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Be human with us. I know their job [..] when you capture refugees, you take and return. But return humanly

Date & Time 2022-11-25
Location Along Korana river between Sadilovac and Donji Vaganac
Reported by Anonymous
Coordinates 44.92439425, 15.71394021
Pushback from Croatia
Pushback to Bosnia
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved no
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 20 - 32
Group size 6
Countries of origin Syria, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia
Treatment at police station or other place of detention denial of food/water
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 5
Violence used pushing people to the ground, insulting, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving
Police involved 3 Croatian officers of Intervention Police (IJP), 2 vans

On November 25th the respondent, a 32-year-old man from Tunisia, was pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia together with a group of 5 people (all men aged 20 to 30 years old) from an unknown point about 4-5km after crossing the border in an area along the Korana river.  

While they were still in Bosnia, the group tried to take a bus but they were not allowed to board as they were allegedly told that “refugees don’t take a bus, go take a taxi”. They then proceeded to walk for several kilometres until they crossed the border with Croatia.

They crossed at 7 p.m. on Friday 25th. They walked for about 4-5km, before they were stopped by two policemen (the respondent claims it happened around 9 p.m.), close to the Korana river. They immediately stopped without resisting (“we are not aggressive with them”) and started cooperating: they took off their backpacks to be checked by the policemen to see if they carry weapons (“I tell him we don’t have anything”) – they only carried water, energy drinks and food.  

“Honestly, these two guys is good policemen”. 

According to the respondent, the two policemen then called another policeman that the respondent claims could be their “chef”, their boss. Before his arrival, the respondent also claims to have asked the two policemen if they could receive what he calls “quitte”, referring to the 7-day paper that gives migrants 7 days to leave the European Economic Area, to which the police answered “we don’t have any solution for that. Maybe in the police station you ask that, maybe they give you”.   

When the “chef” arrived, he also searched their backpacks. After that, they boarded a van and left the place of their apprehension. They reached the police station – “when we see police station, I was happy. I was thinking we get this paper”. Nevertheless, they were not taken inside the building: the van was parked nearby and the group was then transferred to another van. “I’m so confused for that, why he don’t bring us to police station?”. 

At this point, another policeman approaches the van – the respondent refers to him as “the bad policeman”. While still in the van, the respondent asked him about the 7-days paper, to which he claims to have received only insults as an answer; the policeman then closed the door of the van, leaving the group to wait inside. They stayed there for a while.  

The same policeman came back to the van and called out the respondent, who was the first one of the group to be taken in the police station – inside, there was only the two of them. The respondent was asked to take everything out of his backpack to be checked and, since there was nothing out of the order, he was allowed to put everything back inside. Shortly after, another policeman arrived (“the bad other guy”) and started speaking in Croatian with his colleague. According to the respondent, this new policeman told him not to take anything with him, contrary to what the other officer had just said. The respondent also reported that at one point he had taken his bottle of water to drink because he was thirsty and one of the policemen hit the bottle from his hands and told him “No water”. He was then asked to provide the code to unlock his phone, which was checked and never returned. After this he was told to get out, to which the respondent reacted by asking to have his things back (“give me anything”), but he had to leave without the possibility of taking anything with him – not even water or food.  All the other members of the group were then brought in the police station one by one, and each of them was stripped of all their belongings. The respondent declared that they didn’t express an intention to ask asylum, that neither their pictures nor fingerprints were taken. 

Once the group had been checked, the respondent says they were taken “to the mountain” by three policemen (he doesn’t recount if they were the same three policemen that apprehended them) he doesn’t know the location or the direction they took, but he claims they were taken to a high mountain – “you know mountain of Bihac is biggest mountain, is not easy mountain”. He reported that the police were driving recklessly on purpose all the way to their destination. He claims they were taken to the very top of said mountain and that he believed it to be the highest point because they could see the city lights in the valley below: according to the respondent, they were left there around midnight. They asked for lights, since it was very dark and their phones had been taken, a request that was denied by the officers, who supposedly replied “No light. Go, Bosnia Bosnia”. At this point, the respondent reported that, while the group had stopped to discuss where to go and what to do, the three policemen approached them and pushed them down the side of the mountain: he claims they hadn’t seen them coming because everything was dark and the officers had their flashlights turned off. They kept rolling down until some trees stopped them – no one reported serious injuries. They climbed up again and then started descending from the mountain – the respondent claims it took them around three hours to get back to the city.

Once in the city, they stopped nearby a hotel where a man helped them by giving them water and cigarettes. They had no food, they were very hungry but kept walking to look for a place where they could sleep: it was 3 a.m. and “it is very very very very cold, you cannot imagine this cold”. They eventually started a fire in the forest. The respondent reported that on the way, while looking for a place to rest, they met a policeman from Bihac who gave them cake, water and lights for the night.  

They woke up around 5/6 a.m. and continued walking towards Bihac.