On the 23rd of January 2023 four people from Morocco- aged 25-30 years old- were pushed back from Croatia to Serbia. The interview was conducted with one of them.
The respondent reports that they were walking in the forest between the Croatian cities of Tovarnik and Lovas when, at around 2 AM, some people on the road nearby saw them and- according to them- called the police. Reportedly, 10 minutes later 4 people in blue uniforms came up with two cars. The respondent identified the people wearing uniforms as Croatian police officers.
They were told to: “Sit down, sit down”. Then they recall that another big car arrived and took the respondents to a police station of which the location is unknown.
At the police station the officers took their phones and all their personal belongings, like money and medicines. They report that there was a female officer at the police station, and she gave them a total of five papers to sign: translation was not provided. She said that they had to sign them because they were illegally in the country. When the officers saw the cards they were issued inside the Serbian reception center, they brought the group to a cell inside the police station where they had to stay for a period of time they perceived as being 20 hours.
During these 20 hours of detention the group did not get any water or food. Before being brought to the cell the respondent asked for his medicine but the officers did not give it to him.
The next morning, the Croatian officers drove the group to the Serbian border and handed them over, together carrying with the what the respondent describes as a “report” (it is not clear what this document was), to two people they identified as Serbian officers. The respondent describes them as two young people wearing blue uniforms, with one blue vehicle that the respondent describes as a police van. He reports that they were brought to the Court in Šid, that is situated in front of the police station.
Once there, they were brought in front of a judge, and a translator was provided. Reportedly, the judge asked some questions like: “what’s your name?”, “where are you from?”, “where are you going?”, “what’s your family situation?”. The group was told that they had to choose between paying a fine consisting of 70€ each or going to jail for about 10 days. At that point, they decided to pay the fine, even though they did not know why they had to pay that money.
Eventually, all their personal belongings were returned to the group and they were brought to the principal reception center in Šid after the court hearing.
At the end of the interview the respondent explains:
We need a chance. We don’t do any trouble in the camp, in the roads, we steal nothing, we are peaceful. I respect. I respect the country, I respect the people, I respect the culture. I’m peaceful. I know I need to respect everyone here because I’m here illegal. I have a purpose. […] I have a dream. I need to go to European Union and work and complete my studies. So I hope I will do it.