On Thursday 3rd of February 2022 at approximately 1 pm the transit group, consisting of three men, all from Afghanistan, was pushed back from Croatian territory (45.211957, 16.016191) to Bosnia.
The respondent is a 24-year-old man from Afghanistan. On February 2nd at approximately 3 pm, the respondent and two of his friends, aged 20 and 22, took a bus to the town of Vrnograč near the Bosnian-Croatian border. After walking for an estimated three hours, the group held out for a while near the Bosnian-Croatian border, crossing it at a time when they expected there to be less police presence. The respondent recalled that they crossed the border to Croatia at roughly 11 pm on a small road in a forested area.
According to the respondent, while the transit group was on their way to Glina, the nearest small town from where they wanted to catch a bus, they had to hide twice from what the respondent described as “passing police cars” in nearby bushes. The respondent stated that they reached Glina at approximately 5 am. They took shelter and slept in an empty building for a few hours until 9 am. Since the bus at 10.30 am left earlier than the transit group expected, they had to wait another two hours for the next bus at 12.30 pm.
The respondent explained that within these two hours, he and his transit group members got apprehended. He stated that a black Renault Clio was parked in front of the house where they were hiding and three men in civil clothes got out and came into the empty building. The respondent was asked first, in Croatian, how he was doing. After he answered “Dobro, dobro“, one of the men asked where the respondent was from. When he answered that he was from Afghanistan, the man took out a badge (no further description) and said that he was a police officer and that he had to make the group leave Croatia.
The respondent stated that he and his friends were then patted down and had to hand over all of their personal belongings. When the policeman said: “Don’t worry, I’m not a thief, I will give you the phone back“, he put the respondent’s phone, power bank, cigarettes and lighter in a plastic bag. Immediately, the respondent stated to have asked about permanent stay: “I want to stay here”, whereupon the police officer laughed at him and told him that he knew since the respondent was trying to get a bus, he would not seriously want to stay in Croatia.
Next, the respondent said, the officer made a phone call. The respondent suspected that he was calling what the respondent referred to as the “deport car”, described as a “white big car, with the iron in the windows, and a blue stripe”. This description matches with the prisoner transport vans used by the Croatian border police. The prisoner transport van arrived around 12.30 pm and the transit group was asked to get in.
In addition to the two officers in the transport vehicle, the respondent stated that there were five other officers in dark uniforms with firearms and batons by their bodies, and “normal police cars” waiting at the pushback location, which they reached at around 1 pm. There the respondent was given back the plastic bag with all his personal belongings and told to return to Bosnia by walking in the indicated direction.
The respondent was able to indicate the rough coordinates of the pushback location (45.211957, 16.016191). Since they were pushed back to a location between the border town of Bojna and Velika Kladuša, they decided to return to their starting point, Velika Kladuša by foot. The respondent said that they returned at approximately 6 pm.