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“We didn’t understand what is happening, if we will die or what will happen to us”

Date & Time 2020-01-08
Location Ljubljana,Slovenia
Reported by No Name Kitchen
Coordinates 46.03174542, 14.47228568
Pushback from Croatia, Slovenia
Pushback to Bosnia, Croatia
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 12 - 30
Group size 40
Countries of origin Afghanistan, Pakistan
Treatment at police station or other place of detention detention, fingerprints taken, photos taken, personal information taken, papers signed, denial of food/water
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved unknown
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, pushing people to the ground, insulting, gunshots, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings, burning of personal belongings
Police involved Slovenia: 4 civil police, 1 car, 5 or 6 police officers in black uniforms, 20-25 officers at police station. Croatia: 2 police cars, 2 van, at least 8 police officers, dog with muzzle. BiH: 1 police car, wearing black uniforms

The chain pushback which this testimony concerns happened nearly a month before the testimony was collected.

The primary respondent for this report described being part of a group of around 45 people-on-the-move. In the group, approximate ten of the group-members were from from Pakistan and the others were from Afghanistan. The respondent specified that there was at least one 12-year-old boy, but there were another approximately 20 minors. After a number of days crossing from Bosnia through the Croatia, they entered into Slovenian territory and made their way to the capital city of Ljubljana. They were then picked up by Slovenian authorities in Ljubljana, on a wide street, close to a small park.

The approximate area where the group described being apprehended by Croatian authorities

“There were a lot of minors, but they still didn’t give them stay. They speak: This camp full.”

The respondent described that were apprehended by four civilian police officers. They called for back-up and after around 15 minutes, five or six officers in black uniforms arrived to the scene. This happened at around 7:00 in the evening on August 1st. The officers in black uniforms then brought the group to a police station which they arrived to around 8:00 pm or 9:00 pm.

The police officers put somewhere between 15 to 20 of the group-members in one room, with a speaker and a camera inside to communicate. After three hours of waiting, around midnight, they received dry bread and a bottle of water. When asking for more food in the morning the answer was: “No food, go back.”

At the police station there was a Panjab translator, who spoke to the group in Pashto and Punjabi. The respondent described that during this initial procedure, his personal data was taken, such as his mother’s and his father’s names and his pictures and fingerprints. He told the translator that he was 17 but when he later got a paper from the police it said 22 years old on it.

The group-members allegedly spent two nights and a full day in the police station, for a total of approximately 30 hours. After this, in the morning, the group was brought by Slovenian authorities to the Croatian border and transferred to Croatian custody. On the Croatian site they were awaited with 2 police vehicles and 2 vans. Apparently, the Croatian police had a dog with a muzzle, that they did not use.

The people-on-the-move were loaded into these vehicles [around 20 to 25 persons in each van] and began a long journey to the border with Bosnia-Herzegovina. This process was described as taking an unusually long time – between 5 and 8 hours. The pushback took place on a dirt road, one side was forested and there was one house that the respondent could see. At the border the Croatian police officers stole their phones, powerbanks and money and made them undress to their underwear. They burned their clothes and shoes. The police hit the respondent and his friends with their hand, batons and kicking them. When the Croatian police told him to go towards the border he was shoved from behind and fell to the ground.

The respondent said: “We didn’t understand what is happening, if we will die or what will happen to us”. They were afraid for their life’s.

After walking one hour into BiH territory, the BiH police came and fired their guns into the air. They arrived with one car and were wearing black uniforms. They beat the people-on-the-move again and told them to go to camp. It took the group almost two days, without easy access to food or water, to arrive to the Bosnian city of Bihać.