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Complaint by Croatian police officers who are being urged to act unlawfully

Date 17 July, 2019
Category Press Release

After the Croatian president Grabar-Kitarović confirmed a couple of days ago that Croatian authorities are involved in illegal pushback of migrants to Bosnia & Herzegovina (“a little bit of force is needed”)1,2, another complicit voice speaks up: Croatian Ombudswoman presents an anonymous complaint by police officers that were ordered to “return everyone without papers, no traces, take money, break mobile phones or take for ourselves, and forcefully return refugees to Bosnia.” Read the whole letter and a rough English translation (thanks to Centre for peace studies Zagreb3) below.

Original letter 4, 5

English translation of the letter

“Dear Ms,
I am asking for your help because I can see that you are the only one taking legal care of refugees and other distressed people, who are treated in a bad and inhumane way every day.
I work at the police station *censored* and I have been engaged on protection of the state border for a longer while. A few of us have no more will nor power to look at what is being done to these humans. Every day we return them to Bosnia, without papers, without processing, no matter whether they are women, children, we treat everyone the same. There is no asylum, that doesn’t exist, only and if in extraordinary situations, when media are on the spot.

Orders of the chief *censored*, the executive, and the administration is to return everyone without papers, to leave no traces, to take money, break mobile phones throw into *censored*, or take for ourselves, and forcefully return refugees to Bosnia.
This is the truth about how we treat them, the police that come as extra resource units from the other police stations are especially cruel, because they are angry for being here. Moreover, they stay here shortly so they do what they want to without control. They remind me of the Janissaries, beating and stealing. This is sad, but true, and it is done with the blessings of the executives from the police station and administration.
We few policemen are especially saddened by the fact that we are encouraged and ordered to do this by the executives who should stick to the law and fight back against unawful practices, not allowing them in the police. Every day we return 20-50. When they are driven to here from the other police stations, people are exhausted, sometimes beaten up, and then it’s us who drive them during the night and forcefully pushback to Bosnia.

All sorts of stuff happen here, some police draw weapons, this is shameful for this police, and not what I imagined when I went to school.
I personally returned around 1000 people during the night, I try to be as humane as possible, but I have *censored*, if I refuse to do this I will lose my job, and how will I then feed my family. The group of us who share these views are asking you to stop this behavior and practices in the police. All that is coming from you, as well as media writings, all is correct, and very mild compared to what happens in this police station.
Also it is very sad that the police station executives, and especially the police administration mention your name in a very rude and inappropriate way, because you do not deserve this. It is not appropriate for highly educated people to call you by such names and insults. You are only doing your job in a honorable and decent way, according to legal rules and regulations, and this is how police should work too, but unfortunately, we are far from that.
We ask you again to personally engage in stopping these awful practices that could lead to tragic consequences, and nobody wants that.
We believe in you, your fairness and lawfulness of your work.

Disaffected police officers of police station *censored*