The respondent, an Afghan man, and a group of 34 other Afghan men, age 10-46, attempted to cross the Serbian-Bulgarian border in the late hours of the 2nd of November, 2021. The group walked from the country’s capital Sofia in the hope of crossing the border near the town of Kalotina.
The respondent reports that their journey was interrupted when they were confronted by 2 police officers speaking Bulgarian, dressed in blue uniforms with black detailing who reportedly fired a gun at them as they attempted to cross the border. A single police car was also present. The officers, who called for backup, were joined by others from the police force, wearing green uniforms, who arrived in additional vehicles. The people-on-the-move were beaten violently with batons, mauled and bitten by dogs and shot at, officers aiming at their legs. These attacks ensured significant injuries were sustained. Additionally, mobile phones were confiscated from the group and submerged in water by officers, ensuring the devices were no longer useable. Those in blue uniforms were notably more violent than the other officers present. Furthermore, the males were threatened verbally, officers warning them that another attempt to cross the border would result in imprisonment for 18 months or the individuals being shot.
Following the attack, the group was moved to a police station in the direction of Sofia where they spent the night. Despite the police vehicle’s capacity to hold around 5 people, double this number (around 10) were forced to enter the vehicle. Upon arrival at the station, medical needs were ignored. Similarly, the group did not have access to food or water. A translator was not available until the following day; regardless of this, the respondents report that the men were forced to sign papers that they did not understand. They gave their fingerprints and had photographs taken involuntarily. It is unclear whether the group expressed a desire to claim asylum.
Upon release from police custody, the group was taken to a camp in Sofia, where the respondents have claimed that conditions were appalling. Basic needs were overlooked; medical attention remained unavailable, as did food and water.