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All people should be allowed to move freely

Date & Time 2019-06-24
Location Kutina, Croatia
Reported by Border Violence Monitoring Network
Coordinates 45.0327611, 16.19496089
Pushback from Croatia
Pushback to Bosnia
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved no
WLTI* involved yes
Men involved yes
Age 24 - 28
Group size 3
Countries of origin Algeria
Treatment at police station or other place of detention no translator present, questioning
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 6
Violence used exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, destruction of personal belongings, reckless driving
Police involved 2 police officers, 1 police vehicle. According to description one of the officers had police uniform with 2 stars on the shoulder emblem: senior police inspector, the other police officer was in civil clothes.

A small group of 3 Algerian friends (age 24, 25, 26) started their journey from Sarajevo, where they spent a couple of days resting in a friendly hostel after their first failed attempt to cross Croatian border. During the time in hostel they managed to regain focus so they made a new plan for the crossing and decided to go to Banja Luka by a bus on June 23. After they arrived to Banja Luka they waited until the nightfall, payed for taxi and arrived in Gradiška around 1:00AM.

From there they continued their journey on foot, covered by the night. The group was aware that river Sava is too dangerous to swim across so they searched for a boat along the coast.

After some time the group managed to find a small port with a few boats. At first they felt defeated as almost every boat was chained, but they eventually found an unchained boat. They rowed across the river and managed to get across the border around 3:00AM.

After they crossed the border they walked in the forest for about 20 kilometers and at 6:30AM they decided to take a break and change clothes. They threw away all their extra clothing and equipment in attempt to keep low profile and not to attract too much attention from the local population as their plan involved riding the train. Since they walked in the forest near the river they suffered injuries from mosquito bites.

After a short break, the group went to Draganići and bought three tickets for the train to Zagreb for 77 Kuna, approximately around 17 euros per ticket. The train arrived at 9:00AM and the group entered the train. Since only one of the group members spoke English, the conductor was suspicious and the respondent believed that the conductor was the one that contacted the police. They fell asleep soon after the conductor left.

The next thing that they remember is being awoken by a voice asking for identification. Two police officers entered the train at the Kutina station at 10:00AM. The local police patrol consisted of one male officer in civilian clothes and the other officer was a female wearing the police uniform with 2 stars on the shoulder emblem. From the given description she could have been a senior police inspector.

They apprehended the group and took them off the train and into the police vehicle. The respondent said that the driving was normal, that the air conditioning was on, and the respondent also said that they drove for about 20 minutes until they arrived at the police station.

When they arrived to the police station they were allowed to use the toilet and to drink water, and then they were questioned inside the police office about their intentions, routes, and where they came from.

The respondent said that they didn’t ask for asylum and that officers didn’t take their fingerprints. After that a second police team was called to come and pick them up. The respondent said that the local police called the “border police”.

After one hour in the local police station the second police team arrived driving a white and blue van. They were pushed inside the van by four police officers, three men and one woman. There were other people in the van as well – two women, two Egyptian males and 3 Algerians. The respondent wasn’t sure about their age but he was certain that one woman was pregnant.

The van had no open windows and no air conditioning and respondent said that he believed the driving was deliberately reckless. They drove up a windy mountain road and the pregnant woman started vomiting. No water was given to them at any point.

At this point, respondent got angry because the pregnant woman was treated badly.

“They are all racists”, he said, “ The Croatian police officers are racists, you can’t treat a pregnant woman like that”

The respondent said that he doesn’t know when they arrived at the location in the mountains near border and that the location where they stopped had no phone signal. The respondent said the location was near Glodina, a village in Bosnia, but on Croatian side of border.

Three male and one female officer took them out of the van, trashed their phone connectors and told them to ‘go.’ They had to walk around five hours to Bosanska Otoka stopping by a river which was on their way to drink and refresh themselves. They arrived to Bosanska Otoka at 7:00PM.

In Bosanska Otoka they managed to get into the train and went back to Sarajevo.

At the end of the interview, the respondent took a deep breath, looked me in the eye and said: “All people should be allowed to move freely, all people”.