The respondent, his wife, their two small children, along with two other men were travelling by vehicle to the Italian border. The van was stopped in Slovenia, 4 km from Trieste around 14:00 on 7th October 2019. The Slovenian police intervented by surrounding the car and pointing guns at the family.
They were made to get out from the car, the respondent was holding one child, his wife the other. The police was screaming at them, intimidating them. They were taken to a police station without explanation of what was going on.
“We were closed in a room all walls made from cement and only one window with bars. There was no translator, no food, water, for hours. We were scared because the police kept screaming at us and we didn’t know what was going on.”
They were detained for the whole night. There was a sign on the wall of the police station with Arabic translation saying that everyone has the right to apply for asylum.
“Ha, it should be, everyone has the right to come here running from violence to experience more violence.”
A translator arrived the next morning, 8th October, and the respondent clearly expressed to him their wish to apply for asylum in Slovenia, but the translator did not take him seriously, he kept insulting him and refused to translate his wishes.
“I told him ‘I am from Syria’, he called me a liar. He kept yelling at me that I am liar. Police was humiliating me, telling me ‘ha, you want to apply for asylum, we will take you to a camp yes, to a camp in Bosnia.'”
The police was only interested in his connection to the smuggler, asking him questions and details about the relationship with smuggler and the deal they made (when, where, how much money, where did they go), they didn’t accept his claim for asylum. After this interrogation they were delayed food again until mid day when the police came to their cell and told him that his wife and children will be taken to the camp in Ljubljana (SLO) if he agrees to go to court and testify. At first, he refused because they did not explain to him what was the court process about, but after they kept putting pressure on him for a few hours, he agreed to go to court, if they take his wife and children to the camp in Ljubljana.
The respondent trusted the police who then took his wife and children. He went to court and realized he would have to testify against the smuggler. After the court was finished he was taken to the police car.
“I asked about my wife and children, I didn’t know where they were. The police woman told me they were resting in camp, that they were happy and playing. She told me I am coming to join them.”
He was disappointed to arrive to another police station, where they took his fingerprints and pictures before reuniting him with his family. His wife confirmed him that they had been in that police station the whole time and were never taken to camp. The next morning, now 9th October, they were served breakfast in a bag.
“They told us to prepare to go to camp and that we will eat food they give us there because we will be late for breakfast.”
They were put in a car and driven for 40 minutes, again disappointed when they realized they were brought to an official border crossing and delivered into Croatia. They were searched in front of everyone and put in a small room for seven hours where there was another Turkish man, he was beaten with sticks and kicked. The other two men from Syria from the initial transit grouo were also brought there. The room had no air, they weren’t given any food, and one infant daughter started crying and throwing up.
The respondent asked to go outside with her, the police just kicked the door and yelled at him. After a while they were allowed to go out for five minutes. They were taken to a van and driven for 2.5 hours, still without being given food.
“The police came with biscuits and cola in front of us and ate them while my children were crying hungry, they laughed at us.”
The group were taken to a mountainous spot on evening of 9th October and shown with a flashlight the direction of Bosnia and told to walk there. They walked for 15 km before reaching the camp they stayed in, all without food or water, depending on the kindness of locals for support.