As part of a group of 20 people, the respondent crossed the border from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Croatia on 20 May 2021, in the area of Bihać. All members of the group were male, from Afghanistan and between 20 and 25 years old. The respondent is 21 years old.
After two days of walking into Croatia, the group reached road E71 in a forest in the region of Josipdol, Croatia. It was 22 May 2021 around 10 p.m. When the group crossed the road, they were however detected and, according to the respondent, police officers shouted “Stop, stop” and fired two gunshots in the air. The respondent claimed that the group was apprehended by 6 police officers, all of whom were wearing a dark-blue uniform and a gun on their belt. 5 officers were male and 1 was female. The female officer had dark hair that was tied together. 4 officers came by foot, 2 of them were in a dark-blue passenger car that looked like a civilian’s car and was not recognisable as a police car. They had one dog with them. At one point, the dog seized the sleeping bag of one group member and teared it up with his teeth, and the officers did not intervene.
The officers then frisked each member of the group one by one. The respondent described how, while each person was being checked, the others had to kneel down on the ground, with their arms behind their head. When the respondent moved his head, the officers told him to keep the head and the eyes pointed to the ground. The respondent estimated that they had to stay in this position for around 40 minutes until everybody was checked. He stated that the officers took all the belongings from the group members except the clothes that they were wearing. They eventually allowed them to also keep their Bosnian money (BAM) but took all their Euros, as well as their mobile phones, power-banks, sleeping bags and luggage with food and clothes.
After the police officers had made a call, a van with two more male officers in dark-blue uniforms arrived. The 20 people on the move were ordered to get into the rear part of the van. There were no seats, and the people had to sit on the metal floor. The driver drove jerkily, with a lot of accelerating and braking, so that the people were thrown around in the van, falling on each other. It was very hot, and there was no ventilation. Many group members had to vomit. The respondent described how they knocked and said that they needed fresh air, but the two officers in the front of the van just shouted “No, stop knocking!” with angry voices.
After 2-3 hours of driving, the van stopped on a small unpaved road in a big forest. The respondent said that the spot was around 10 kilometers from Bihać, possibly near Melinovac, Croatia (coordinates 44.7372183, 15.9028629). It was around 2 a.m. on 22 May 2021. The 20 people on the move had to get out of the van one after another. There were 4 police officers present (the two who had arrived in the van and the two who were driving the blue passenger car). They also had the dog with them, on a leash.
After getting out of the van, every group member was frisked again. According to the respondent, the officers now also took the jackets and hats from them and threw them into a fire that they had lit. Moreover, they also threw the luggage into the fire that they had before taken from the people. The respondent asked them to return him his mobile phone and some water and biscuits. The officers gruffly said “No”. After being frisked, the group members had again to kneel down with their hands behind the head. The respondent described how throughout the whole procedure, the officers were laughing and filming the scene with a phone.
When they had checked everybody, the officers pointed to a direction, said “Go Bosnia!” and threatened them with the dog.
After walking an estimated three hours, the respondent arrived to Bihać in the early morning of 22 May 2021.