The respondent reports being pushed back by Croatian authorities from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina on the 24th of April 2022, together with 19 others, including families and children.
The respondent and three of his friends tried crossing the border with families from Afghanistan. The group included children aged between two and seven years. They started in Velika Kladuša at 4 am on the 24th of April, walking towards Croatia through the forest and crossing mountains. Once they reached a certain point in Croatia after walking for about three to four hours, the respondent texted the International Organisation of Migration (IOM). This was at about 8 am. IOM asked the group if there were any minors involved and if they could send their location so that IOM can send cars to drive them to a camp in Zagreb. However, one hour after sending the location to IOM the police arrived, as the respondent describes it. The respondent assumes that IOM shared their location with the police since they should not have known this place.
“Three times we did like this. But he (IOM) doesn’t come. Liar.”
The respondent has tried contacting and asking IOM for help three times and reported that they never did help them. After the officers had arrived at the site they had to sit in the rain for three hours. This time the respondent did not mention that he spoke English, since the last time he got beaten whenever they found out that he spoke English; apparently, they then assumed that he was a boss.
“If I say I speak English, they beat me.”
This left the group without a proper translator since the officers did not have one and the other person in the group only knew a few words of English. While the group sat outside in the rain the officers took everything from the people, including their cigarettes, phone cable, power banks, and 12 phones. Although the police told the group that they would give them asylum and bring them to a camp in Zagreb. However, they still pushed them back to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
After those three hours outside, the officers drove the group to what the respondent describes as a police station, a 10-minute drive away. However, the group did not leave the car. The respondent saw the officers picking up some papers. He described the time in the car as torture.
“In the car no oxygen, no window, no nothing.”
They spent what felt like four hours in the car. Those four hours also included the drive to the border. There was a five months pregnant woman in the group, that started to feel pain during the drive to the border. However, the officers – though made aware of it – did not care about the state of the woman. Reportedly they started joking about her.
“She feel pain, but police laughing, joking about it.”
At the border, one woman started crying. The police then threatened to hurt her with a spray can, the respondent did not know what kind of spray. Most likely it was pepper spray.
“If you don’t go back, I put to your face this spray.”
In general, the respondent described the mood as very miserable. He said that everybody was crying, families and children. The total time spent with the authorities was about seven hours. And the group got pushed back at around 4 – 5 pm the same day they started.