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They (the officers) told us to stay on the floor.

Date & Time 2022-07-31
Location Near Velika Kladuša (near Smerkovac)
Reported by Blindspots
Coordinates 45.16944397, 15.81047149
Pushback from Croatia
Pushback to Bosnia
Taken to a police station no
Minors involved no
WLTI* involved yes
Men involved yes
Age unknown
Group size 8
Countries of origin Congo
Treatment at police station or other place of detention
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 5
Violence used no violence used
Police involved 5 Croatian officers (dark blue uniforms with 3 or 1 yellow star), 1 with white shirt (intervention police), 1 white van

The respondent was a man in his thirties, who was part of a group of 8 persons, 5 men and 3 women. There were all from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The group started from Velika Kladusa. They walked, as the respondent describes, six days: “On a dormir 5 nuits dans les broussailles” (We slept 5 nights in the bushes). According to the respondent, they crossed hill areas but also mountains: “Nous sommes marchés des collins, des collins, des collins” (We crossed hill and hill and hill). There was a violent storm over this part of Croatia at the time. The people were scared that the trees would fall or a lightning strike could hit a tree or themselves. It rained heavily and they were very cold.

According to the respondent they had crossed almost 2/3 of Croatia when they passed through a small town. They were around 40 minutes walk from crossing Highway 23.

Then they were apprehended by 3 Croatian officers in dark blue uniforms. One had three stars on this shoulder and the others one yellow star. “Ils nous ont dit de rester parterre”. (They told us to stay on the floor). The officer with three yellow stars was making a call. He was asking from which country the transit group were coming. The respondent stated that they told him Congo, and begged him to let them continue their route as they wanted to go to Zagreb to ask for asylum. According to the respondent, there was no response. The officer checked their bags, but they didn’t take anything out except the group’s phones. After the calls he made he reportedly told them to get into the police car, which the respondent described as white with bars inside.

According to the respondent, the transit group was then driven back to the border. When they got out of the car, there were two other police officers wearing dark blue uniforms. One reportedly had a stick, and threatened the group with it. The respondent recounted that he asked them why they did that and why they didn’t have mercy, but that they ignored his question. They gave us back their bags and phones, and then reportedly told the group to go and pointed in one direction. The transit group walked in the indicated direction and crossed the border back to Bosnia.