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They told us we would rest and eat for 3 days, but then they put us in prison for 20 days.

Date & Time 2023-12-31
Location Bácsszentgyörgy, Hungary
Reported by Collective Aid
Coordinates 45.985049717339, 19.071098939688
Pushback from Hungary
Pushback to Serbia
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved no
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 20 - 30
Group size 9
Countries of origin Afghanistan, Syria, Turkish
Treatment at police station or other place of detention detention, photos taken, papers signed, denial of food/water, Strip search
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved
Violence used kicking, insulting, Throwing explosives
Police involved 11 Hungarian police officers with blue uniforms. 3 Serbian police officers at the Hungarian border and 9 Serbian police officers at the court. 2 Italian police officers with a black uniform and an Italian and an EU logo on it.

On the 31th of December, a group of 9 people-on-the-move attempted to cross the Serbian-Hungarian border. The respondents, 3 adult men from Afghanistan, were there already for 10 days. In total there were 6 Afghans, 2 Turkish and one Syrian men. They were between 20 and 30 years old.  At around 4 p.m. the group of 9 people crossed the border by jumping over the fence. After walking approximately 200 meters, the Hungarian police came and arrested them at 4 in the afternoon.

The respondents reported that there were 2 individuals wearing blue uniforms that can resemble the uniforms of Hungarian police officers. The officers made a call and after 10 minutes, 9 more police officers came. They were wearing a blue uniform. The officers stood around them and were taking pictures and videos of the group. The transit group were put in a van and the police drove them to the border. There they were handed over to Serbian border police. According to the respondent there were 3 individuals wearing uniforms that resemble the Serbian police officers and two Italian police officers. The Italian officers were wearing a black uniform with an Italian and an EU logo on it. The Serbian police screamed at them, asked them who spoke English and asked them questions about who they were and how they got through the border. The officer who asked the questions beat the respondent who spoke English an answered the questions. On e of the respondent claimed that the officer beat him in his face with his fist. It lasted a few minutes. After the questioning, the group was put in a small van and were driven to Subotica. Then, the Italian officers drove behind them in another car. They left after a while.

In Subotica they were taken to a police station. The group was put together in one small cell. There was one toilet in the cell. They stayed there overnight without getting any food. The next day, the respondents reported that the Serbian police took them to a court in Subotica. There were 2 judges and a translator. The translator didn’t speak Arabic, only Turkish. 9 police officers waited outside the room while the judges asked them questions and asked the group to sign forms. They weren’t told what they were signing. The translator told the group that they would be brought to a refugee camp. After this, the group was brought into the police van again. The officers closed the door and threw explosives to the van. The respondents explain how they heard explosions and saw smoke around. Another police car came. There were also Serbian police officers. When the respondents asked them where they would go, these officers told them they would go to a prison for 2 or 3 days to rest and eat. The officers told them after that they would be free and brought to a refugee camp.

They drove to Prokuplje where they were brought into a prison. The group had to sign documents again. The group had to take their clothes off and they were strip searched. The group was brought to a cell where they stayed with in total 11 people. No one told them how long they had to stay there, even though they asked several times. They stayed there in total for 20 days. This whole time they weren’t allowed to get out of the cell. When they asked for fresh air, the guards told them ‘tomorrow,’ but they never went outside. There was one small window in the room which couldn’t be opened. The respondents claimed that there was approximately 3 meters free space in the room, which was occupied by a table. There was no shower, only a toilet and a water tap.

One respondent fell from a bunk bed with his leg on the edge of another bed. It gave him a big wound. He asked for a doctor several times. Every time the guards told him ‘tomorrow,’ but the doctor didn’t come. After several days the doctor did come, but told him the wound would heal by itself. Another respondent got wounds from scabies. The doctor gave him ointment that was out of date. The respondent asked for something else several times because the ointment didn’t help. The doctor didn’t give him anything else.

Both respondents still have the wounds at the moment the testimony is taken.

There were two people in the cell which the respondents didn’t know. One day they fought over food. The guards brought them outside and the guards beat them with batons for approximately 5 minutes. The respondents were able to see the beating from their cell. The men had bruised when they came back.

The group asked for a phone several times. Two times they were allowed to make a call of 20 minutes.

After 20 days, the group of 9 people we brought to a camp close to Presêvo.

The video and the police car picture were taken on the way to the detention center.