A group of nine adult males and minors – 8 from Afghanistan, aged 21, 14, 28, 19, 22, 18, with two of unknown ages, and one man from Pakistan aged 32 – were apprehended along a road in Slovenia approximately 6km from the Slovenian-Italian border at approximately 01:00 by eight Slovenian police officers wearing black trousers and dark blue t-shirts. The interviewee – a 21 year old man from Afghanistan – does not recall the precise date his group was apprehended or the date of the pushback from Slovenia to Croatia because, as his testimony relates, he was incredibly disoriented after days of walking in the forest. For this reason, this report will describe both pushbacks – from Slovenia to Croatia and from Croatia to Bosnia – but the summary above describes the Croatian pushback, as the interviewee was able to provide more specific information about this pushback.
As mentioned, the group were first apprehended in the middle of the night in Slovenia by eight officers. In the group of police officers who attended on the scene, there was one female police officer who asked questions of the group, such as; why they have come into Slovenia? where they are going? The Slovenian police then took their belongings: trousers, shirts, clothes, phones, money, but they did not take their backpacks. They spent about 20 minutes with the police along the road then were driven to the police station, where they spent a short amount of time. At the police station, they were given small amounts of bread and water but they stated it was not enough for them, especially after travelling so long from Bosnia.
At the police station, the respondent made a verbal request for asylum. The police told him that he cannot stay. The police gave him a sheet of paper for him to fill out with his information; this piece of paper was translated into Pashto so the respondent was able to read it and understand it. Then the police handed him a sheet of paper in Slovenian that was not translated. The police told him to sign the piece of paper which they stated is important for any asylum request. However, the respondent did not believe the police and believed the officers want him to sign a piece of paper that actually expressed desire to leave Slovenia.
The respondent declined to sign the piece of paper but was then beaten by a Slovenian police officer. The police beat him until he signed this piece of paper. The respondent states that the Slovenian police later handed this piece of paper to the Croatian police. After a short amount of time in the police station, the police drove the group to the Croatian-Slovenian border, which was about one hour’s drive from the police station. The drive to the border was described as awful: the group of nine was put in one van that had “no oxygen” and some people vomitted and fainted. They were handed to the Croatian police, the same day as they were found on Slovenian territory. There were around five male Croatian police officers wearing dark blue t-shirts and black pants, and one female Croatian police officer wearing the same uniform.
Once the group was handed over to the Croatian police at what the respondent described as the “official immigration” place at the border, the Croatian police beat the group. When the 14 year-old minor in the group showed the police a piece of paper from the camp he is registered in in Bosnia that shows his age and that he is a minor, the police told him that they do not believe him and beat him.
The Croatian police then put the group into a police van and drove for what the respondent said felt like 09:00 to 21:00. The police drove through the “jungle” in a way meant to purposefully disorient the men, according to the interviewee. They drove around the same locations multiple times and drove through the forest.
The group was pushed back into Bosnia the day of July 28th at approximately 21:00 at night. At the border, there were three regular Croatian police officers, wearing dark blue t-shirts and black trousers, and ten police officers clad in all black, whose uniforms matched the Interventna units. The respondent describes these officers as big and muscular and that they wore black face masks. The respondent states that he has been pushed back so much that he sometimes recognizes the same police officers at the border near Velika Kladuša, but this time he did not recognize the police officers.