The respondent is 24 years old and from Algeria. The respondent was part of a transit group that consisted of two other men from Algeria and himself. Between the 2nd and the 9th of May 2023 the transit group was reportedly pushed back seven times from Albania to Greece. The respondent reported that the transit group was apprehended three times by Frontex officers and four times by Albanian police officers. The respondent did not report experiencing any violence during the seven pushback incidents.
The respondent reported that the transit group crossed the border to Albania near Miras. On the way to the border the group was reportedly stopped by a man who the respondent described as a Greek police officer. The respondent recalled that the officer asked them for their documents and the group showed their police notes. Afterwards the officer reportedly took the transit group to a police station and told the group that the border to Albania is just 20 kilometers away and they could go there. The hike to the border reportedly took the transit group three to four hours. The respondent reported that he encountered officers at the Greece-Albania border whom he believed to be from the Albanian Police and Frontex because of the uniforms they were wearing.. The respondent described the uniform of the Albanian Police as light and dark blue with the Albanian flag on it. Furthermore, the respondent was able to identify the uniforms on pictures. The respondent described the Frontex uniforms as black with a flag of the nationality of the officer wearing the uniform on one arm and the flag of the European Union on the other arm. The respondent noted that ‘Frontex’ was written on the uniforms. The respondent was able to identify the uniforms on pictures as well. While trying to cross the border to Albania, the respondent reportedly encountered Greek, German and Czech Frontex officers which he identified because of the flags they reportedly had on their uniforms
The first time the transit group was reportedly apprehended by two Frontex officers driving a Volkswagen. The second time the transit group was reportedly apprehended by 2 Frontex officers driving an Audi and the third time a Mercedes. The respondent explained that he believed Frontex officers use different cars in order “not [to] be seen” by people on the move. Furthermore, the respondent noted that Frontex officers used thermal imaging cameras and binoculars in order to search for people at night. This usage of technologies is documented by BVMN in previous reports.
The respondent reported that the transit group was apprehended four times by Albanian police officers. The last time, the transit group was reportedly near Elbasan when they were apprehended by an Albanian police officer. The respondent noted that the officer asked for their phones but he did not open them and reportedly gave them back after a few minutes.
The respondent reported that all seven pushbacks followed the same procedure. The transit group was reportedly stopped by either Albanian police or Frontex officers, who asked for their documents and where they were coming from. The respondent explained that the difference between the Albanian police and Frontex was that the Albanian police officers would transfer the transit group to the camp themselves while “Frontex’ job was only to catch the people”. Afterwards the Frontex officers would reportedly call the Albanian police who were transferring the transit group to the camp. The respondent reported that the camp was near Bilisht. Based on the location, the camp is likely to be Kapshticë camp. This camp was mentioned in previous reports.
Frontex’ job was only to catch the people
After arriving at the camp, the respondent recalled that the transit group had to give their fingerprints, name and date of birth to the officers working in the camp whom the respondent described as Albanian police officers. Reportedly, the officers took photographs of the transit group. The respondent explained that there were containers in the camp to accommodate six people with showers and the possibility to charge their phones. Reportedly, the transit group was given food and water in the camp. The respondent recalled seeing two cameras in the camp.
The respondent explained that there is a difference in the procedure depending on the time of arrival at the camp. For example, when the transit group was brought to the camp in the morning, they were reportedly allowed to stay in the camp for two hours to charge their phones, were given food and water and then driven to the border by Albanian police officers in a green Land Rover. When the transit group arrived at the camp in the evening, on the other hand, they were reportedly held in the camp overnight and slept in the containers. The respondent reported that the transit group had to wake up at 6 am and was brought back to the border in the same green Land Rover by Albanian police officers. On the way, the car would reportedly stop at a market for the transit group to buy food. The respondent recalled that there were two seats in the front of the Land Rover and six seats in the back, three on each side. The transit group was reportedly dropped off on a road next to the border and was told by the officers to walk back into Greece along this road.