The group, which consisted of 6 people, aged 25 to 34 years, left for Croatia during the night of October 3, 2020. They left at around 1:00 am on foot from Velika Kladusa in Bosnia. After walking about 30 kilometers in the forest along the Bosnian border, they entered to Croatia near the border town Šturlić. The respondent estimated the time at which they crossed the border to be around 2:00 pm.
According to the respondent, only a short time later they encountered seven Croatian police officers clad in dark uniforms. Of these seven officers, six were male and one was female. At this point the group was still walking in the forest and when the authorities took notice of the group, they shouted at them to stop.
“There is police everywhere, so no chance to run away anyway.”
In the following minutes, the police encircled the group shouting at them to sit down in a line.
“They scream at you to sit down and not look up again. They scream all the time to you.”
After this, the respondent described that he and his fellow group-members were beaten on their backs with a baton, one after the other – “as usual”. The respondent recalled that this time they were lucky “because they only hit us on the back.” Only one person of the group was hit several times onto his knees by the police, so that he now has difficulties walking. As they were not allowed to look up during the procedure the respondent could not tell what the police was doing in the meantime to the other members of the group. He did described that in the course of his interactions with authorities, he expressed an intention to claim asylum in Croatia.
“Of course I ask them to get asylum. I ask every time. But they just laugh at you.”
After around 15-20 minutes they were put into a large police van and brought back to a secluded section of the Bosnian border near Sturlic at which point they were told to leave the van. According to the respondent, they arrived back to the border at roughly 4:00 pm. After they left the van, the group was allegedly forced to undress to their underpants and a T-shirt. “Everything as usual”. All of the group-members had to give the officers everything they had with them: their phones and power banks, all of their clothes, including their shoes, their backpacks, their food and their money.
“Like every time they made a fire and burn everything. The phones they destroy them with their batons.”
After this, the group was told to walk back into Bosnian territory, which they did.
“Then you have to walk back to Velika Kladusa and you have nothing. Really nothing. No phone, no money, no food, no clothes. They take everything from you. Not only your things but also your mental and your physical health.”