On Thursday, the 12 of May 2022, a group of 30 people from Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Guinea, Gambia, Togo, and Ivory Coast, including minors, women and a pregnant woman, got reportedly pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The respondent explained that the group had been in Croatia for a few days and was on its way to Zagreb. At around 7 am, the group was surprised by men in uniform while they were all sleeping. The interviewee added that they had arrived with two cars and asked the group to all get down on the ground until reinforcements arrived.
“When the reinforcements arrived they started to search everyone, even the women”
The reinforcements arrived with three vans. In total, the respondent described 9 men in uniform, as well as the presence of dogs. They allegedly asked the group to undress for a search. At the same time, they took the money, phone, power bank, charger, and shoes of some members of the group. The respondent stated that the people in uniform also threw away and burned the food bags.
Reportedly, some people in the group were hit with batons, others were spat on and insulted by a member of the uniformed group.
“They treat you badly, they hit you, they spit on you, they have dogs that can bite you”.
The respondent explained that after several hours of checks, the men in uniform put the group into the vans. The group asked to be taken to a camp in Zagreb to apply for asylum in Croatia, but the request was reportedly refused.
The convoys then set off and initially stopped at what was described as a police station in Zagreb but only the men in uniform got off for a few minutes before setting off again. During the journey, the respondent testified that they encountered ill-treatments including lack of access to water and toilets and exposure to high temperatures.
“In the cars, during the journey, it was really hot, people threw up, we demanded, we banged the doors, they did nothing.”
“They added the heating, it’s a torture, it’s not normal to do that to us”
The respondent reported that after several hours of driving, the group was finally dropped off in a forest area near Bihac and from there continued on foot to Bihac. The respondent were unable to give a precise location due to the removal of phones and the lack of visibility from the outside in the vans.
“When we crossed the border we asked for our phones but they refused to give them to us.”