On 26th October 2019 a group of three men from Algeria were in transit in Croatia. They were stopped by two Croatian police in blue uniforms. The respondent shared how they were careful to be very compliant because of the knowledge they had about Croatian officials beating transit groups.
“We didn’t want to run because we knew they are hitting immigrants.”
The respondent shared that the group stopped in place when they saw the police fearing they would otherwise be attacked more.
The respondent expressed intent for asylum at this point. One officer answered him in the Croatian language. The respondent could not understand exactly what the officer said, but he knew he was being denied the right to ask for asylum. There was no translation offered.
At the initial point where the group was stopped, police took personal belongings, including bags, sleeping bags, wallets, phones and power banks and put their possesions into a bag. The bag was kept in the front of the police van with the officers. The respondents were then told to get into the back of the van.
The vehicle drove off, and spent the journey speeding and making sudden stops. The respondent believes they were driven along dirt roads because they were in the van for several hours and felt many bumps. When the doors to the van opened, two of the three men vomited. The van stopped next to the river at the Croatia/BiH border, approximately six kilometers from Šturlić.
Eleven Croatian police in black uniforms were waiting outside. One officer had a ski mask covering his face. Three officers stood in front of the men, three officers stood behind the men, and the other two circled the men in transit. The officers had sticks taken from trees, about 1.5 meters long, which they used to beat the three men.
Their elbows and arms were beaten the most, the respondent suffering a lasceration to his arm during the attack.
“They wanted to break my elbows,”
The officers searched the men’s pockets and bags and confiscated 200 euros. The respondent had food in his backpack which was also confiscated. Their phones were taken then thrown onto the ground and stomped on until broken. The men were ordered to undress and the officers took their clothing, including socks, shoes, and jackets. Their personal belongings were destroyed in a fire.
“We lost everything.”
The men were left standing in nothing but their boxers. The officers formed a human barrier around the group on one side with the river forming a physical barrier on the other side. An officer then shouted, “Now go back to Bosnia!” .
“I jumped in the water because I fear when they beat you, they won’t stop. I saw the video of the man dead in the river. I know what they can do.”
The group had no choice but to walk through the river and continue back to Bosnia with nothing but their underwear.
“We were so cold without shoes, without anything. We walked for about 6 hours”