On the 27th April, a group of 3 people, all males from Afghanistan, aged 16, 18, and 37, was in the back of a truck when they crossed the border from Serbia to Croatia in the area of Batrovci. After passing the Serbian border crossing point, 3people that the respondent identified as Croatian officers opened the truck around 10.30am from the side, when they discovered the three group members. The officers then opened the back and made them descend the truck.
The 3 officers were described by the respondent as wearing dark blue uniforms that were fully equipped with weapons, batons, and handcuffs. One of the officers had a different sign on his uniform, which the respondent understood to be the symbol of a higher rank.
The officers took the group members to a place close to the border crossing point that was hidden from view to other people, which the respondent described as “similar to a car wash place”. There, they were ordered to sit on the ground with their heads down. For about 2.5h, they were sitting on the floor in the sun with their heads down, and whenever someone tried to look up, the officers told them to look down. According to the respondent, they asked for a toilet, which the officers first did not allow, saying that they could do “their business” there on the street. Only after three to four requests, the officers allowed them to use a toilet. Their request for water or food, however, was not granted.
During the 2.5h, one officer was guarding them, while the two others were sitting in a car that was close by. Then, reportedly, the group members were given two documents each with text both in Croatian and English, saying that they were refused entry because of a lack of documents. There was no translator present. The respondent mentioned that they were afraid that the police would use violence against them, which is why they signed the documents.
The transit group members were handed one copy of the signed documents each and then they were ordered to enter a small white van that had the word “policija” written on a blue background and protective grills over the windows. After opening a grill in the back of the van, they were ordered to sit on the metal seats and the respondent described that it was dark and very hot inside the van.
The group members spent 10 minutes in the van and, after a short ride, they were handed over to an unknown number of people that the respondent identified as Serbian officers, who released them soon after.
The respondent added to this account that “Everyone knows about the situation in Afghanistan. There need to be possibilities for people from Afghanistan to go to Europe, and to live in peace and with economic opportunities.” He had served the army in Afghanistan and collaborated with NATO forces for more than 12 years, calling for European countries to help those who had been working together with them. “We are all just in search of a better life and a way to support our families.”