The respondent is a 37-year-old man from Afghanistan. He is constantly trying ‘the game’ to join his wife and children who are also separated from each other – some are in Slovenia and some in Croatia. The reported incident was his 19th pushback. The man left Velika Klaudsa (BiH) trying to reach Slovenia together with 14 other people from Afghanistan. Amongst them were minors who are 17, 16, 10, and 7 years old.
The group did manage to reach Slovenia after 8 days of walking. They had just crossed the Kolpa river, which marks the border between Croatia and Slovenia when the Slovenian police approached them. At this point, it was around 6 a.m. There were four male and one female officer wearing dark blue uniforms. The moment they were approached and surrounded, the people were asked to hand over their personal belongings: phones, power banks, wallets. These were all put in a plastic bag and taken by the Slovenian police officers. Then the group was loaded in a white van with a blue stripe.
They were driven 4 hours to a police station though the respondent does not recall exactly where since he was not able to see anything from the police van. He recalls having been driven for four hours before reaching a small police station with three or four rooms that the respondent assumes was at the border between Slovenia and Croatia.
In the police station, there were about 8 police officers all wearing dark blue uniforms. The group was given some food and had to do a rapid covid-19 test. After, their pictures and fingerprints were taken. Finally, the group was obliged to sign papers written in Slovenian with no translation. After being detained for almost one whole day in the Slovenian police station the group was again loaded in the white police van at around 5 a.m.
“They give paper. I ask him what this is. He said please sign it no problem. I again say I don’t know to read them. I ask but no reply. We have lessons when they take fingerprints it means stay. So, we were feeling happiness. But it didn’t happen. When we get deport and we understand it is deportation paper, we are all feeling very bad. There is this… feeling of depression in our head.”
Inside the van, the group was subjected to 4 hours of reckless driving, with several people throwing up. They were knocking at the wall that separates the back of the van with the drivers, to ask the drivers to stop, without success. When the van finally stopped at the Croatian-Slovenian border, the Slovenian Police waited for the Croatian Police officers who showed up only a couple of minutes later. Hence, the people were moved from one van to the other. The Croatian police officers were wearing a light blue uniform and had a white police van with “policija” written on it in blue. The Slovenian police officers handed the plastic bag with the PoM-s personal belonging to the Croatian Police officers and left.
Then the group was driven again for 3 hours to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. When they reached the Bosnian-Croatian border in the proximity of Velika Kladusa, BiH there were three Croatian police officers wearing black uniforms and black balaclava masks covering their faces. According to the respondent’s description of the uniforms, could be that these officers belong to the Interventna Policije.
“When we got down the car, they make us go one by one. I ask for my phone, but they pushed me to the ground, took off my shoes, and started to kick me on the foot with the shoe!”
The Croatian Intervention police did not give the people their personal belongings back (which prior, Slovenian officers had handed over to the Croatian officers), but instead took their shoes and threw them in the forest. Then they separated the men from the women and children. The police gathered all the men and started to beat them in front of the women and children. They were beaten onto their heads, back,s and hands.
The respondent describes that he was vocal towards the police officer and was therefore targeted in particular by this violence. The respondent in fact was left with open wounds in his hand from where one can see the fresh flesh. The respondent cannot recall how exactly those injuries were caused due to the strong emotional shock and the darkness in the forest, but he recalls the police officers have taken his hands while he was trying to protect his head due to the violent beatings, and cut them with a sharp object. The respondent assumes that the officers probably used pincers. It was not until he was inside Velika Kladusa that he could see what his hand looked like.
“I am thinking to myself as I am a criminal. I am not criminal I don’t come here to make a problem. I am just a migrant, what was my sin? My purpose was to reach my family no other. So why are you do this to us? What kind of justice is this? I feel I will die in this challenge”
After having beaten the men in the group and taken all the personal belonging from the group the police officers just indicated the road to Bosnia to the group who was once again violently and illegally pushed back.