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 If you return to Croatia, we will kill you

Date & Time 2021-05-14
Location about 300 meters from road E65 near Karlovac, Croatia
Reported by No Name Kitchen
Coordinates 45.096337, 16.104026
Pushback from Croatia
Pushback to Bosnia
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved yes
Men involved yes
Age 5 - 40
Group size 6
Countries of origin Afghanistan
Treatment at police station or other place of detention photos taken, personal information taken, no translator present
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 7
Violence used reckless driving, death threat
Police involved 7 police officers (4 normal police officers in light blue uniforms and 3 officers from the intervention unit in black uniforms)

The respondent was traveling from Bosnia to Croatia together with his sister, her husband, their two kids, and a friend of the family – all from Afghanistan. They report having crossed the border into Croatia on Monday the 10th of May. They then kept on walking towards the Slovenian border. 

On the 15th of May, they were then found and apprehended by what the respondent describes as Croatian police officers while they were walking in the area of Karlovac. The respondent remembers that at the moment that the police found them they were about 300 meters into the forest next to the road. 

The respondent claimed that most probably some local people saw the group walking on the road and called the police on them. Four police officers in light blue uniforms (consistent with the uniforms worn by normal Croatian police officers) arrived at their location. They looked for the group but could not find them as they were hiding behind some thorns in the forest. These police officers then went away but returned about an hour later with a dog that then discovered the group. 

When the police found them, at about 11 am, they were taking some rest under some plastic planes. The police officers approached their makeshift camp and kicked the plastic. 

“At first they thought we were single [men] and they shouted a lot, but when they saw that we were family, their behavior improved. “

The respondent told the police that his sister was feeling very sick and the officers agreed to bring them to a local police station. Before they were driven to the station they had to hand over their phones to the police officers. In the station, the respondent believes that it was in the city of Karlovac, and they were held for about 2 hours. During this time their names were noted down, and the police took pictures of everyone in the group. The respondent also expressed his wish to seek asylum in Croatia to what the officer responded: 

“I have to tell my boss”

Nevertheless, the people were then put into a vehicle. 

“When they put us in the car, I did not know where they were taking us. I asked him and he said ‘we will bring you back to Bosnia’ and he closed the door tightly.”

They were driven for about three and a half hours in a small van that was driven by two normal police officers. The respondent describes that during the ride they were thrown from side to side in the back of the car. 

“We were in the deportation car for about three hours or three and a half hours. Those cars are designed in such a way that there is no place for handles at all and we were all thrown back and forth. By the time we got to the Bosnian border, they opened the door and returned our phones, saying that it was on the other side of Bosnia.”

The location where they arrived at the border was near Bužim, Bosnia (approx. this location: 45.096337, 16.104026). The respondent describes that the spot they were brought to was in a forest about 100 meters from the border. There were three officers that the respondent referred to as “commandos” waiting for them at the location.

“They dress just like commandos and have well-trained and large bodies and are the master of everything.”

The description of those authorities matches the appearance of the Croatian Intervention police as the respondent claimed that they were wearing black uniforms and black ski masks covering their faces. These three officers then ordered the group to walk back over the border into Bosnia, threatening to kill them if they came back to Croatia.

“It was a very terrible situation. We were very tired, all the clothes and shoes were wet.  My sister was very sick. But it did not matter to them at all.”

From the location where they crossed back into Bosnia, the group then had to walk over 40 kilometers back to Velika Kladuša, where they were staying.