On 31st October 2019 a group of six men on the move from Algeria (ages 28-36) were apprehended at approximately 10.00 in Karlovac (HR). They were stopped by two Croatian regular police in blue uniforms. The respondent stated that the group was transported in a Croatian police van to a police station in Karlovac.
At the station the respondent was not given food or water. The respondent expressed intent for asylum and was denied. The group was not given documents to sign. They were detained for about six hours and then transported in a white Croatian police van with no windows in the rear and 15 people in total.
“We were packed like sardines.”
The respondent notes that there was not enough space in the police van for the amount of people transported inside, and this meant the ventilation inside the van was not sufficient. Several individuals were nauseous and vomited during the transport. The journey lasted approximately two hours.
At approximately 18.00 the van stopped and eight Croatian police in black uniforms with the Croatian flag embroidered on the arm and ski masks were waiting at the location. The police formed two lines to create some kind of a tunnel and surround the individuals as they exited. The transit group were forced out of the van one by one and beaten by the officers with batons as they exited.
The group was forced to undress on the spot and their personal belongings were burnt in a fire. They were then beaten again with fists, batons, and kicking by the eight officers. The respondent was mostly beaten on his legs. He has scars from a surgery required after a previous attempt at crossing the border and because these scars are visible, the respondent believes the police targeted his leg to cause more pain. The group was pushed back at a river location near the HR/BiH border at the approximate coordinates 45.058979, 15.742521. This area is marked by a stretch of the Korana river, close to Sturlic (BiH). Two officers fired pistols into the air and began pushing them into the river. The respondent reported on the officer actions saying:
“They pushed me into the river and said, ‘Good luck.’”