The interview with this respondent was not recorded as he did not wish for it to be. So this report is assembled from notes taken, and there are no direct quotations of his words.
The respondent is from Afghanistan and is 38 years old at the time of taking the testimony. In this attempted border crossing in February, the respondent planned his own route into the south of Croatia, near Dubrovnik.
The route began by foot from Čapljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the destination of crossing was to be Metković. They walked from Čapljina to the border, where they successfully got through. Then, they continued walking and got as far as the bus terminal before being detained.
The respondent stated that, when officers found the respondent and the other man, they shoved them into a van, hit the respondent once, confiscated all their personal belongings and drove them 20 minutes to the station. Then they left them in a dark room for three hours with no light, no food, and no access to toilets before interrogating them. There were four officers, all young men, and one van.
In detention, they interviewed the respondent in English. He speaks very good English, having lived in Germany in the past for studies and worked alongside UK forces fighting the Taliban back home. So he says translation was not an issue for him (but it was not offered). He did not say he wished to claim asylum in Croatia or the EU. He was given no right to ask questions.
The four police were all estimated by the respondent to be in their early 20s. One was in the car, and three were outside, when they took them.
After detention when they drove them back into Bosnia, the policemen reportedly punched him in the neck and back of the head in the ‘jungle‘ where they left them. Here, they also took everything; phone, money (around €2000), and water. It was very cold at this time in Bosnia and the one thing the police let them keep was their jackets and warm clothes. They had no phone so the location where the police left them in Bosnia is unknown, but they walked through the forest and along roads for eight hours until reaching their starting point, Čapljina. A man there gave them money and they got the train back to Sarajevo.
The respondent was pushed back a second time a couple of weeks later, which he also reported to us but which is detailed in a separate report. He told us also about other parts of his journey, his life story, his children, and his family. He spoke about how Croatian citizens are offered free water and energy for three months if they call the police on migrants crossing the border.
He also asked us very frank questions about BVMN, and whether we personally thought that doing this will ever change things. He was very clear that he did this for other refugees, not for himself, but he was very passionate about the political side of the injustice he has faced, saying that we must take these reports to the highest level and hold leaders accountable.