On 10th September 2021, 4 Afghan men between the ages of 23-25 attempted to cross the Serbia-Croatia border by walking through the forests just north of the Batrovci-Bajakovo border crossing. The men successfully crossed the border and slept in the forest after walking for 8 hours from Adasevci Refugee Camp. They then continued walking for 2 days, sleeping in the forest each night.
On Sunday 12th September the men reached some forest just south of Rastovica. Here they rested, as one respondent had injured his foot and the group had finished all of their supplies of food and water. At around 8 am in the morning of Monday 13th September the men were awoken by two police officers striking them, one with a baton and one with fists. One respondent was struck around 15 times on his left arm, 2 times to the right arm, and once to the inside leg. The officer also held him by the shoulders while striking him twice to the buttocks. All of the group suffered injuries, ranging from small to extensive bruising. The police officers were described as wearing light blue uniforms, consistent with the Croatian Granicna Policija.
After the beating, the officers began searching the men. They asked “you have euro? Give me money” while frisking the men’s genital areas, legs, arms and shoes. One of the men had 20 euros, which the officers took. All of their mobile phones were taken, and their ID cards were burned with a lighter. The police officers spoke only in broken English, and no interpreters were provided for the group’s native languages – Farsi and Pashtu. For this reason dialogue between the officers and the group was not possible.
After the beating, the men were pushed into the back of a van, which was described as small, white, and without police markings. They were then driven to a dirt road just north of the Batrovci crossing, arriving at around 9:30 am. The police officers opened the door of the van, shining their torches in the men’s faces to blind them and striking them again with their batons. The men were instructed to walk back across the border to Serbia, which they then did. They then walked 3 hours back to Adasevci camp.