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They used pepper spray on our 8 years old daughter

Date & Time 2023-04-24
Location In the forest close to Subotica, Serbia
Reported by Collective Aid
Coordinates 46.185537698635, 19.694108042603
Pushback from Hungary
Pushback to Serbia
Taken to a police station no
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 8 - 35
Group size 2
Countries of origin Syria
Treatment at police station or other place of detention
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 7
Violence used pepper spray, forcing people (including child) to walk next to car, denial of water (child), Depriving people of right to use phone
Police involved 4 Hungarian police officers, 2 police cars

The respondents of this pushback report were a Syrian couple, a woman and a man, who were traveling together with their two daughters, 8 and 9 years old.

The father and the older daughter experienced a pushback from Hungary to Serbia between 6 -7pm on the 24th of April, while the mother and the younger child were prevented from crossing.

First we spoke to the woman, who reported that they were together with about 6 more people, all Syrian men. They tried to cross the border near the city of Subotica. When getting to the border fence, the family was separated as the father and the older daughter managed to climb over the fence, while the mother and the younger daughter coming in behind were apprehended by 3 people in uniforms, who they identified as Serbian police officers. According to the respondent, the police officers used pepper spray against the mother, as well as against the 8 years old daughter. She described that when the pepper spray was used on her, she went to the ground and couldn’t see anymore. She was very scared for her daughter to faint and lose consciousness when they used pepper spray on her. She described hearing the police officers laugh at them when being on the ground and unable to see. After a while, the officers let them go and, together with the group, she went back to their unofficial living site not knowing the whereabouts of her husband and her other daughter.

Afterwards, we took the testimony of her husband. He reported that, shortly after crossing the border, he and his daughter were apprehended by 4 men in uniforms in two vehicles. He identified them as Hungarian police officers – which he confirmed again while seeing gallery pictures he was shown during the interview. Some of the officers were reportedly wearing ski masks. According to the respondent, him and his 9 years old daughter were forced to walk for approximately 2,5km alongside the police cars. After these 2,5km they were made to enter one of the cars and were driven back to the border with Serbia. During the car ride, he was not allowed to call his wife, even though the daughter was crying badly for her mother. Further, he reported he was denied permission to get water out of his own bag to give to his daughter to drink.