On 10th November 2019 the respondent was attempting to cross the border from Croatia to Slovenia with a group of five men from Western Sahara and Morocco when the respondent was separated from the group. The respondent, a 24 year old male from Western Sahara, was individually apprehended by the police when he requested medical care at about 13.00 that day. The respondent assumed there would be police or border authorities at the SLO/HR border on the bridge connecting Sečje Selo (SLO) and Pribanjci (HR). Therefore he approached this crossing to seek assistance.
At the location there was one Slovenian border officer in a blue uniform and one Croatian border officer in a navy blue uniform. The respondent approached the two authorities and said:
“Look at my hand, please help me.”
He showed the officers a large open wound on his left hand which was bleeding. In response the Croatian border officer asked:
“Where is your group, where did they cross?”
The respondent told the officer he was by himself and needed medical attention. The Croatian border officer then called for more Croatian police to arrive and for medical staff to transport the respondent in a Croatian police van. The male Croatian officer driving protested against taking the respondent to the hospital but the female emergency medical responder insisted it was necessary. At 14.00 the respondent was transported via ambulance to a hospital in Karlovac (HR). Someone from the hospital staff cleaned the wound on his hand and wrapped it in gauze. According to a document from the hospital, the respondent was diagnosed with:
“swelling and inflammation of the right fist with less laceration of the third finger of the right fist.”
At about 15.00 the respondent was transported from the hospital in a Croatian police vehicle to Karlovac (HR). Allegedly, the van stopped at the police station but the respondent was not brought inside and was instead detained in the police van for approximately four hours until 19.00. The respondent reports that about 20 people on the move (from other groups in transit) were loaded into the police van and then they were transported to the HR/ BiH border.
The van drove the respondent for about one hour. Six Croatian police in black uniforms and ski masks ordered the group outside of the van and then searched their pockets. Phones, money, and power banks were confiscated. The respondent pinned the push back location on his phone and claims they were in the woods within the Velika Kladusa municipality at 45.137198, 15.786798, inside of BiH territory. One Croatian officer took about 20 euros from the respondent’s pocket. The individuals were then forced to remove their shoes and jackets. The police beat the respondent and the others at the pushback site with batons and fists.
“How can you beat me when my hand is already bleeding? My friend please stop.”
The respondent said referring to his injured hand which the officer was further damaging as he beat him.
“I am not your friend,” the officer responded.
The Croatian officers continued to beat the respondent on his hands, arms, and back, before leaving them in the woods.