On the night of January 21st, 2024, at around midnight, 15 people from Congo – aged 22 to 45 – were apprehended by 4 individuals wearing dark blue uniforms that resembled the ones wore by Croatian border police officers in the area around Lički Osik (HR).
The respondent is a man that was in the mentioned group. He stated that his group was caught and then brought to an isolated place in the mountains to be beat up, despite they all repeatedly asked for asylum. One of the 4 men that initially approached them, according to the respondent’s point of view, was about to bring them to a transit center for asylum seekers in Croatia, but 6 other men wearing the same uniform approached them and, after a discussion between two men in the blue uniform, it was decided that the group should have been pushed back.
The men in the uniform shot in the sky with a gun and started beating up the group members, using batons and taser guns. They forced the group to lay on the ground, confiscated their phones and destroyed them. They also confiscated all the money the group members had and never gave it back, then took their clothes and bags and set fire to them. The respondent was lifted in the air by a man in the uniform and then slammed on the ground, with him resulting hurting his hand. Another group member was forced to stand barefoot in the snow for about 45 minutes, and then reported injuries in his feet.
Close to the place were this was happening, the respondent recalls to have seen three vans, two white and one blue, and he stated that one man in the uniform said that the blue one was for people who could go in the transit center in Croatia to be registered as asylum seekers, while the white ones would have been used to push them back.
They were forced to enter the white vans and after a short drive were brought to the Croatian-Bosnian border around 2.00 AM CET of January 21st 2024. They were then told to go back to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the group walked for around 20 km to reach Bihac.