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"It's like you're being robbed, that's how they search our belongings for money and valuables"

Date & Time 2021-02-24
Location Near Velika Kladuša, Bosnia
Reported by No Name Kitchen
Coordinates 45.15601121, 15.77358064
Pushback from Croatia
Pushback to Bosnia
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 13 - 30
Group size 5
Countries of origin Afghanistan
Treatment at police station or other place of detention detention, denial of food/water
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 9
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, forcing to undress, theft of personal belongings
Police involved 4 Croatian officers in green uniforms, 2 Croatian officers in black uniform, 3 Croatian officers in light green uniform with black ski masks, 1 municipal police van, and 1 black van with no windows

On a Monday, around the second or third week of February (exact date unknown), a group of 5 men, including 2 minors (both 13 years old), all from Afghanistan, started their journey from Šturlić, Bosnia.

After nine days of walking, around 15 meters away from the E65 highway on Croatian territory, the group was stopped by 4 Croatian men wearing light green uniforms. The respondent described this group as “Commandos”. They were ordered to stop and wait on the side of the road until the municipal police arrived. The respondent claimed that they had to wait on the side of the road in the cold for approximately 2 hours before a police vehicle arrived. After a quick search, the group was reportedly transferred to a nearby police station.

In the police station, the clothes of all the group members were removed, and everyone was reportedly strip-searched thoroughly. The respondent described that their belongings and all the pockets of their clothes were also searched thoroughly by the officers.

“it’s like you are being robbed, that’s how they search your belongings and pockets, looking for any amount of money they can find”

Afterwards, one officer reportedly punched the respondent in the chest and kicked him on his foot. All group members were then transferred to a small room inside the police station. The respondent claims that the room, which had concrete flooring, barely measured 5 square meters. The group was not provided with either blankets or their jackets.

At some point, the respondent tried to ask for water for the minors in the group, but his request was denied. The second time he requested water and food from their own backpacks, an officer reportedly entered the room and kicked him in the stomach.

“the place was a police station, but the condition and how it looked like was like a prison, you wouldn’t even want to keep an animal in there”

After almost 4 hours, at around 12 am, 5 people entered the room, 3 of them wore light green uniforms and ski masks, therefore the respondent described them as ‘commandos’. Allegedly, the authorities were carrying sticks, that were described by the respondent as “sticks that shepherds carry”. The other 2 officers wore black uniforms and no masks.

All group members were then taken into a black van without any windows, and after what felt like 2 hours in the car, they arrived at the Croatian-Bosnian border at around 2 am.

Their shoes, jackets, jumpers, backpacks, phones, power banks, and money were, reportedly, not returned to any of the group members.

They were pushed back to Bosnia in what the respondent described as a very muddy road, with mountains on both sides. Initially, the group was not able to find their way until they were guided and helped by a few locals. To get back to the place where they were staying, they had to cross deep waters, until they arrived at Miral camp near Velika Kladuša at around 11 am the next day.