The respondent is a 19-year-old man from Afghanistan, who was pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia. His transit group consisted of three other men from Afghanistan, two of who are aged 19 and one who is 25.
The respondent recalled that they crossed into Croatia from Bihać on February 9. After entering Croatia, they walked for three days in the forest or what the respondent described as the “jungle”.
After two full days of walking, the respondent explained that they were so drained that they sat down in the woods to get some rest. At that point, they saw a group of four “Commandos” or suspected Croatian Intervention Police officers. The group started running and kept on running in the forest for approximately ten kilometres, as they were terrified of being caught. The respondent remembered that they had left their bags behind and so they had no food or water. At approximately 10 PM, they were so hungry and exhausted that they decided to head back to Bihać. He added that they could not continue on their journey without any food.
As they started walking back, a group of officers reportedly spotted them and turned on the lights of their vehicles in order to stop them. They were in the proximity of road D52, in Croatia.
The police said “Why you ran away?” I said “I was afraid you beat me”. And then, they started beating me. They so beat us. One beat me, he was kicking and boxing with gloves to hurt more. Another beat my friend. My friend is so injured in his feet.
The respondent recounted seeing approximately twenty-nine officers at the scene, all men and wearing black uniforms consistent with that of the Croatian Intervention Police. He could only see four unmarked cars that had no particular emblem or flag. He believed the suspected Intervention Police officers had been informed by the group by the four officers they had encountered in the forest about two or three hours previously. The officers confiscated all of their belongings (bags, sleeping bags, food) and broke their phones. Afterwards, at approximately 11 PM, an officer used a baton to force the transit group to sit in a car. The respondent described being crammed and sitting on each other’s laps to fit in the back of the car. In addition, the officer driving turned the air conditioning to very cold so they were freezing.
He was driving so bad and we were so cold. But he said “You ran away, now you are punished”.
The officer drove for what the respondent estimated to be about two or three hours back to Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was about 2 AM when the respondent and his friend were left in the mountains near Bihać. They reportedly walked all the way to the town and arrived early on the morning of February 12.