“'Italy', they laughed, 'okay, come, I'm gonna bring you to Italy' ”

  • Date and time: April 24, 2022 08:00
  • Location: Ruševica, close to village of Cetingrad, Croatia
  • Coordinates: 44.825511, 15.727917
  • Pushback from: Croatia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 8 person(s), age: 15, 15, 16, 17 years old , from: Afghanistan
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: dog attacks, forcing to undress, reckless driving, pushing people into the car
  • Police involved: 2 Croatian border or regular police officers: dark blue uniforms, 1 white transport vehicle with “policija” written on blue stripes on the sides; 4 Croatian intervention police officers: black uniform, 1 white prisoner transport van, with “policija” written on blue stripes on the sides, no windows in the back, 2 benches inside
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: no translator present, denial of food/water
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: Blindspots

Original Report

On Sunday, the 24th of April 2022 at around 8 a.m., a group of 4 people from Afghanistan got pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia.

The respondent described that the group had started walking from the Bosnian town of Velika Kladuša at 1 a.m.. After approximately 7 hours of walking through the so-called “jungle” [forest], they encountered 2 persons in a vehicle in Ruševica near the village of Cetingrad (coordinates: 45°18’06.63 “N 15°73’23.31 “E). The respondent described the vehicle as a white transport van with “policija” written on blue stripes on the sides. The people who got out of the car were wearing blue uniforms. This suggests that they were regular Croatian police officers.

Reportedly, one police officer asked the group, how old they were. After the group responded, the officers started to check their bags. The respondent had to undress completely while the other members of the group had to show their phones and money.

“They were good policemen, they spoke good with us and after they checked us, they gave back the phone and money.”

At around 10 a.m., reinforcement arrived with 4 people, and the 2 previous police officers left. The respondent described that the arriving persons were wearing black uniforms. This description matches the uniforms normally worn by the Croatian Intervention Police officers. The Croatian Intervention Police officers arrived in vans. The interviewee described a white van without windows in the back and blue stripes with the word “Policija” written on it.

The police officers asked the group members where they wanted to go. The respondent answered that they were heading towards Italy to go to Germany.

“They were really bad, they said: ‘You wanna go to Italy?’, I told them ‘yes, Italy’, they laughed, ‘okay, come, I’m gonna bring you to Italy.’”

That being said, the police officers started to push them into the van. The inside was equipped with two benches and the respondent related that there were already 4 Afghan people inside. According to the respondent, some of these people had to throw up due to erratic car driving that went on for what felt like 3-4 hours. At 2 p.m. the van arrived at the Croatian side of the Bosnian border (44°82’55.11 “N 15°72’79.17 “E), way more south of the place where the group had entered the country. One officer told the people to leave the car, set the dogs on them, and said, “go fast, fast!”. The group crossed the border and had to walk back to Bihać for around 5 hours.