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pushed back twice within 24 hours

Date & Time 2021-07-05
Location Gevgelija, North Macedonia
Reported by Anonymous Partner
Coordinates 41.12829009, 22.51710228
Pushback from North Macedonia
Pushback to Greece
Taken to a police station no
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 17 - 35
Group size 6
Countries of origin Morocco
Treatment at police station or other place of detention fingerprints taken, photos taken, personal information taken, denial of access to toilets, denial of food/water
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved unknown
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), gunshots
Police involved 8 officers (male and female) wearing blue and black uniforms with the Macedonian insignia on the shoulder; officers in the camp in light blue uniforms; 1 white car with the word "Police" written on it

The respondent is an 18-year-old man from Morocco. He was travelling with a group of five other men that were also from Morocco. The ages of the men in the transit group are between 17-35 years old. The respondent believed a local truck driver called the police on them while they were in a village near the North Macedonia-Greek border. Eight officers, both men, and women, identified by the respondent as wearing blue and black uniforms with the Macedonian insignia on the shoulder, arrived at the point of apprehension at about 12 a.m. 

The respondent explained that the officers searched their belongings but did not take anything. Then officers then asked the transit group, including the respondent, where they were from. Following this, the group was loaded onto a bus described by the respondent as being a “bus for traveling”. Two officers reportedly accompanied the transit group on the bus. 

After a 20 minutes drive, the group was reportedly brought to what was referred to the respondent as a “camp” next to the border. Once there, the fingerprints, pictures, and personal data of everyone in the group were collected. The respondent recalled that his personal information was taken by different officers in light blue uniforms whom he thought were working in the camp.

When asked to describe the camp, the respondent said: small, there had truck inside and there is like offices in this camp.”

The respondent recalled that the group was then brought back to the border by the same bus that transported them to the camp. The drive took about five minutes. The group was reportedly instructed to cross the gate over into Greek territory at approximately 2 p.m.

On that same day, the group crossed back over the border from Greece to North Macedonia. They arrived at a village by following some train tracks, where they encountered the same officers that had apprehended them during the previous pushback. The respondent described how they tried to flee from the officers:

“A [police] car came, and they [the officers] start to shout to [the transit group] them “stop stop” and they shoot in the air and they didn’t stop, they escaped.”

While trying to escape from the officers, the respondent was separated from the rest of the group. He continued to walk, following the highway. The respondent said at approximately 3 a.m. some officers driving in a car saw him and apprehended him. When asked to describe the vehicle the officers were driving, the respondent said it was a white car with “police” written on it. 

The respondent recalled how more officers wearing light blue uniforms arrived at the point where he was apprehended and loaded him into what he identified as the same bus as the one he had been transported in previously.

On the bus, two officers questioned the respondent: they asked him about the whereabouts of his friends, where he himself was going, and why he had crossed back over the border into North Macedonia. The respondent then described how the officers began to beat him with a stick all over his body for about one minute.

The respondent was reportedly brought back to the previously mentioned camp, and his personal data was collected again. The respondent recounted how he did not receive any food, water, or access to the toilet while being kept in the camp. The respondent was then transported back to the same gate along the border where he was been pushed back hours before. According to the respondent, the second pushback occurred at 5 a.m., the morning after the first pushback.