On the 4th of December, around 4 am, a group of 17 people was apprehended by Croatian authorities and subsequently pushed back to Bosnia in the area of Velika Kladusa, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. The group was composed of two families and several single men.
The respondent describes that the group was walking in the forest and that after they crossed a river in Croatian territory, they saw some officers waiting for them. The respondent supposes the use of technology by the officers to detect their presence:
“They were waiting for us, during the night they have night vision or something”
In total he remembers the presence of 4 police officers, 3 men, 1 woman, and 1 five-seat car. The respondent describes the uniform as being dark blue with “EPZ” written the shoulders. This matches the uniforms worn by the Croatian Intervention police. The respondent asserts that the group expressed the will to apply for asylum to the police officers several times, but reportedly the latter only replied with jokes:
“Yeah, don’t worry, we can bring you taxi, we can drop you in Italy. Don’t worry we are gonna give you stay in Italy”.
The respondent describes that the 4 officers called their colleagues on the phone phone who later arrived with 2 white police vans. The respondent was unable to recall the number of the police officers in the vans but relates that they were wearing the same dark blue uniforms.
The respondent describes that the police officer ordered the group members to hand over their phones, power banks, and other valuables and to remove their clothes so they could search them. The respondent also points out that, in order to urge a member of the group to undress faster an officer kicked him in his genitals:
“There were singles boys as well, one of them they kick in the genitals, he was trying to remove the jacket, because they are like you know, after remove everything they want to check your body, do it faster faster”.
Furthermore, the respondent describes that to walk to the two vans the officers instructed the group to form a line and while they were walking one officer kicked a 14-year-old on the back to tell him to go faster.
The respondent claimed that all the group members entered in 1 van:
“We enter in only one van, it was not enough for 20 people but, you know, we all stand in there, for like 1 hour and half”
Once the van stopped at a location along the green border, the group was pushed back to Bosnia, in the area of Velika Kladusa. They arrived there after 1, 5 hours of driving at around 6 am. The respondent describes that at the border there were 6 policemen, with the 2 vans and the 1 car described earlier. Two police officers standing next to the doors of the van yelling at the group members to quickly cross the border with Bosnia.
The respondent also recalls that at the border the police officers gave them back the belonging they had previously taken:
“they took out everything from the bag, they took the power banks and the mobile phones, but they give them back at the border; we have to call someone to pick us here, we have a 9month years old, last time we went they took the phone, and they didn’t’ returned”.