The group started the journey from Velika Kladuša (BiH) on the May 6th. They walked during the night and slept during the day because of Ramadan. After four days, the men reached Slovenia, where they walked for another day.
On the morning of May 11th, they woke up to rain. With everything wet and being unable to sleep any longer, the men split into three different groups of two and walked to the nearest village, Metlika (SLO), to take shelter. At around 1:00 pm, two Slovenian police officers approached the respondent and his friend. They were told to stop. The respondent believed at the time that he and his friend would have a chance to express their intention to seek asylum.
“I said to my friend it’s ok we are only two they will take us into the camp, everything is alright.”
The two men were taken to a police station at 3:00 pm, where they were questioned by police officers who utilized a translator. The respondent described that this was the third time he had come across this particular translator. He described him as large, bald-headed man, with tanned skin and large eyebrows. The respondent described him as being somewhere between 40 and 50 years old.
“I can never know where he is from though. Because the first time I met him he said he was from Syria, but I know the Syrian accent very well, so I told him that I knew he was lying.”
The respondent recalled that this interpreter had told him in the past that he would help him go to a camp in Slovenia where he would be able to access asylum procedures, if he came to the country “in another way.” When this translator saw the respondent again, he said: “Oh you are here again!” To which the respondent replied: “Yes, I came another way, will you help me go to the camp now?” This was met with the response “no, not like this, you have to try again.”
In the police station, the respondent described having his picture taken, in addition his name was registered and he was given paper to sign.
“I tell what is this? Because it is in Slovenian language… One nice police told me that it was because I was entering Slovenia in an illegal way so I must pay 500 euros, but he knew I was refugee and had no money so I must sign that and they return me back to Croatia.”
The two group-members stayed overnight in this police station. They could not recall its location.
Two of the other people from their original group joined them later in the station.
On the morning of May 12th, the four men were put inside a vehicle and driven to the Croatian border. At this point, five Croatian police officers, two of whom were women, waited for them at the other side of the border. The group was then driven for around 40 minutes to a police station in Croatia. The respondent also had no knowledge of the exact location of this place.
In the police station, the authorities searched the men and took their phones, money and powerbanks.
The respondent described that at around 1:00 pm, the officers told them to go to sleep and put them inside of a room which he described as dirty and dark.
“You can see is a nasty room, you sleep in here the toilet is just there, next to your had”
After three hours, the police transferred the group to another vehicle with two policemen inside and drove them for one hour until they reached the Bosnian-Croatian border.
At the border, there were four other policemen waiting for the group. The respondent described the uniforms of the officers as being different. There was one female officer and two male officers dressed in black. The respondent described another, who he inferred was the leader of the group, who wore a dark shirt and light blue trousers. The man claimed that when the presumed leader was present, the other officers typically use less force.
“I think he is the boss so I asked him why they were doing this. He said: ‘We don’t have a problem with you there is no problem for us, we know you are refugee. The problem is Slovenia, Slovenia catches you, returns you to Croatia, What is Croatia supposed to do? Return you to Bosnia! So go, go Bosnia we don’t have a problem with you.”
The officers returned the group-members phones as they left the car. The phones were completely broken.
“Why you do that? This is my phone, Why crashing my phone? They said: ‘No, it was not us, it was like that before, the problem was at the police station. Go away, go away!’ If you not go away they will beat you so I went.”
The respondent also recalled that the group’s money was not returned. They group walked for four hours back to Velika Kladuša (BiH), and arrived to the city at around 8:00 pm.