulled him back and forth while making dog noises. Another officer used his baton to hit one of the men in the stomach.

Hand injury sustained in attack by officers, that had afterwards become infected.

During this ordeal, there was an enforced silence by the officers.

“You can’t do anything, just stay quiet.”

The men were ordered to not speak. The driver took the group’s phones and power banks which had been confiscated during apprehension and then broke them as the group watched. Their clothing and shoes were put into a pile and lit on fire, then the group were pushed back into BiH. The transit group of four walked an estimated 30 km from Šturlić to Velika Kladuša with no shoes and no jackets.