On the 18th of October, a 32-year-old man from Palestine was pushed back from Romania to Serbia.
The respondent started to walk on the 18th October around 10 pm, and reached the Serbian-Romanian border after 6 km. After he had crossed the border and walked for 3 km through a path which he described as covered by lots of trees and plants, he reached a stretch of flat terrain where he was spotted and apprehended by two men that he describes as 2 Romanian border police officers wearing dark blue uniforms with a Romanian flag patch. They came with a black car, equipped with firearms and batons.
Reportedly, one of the officers was “huge” and bald, with an earring and a tattoo on his right hand. The respondent describes and emphasizes that this policeman is very “famous” among people-on-the-move, since he is always waiting at the border in order to steal money from people. He also reports that he has heard that this officer in particular often uses dogs against people and that he usually threatens people with his firearms.
The respondent stresses many times that this officer was very aggressive from the beginning to the end. When he asked “Where is your friend?”, and the respondent said that he was alone, he recalls that the officer was shouting and reportedly started to beat him up with his baton. He then reportedly forced the respondent to take off his clothes, and as he saw the respondent’s surgery scar, he said:
“This is disgusting! You’re disgusting. You’re an animal!”
Afterwards, the respondent reports that the officer asked how much money he had. Even though he said that he had no money, he searched his backpack and found a small amount of Lebanese money and asked the respondent: “how much money is this?” and gave up taking the money; instead, the respondent states that he took his mobile phone and asked for its passcode, shouting. At that point, the respondent told the officer that if his phone was taken away he would send an e-mail to the Romanian police department to complain, and he recounts that the officer threw the phone away after looking at his personal photos and browser search history.
After that, the officer found an empty laptop bag in his backpack, and asked insistently “Where is your laptop?”, shouting. Through all of this process, the other officer was just watching; the respondent states that people are normally taken back to the border in a car, but that they forced him to walk 3 kilometres back, punishing him for threatening them to file a complaint. The respondent reports that he said to the officer:
“I read on the internet, if I enter a country, and ask for asylum, police must take me to the police station. I’m asking for asylum but they refused and shouted at me: Go back to Serbia! Go back to Serbia!”
And the respondent told us: “Three years of running and hiding… It’s hard, I’m exhausted. I just want to see my children again safe and sound”.
While being followed by what the respondent described as a police vehicle, the respondent reported that he was forced to walk back to the border and was pushed back around 1 pm by the officer that physically abused him earlier that day. The pushback location was close to the Serbian village of Majdan. Reportedly, the officer entered Serbian territory to be sure that the respondent would not come back.