On the 26th of July in the night at around 6.00 am, a group of 6 people from Afghanistan (17, 19, 22, 23, 24, and 28 years old) was caught by Croatian authorities at a junction in the road E-71 and later pushed back into Bosnia. The respondent claims that the group members had been walking for 5 days from Bihac to that junction in E-71. At this point, they were about four days on foot away from the Slovenian border.
The respondent asserts that first, there were three police officers which were later joined by another four police officers. According to him, the authorities’ uniform was brownish-green, pointing to the presence of the Croatian Special Police (SJP) at the border.
The respondent claims that the group members were walking when they first encountered the police officers and, as the police told them to stop, the group members started to run away. But, another police officer that was hiding, started to spray pepper spray in their direction. “We ran from police but behind one tree there is other police officer, they come out and put pepper spray in our eyes”.
The respondent states that the police officers first took a picture of them before using further violence against them. After that, the respondent says that the group members were told to lay flat on the ground and that the police began to step on their backs for what the respondent perceived as 10-15 minutes. “They put the spray on us and police told us to go down and they were stepping on us”.
One of the group members presents serious injuries to both his upper extremities and the back of his neck, as a result of police violence when they were laying down. The respondent says that this group member believed he could die during the night because his head hurt extremely much. The respondent argues that, because he is bigger and seems older than the rest of the team, the police always hits him first and more heavily. “Because he is little big, maybe they understand he is the smuggler man or something”.
In addition, the respondent states that the police sprained one of the group members’ elbow with a baton. “My one friend’s arm is broken with a stick, the elbow is outside”. Moreover, the respondent has a wound in his mouth, which he claims is the result of a punch from a police officer.
“Croatia and Slovenian police are training with us as if we are terrorists, we do not have gun, why do you slap me?”
According to the respondent, the Croatian authorities took most of the groups’ belongings, such as their phones, power banks, money, etc. Furthermore, the respondent says that the authorities caught another group of 19 people and that police also used violence against them. “They broke someone’s hand and someone’s foot from another group”
“Three police catch us and give us to other police”. The three police officers the group encountered first were soon joined by other four police officers, who put the group members of both groups in two vehicles. “There was a police small car and two big cars for people”. The respondent says that there were 16 people in a car that could normally fit up to 8 people. He adds that “There is no water, no oxygen” inside the vehicle. “If there is no oxygen, there is a hard problem for us”.
The respondent claims that the group members were inside the vehicle for what they perceived as eight hours. He further affirms that the police officers were driving recklessly, not allowing the group members to sleep inside the vehicle. Furthermore, the respondent says that as the back part of the vehicle had a microphone, every time police officers heard the group members talking, they would then start driving recklessly: “If we talk to each other, the police drive and make a problem”. The respondent recalls that, during the 8h trip, the vehicle stopped once and some officers checked the car from outside, but that the group members were not taken to any police station.
The respondent claims that the police left the group close to the border in Lipa, together with other groups. “In that day there were like 80 people because they take them from many places and bring us close to Lipa”. Moreover, he claims that within them, the police also pushed back a family.
The group members were pushed back to Bosnia on the night of the 26th July to the 27th to Bosnia and had to walk for around four hours to go back to Bihac.
Furthermore, in the morning of July 28th, most of the group members were evicted from the place they were staying at in Bihac and forced to go to Lipa camp. “In the night we were deported from Croatia and in the morning police comes and bring all people to Lipa”. In the morning, the respondent claims that three Bosnian police officers came and broke their tents. He further adds that, when trying to escape from the police, one group member fell down from a second floor and has now severe injuries. The respondent says that Bosnian police took two phones, power banks, cigarettes, and money. The respondent says “I told police that they are not police, they are Ali-baba”. On the very same day, the group members walked back to Bihac and they claim that they met some Bosnian police on their way back that told them: “Go back to Lipa, why do you come to Bihac?”
“It’s like a football game from Croatia and Bosnian police and we seem like a ball, I go Croatia, some police catches us, they kick me back to this police, now they put me in Lipa”