The respondent is a 23-year-old man from Algeria, who was pushed back from Croatia to Serbia.
On the morning of January 12th 2022 the respondent, along with two other men from Algeria, crossed the border from Bosnia into Croatia by foot, just outside of the town of Velika Kladuša. The group reportedly walked for about ten hours before they took a bus to the capital of Croatia, Zagreb.
According to the respondent, once in the capital the men bought a ticket and boarded a bus bound for Slovenia. Before reaching the outskirts of Zagreb, the respondent reported that the bus was stopped by some officers. The respondent recognised them as Croatian police officers based on their uniform and the language spoken. He explained that they entered and took the three men from Algeria off the bus, along with six men in their 20s from Pakistan. The respondents think it is probable that the bus drivers phone the police when they suspect someone might be a person on the move. Once off the bus, the officers reportedly handcuffed the nine men and put them in the back of a large white van with a blue stripe on the side.
The officers drove the nine men to a nearby police station and held them in detention for approximately five hours. The respondent explained that during this time they were denied food and water. The officers photographed the men and took their information; names, ages, nationalities and how they arrived in Zagreb. When the men asked to seek asylum the respondent reported that the office simply said nothing.
“We ask asylum. He no say no. He no say nothing.”
After approximately five hours of detainment, the officers reportedly presented the men with papers and told them to sign them. No translator was provided, and no copies were provided in a language the men could read. The respondent recalled that the officers told the nine men that the papers were for travelling through Europe. After all nine had signed the papers the officers once again loaded them into a similar large white van with a blue stripe on the side.
They drove for what the respondent felt was around three hours before the van stopped and the back was opened by a group of people dressed in all black, with black ski masks covering their faces. This description corresponds to that of the uniforms worn by the Croatian Intervention Police. The respondent could not recall the exact location but that it was at the Serbian border near Tovarnic, Croatia, so although the group entered Croatia from Bosnia, they were brought to Serbia instead. At the pushback site, the officers in black instructed the men to hand over everything they had with them, phones, power banks and money. The officers then reportedly made them get out, one at a time and beat the men using their fists and boots, as well as kicking them once they were on the ground. After the officers beat each man, the respondent described that they then told them to cross the border into Serbia.
“They [the officers] said ‘you come,’ then they beat, then ‘you come,’ then they beat. One by one.”
Once the nine men had crossed into Serbia, the respondent reported that a group of Serbian officers in blue uniforms approached them and electrocuted them with tasers. The officers did not instruct them to leave or arrest the men, they simply electrocuted them and left them on the ground.
Eventually, the men made their way to Sid and then decided to travel back to Velika Kladuša in Bosnia and Herzegovina.