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I was the one beaten the most because I was the only one speaking English

Date & Time 2021-07-23
Location 3 hours walking from Velika Kladuša
Reported by No Name Kitchen
Coordinates 45.17464152, 15.73680426
Pushback from Croatia, Slovenia
Pushback to Bosnia, Croatia
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved no
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 21 - 26
Group size 3
Countries of origin Afghanistan
Treatment at police station or other place of detention detention, fingerprints taken, photos taken, personal information taken, papers signed, no translator present, denial of food/water
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 14
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, pushing people to the ground, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings
Police involved 8 Slovenian border police (blue uniforms), 4 Croatian Intervention Police (black uniforms, sky masks, rifles, high boots)

The respondent is a 21-year old Afghan male, on 23rd July 2021 he and two other Afghans (21 and 26 years old) were detected hiding inside a truck at the Slovenian border crossing of Gruškovje (46°16’44.2″N 15°51’56.8″E) in the morning. Eight officers wearing blue uniforms (two women and three men) were reportedly present at the scanner checking point. These were described by the respondent as Slovenian officers, who proceeded to check their bodies and bags, and then confiscated the bags, along with their money, phones and powerbanks. The respondent stated that he and his companions had their fingerprints and pictures taken and they were asked to sign some documents in Slovenian.

The respondent reported that they asked to stay in Slovenia and the border officials replied that this was not possible because of the way they had entered.

«Only if you came walking staying is available for you, they said». The respondent repeats what the officers had told him: 

«This is one of the rules of Slovenia, if you are caught in border you cannot stay, but if you are caught inside Slovenia, they give you the possibility to stay».

The resondent reported that after around one hour the Slovenian officers called the Croatian police and subsequently two Croatian police officers identified by the respondent as municipality police, arrived in a patrol car. The possessions confiscated from the Slovenian officers were handed over and the Croatian officers subsequently drove the respondent and his companions to the official toll-police station  (Naplatna postaja Trakošćan, E59, Gornji Macelj).

There, they were reportedly asked to sign a document translated into Pastho and it was explained to them that they would be brought to Bosnia. The respondent reportedly expressed his opposition to the decision to be moved to Bosnia multiple times.

«Three times I asked to Croatian police to be deported to Serbia. They beat me and said “no Serbia, Bosnia”. I was the one beaten the most because I was the only one speaking English».

The respondent explained that normally, in previous pushbacks, he avoided speaking to the police officers in English to avoid the impression that he could be the leader (or a smuggler) of the group.

«You can’t speak English with police because, if you do, they think you are the boss of these boys and they beat you as much as they can. In front of police you have to be silent.».

The respondent stated that he was beaten by the Croatian officers with a baton and kicked, and was told to sit and stand in silence. «You sit here, don’t talk to me»

The respondent and his two companions remained at the police station for what they approximated as around 5-6 hours. He reports that they were waiting for the arrival of another group of people-on-the-move apprehended by Croatian officers in the outskirts of Zagreb. Neither food nor water was provided during their waiting time. As soon as the police van arrived at the station, with two people on board, the group of now five men started the drive to the border of Bosnia-Herzegovina, BiH.

When they were close to the border the officers stopped the car and the respondent reports that he and his companions were turned over to the supervision of a police unit that the respondent identified as the Croatian Intervention Police. The respondent recalled them wearing black uniforms, ski masks, large black leather boots and being armed with firearms. The respondent’s and his companion’s belongings and papers were reportedly handed over from to the border officers.

Then, the respondent reported that he and his companions all underwent the same procedure but individually: First, they were forced to lay on the ground, facing the soil and were then beaten by the four officers simultaneously. According to the respondent, the officers also lit a fire in which they burned their bags. After this treatment, they were chased away one by one («Go to Bosnia!»). The officers did not return their mobiles, their powerbanks nor their money (180 euro in total).

From the green border where they had been left (no precise location could be given, as they did not have their mobile phones anymore and therefore could not locate themselves anymore) they reportedly walked three hours to Velika Kladuša, BiH. They went to the bus station and asked for a ticket to Bihać, from where they wanted to reach Sarajevo to then go back to Serbia. They were refused: «I offered him twice the money of the price of a ticket and I said “why you don’t want to sell me the ticket?”. He said: “No ticket for you.»

Therefore, the respondent and his companions had to reach Bihać on foot, which took them nearly 3 days. After that they reached Sarajevo with public transportation, and then Zvornik, at the border crossing of BiH with Serbia. Only with luck they managed to cross this border and enter back into Serbia, where they had started their journey several days before. 

«There you have to run, because Serbian Police is very dangerous. Two people that were with me got caught, beaten very badly. They had to go to the hospital».