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The cops, even when they arrested us, said “we were checking on you from the cameras”

Date & Time 2023-10-20
Location Gevgelija, North Macedonia
Reported by Anonymous Partner
Coordinates 41.12826, 22.51701
Pushback from North Macedonia
Pushback to Greece
Taken to a police station no
Minors involved no
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 30 - 40
Group size 8
Countries of origin Pakistan, Syria, Algeria
Treatment at police station or other place of detention fingerprints taken, personal information taken
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 2
Violence used no violence used
Police involved 2 officers wearing uniforms that the respondent recognized as North Macedonian police, two vans identified as the North Macedonian police vans, one officer in military suits showing a German flag recognized as Frontex

The respondent, a 35-year-old man from Algeria, was part of a transit group with another 40-year-old man from Algeria. The two men were pushed back from North Macedonia to Greece two times within 15 days. During both pushbacks, the transit group was arrested by the North Macedonian police and reportedly taken to a transit centre in the proximity of Gevgelija, from which the group was subsequently pushed back to Greece between 3 and 4 p.m.

The respondent recalled his first pushback experience, which happened in mid-October of this year; however, he could not remember the specific date. Throughout the night, he walked alongside a railway with another man from Algeria and eventually crossed the border between Greece and North Macedonia. Approximately 30 minutes after crossing the border, the transit group reached a bus station in Gevgelija, very close to the border police station. While the transit group waited for the first bus in the morning, the respondent said that two police officers arrived at the bus station from the closest police station. The two policemen, who were wearing the North Macedonian police uniform, reportedly “caught” the transit group through the surveillance cameras inside the bus station.

The cops, even when they arrested us, said “we were checking on you from the cameras”.

The respondent explained that he and his friend were arrested alongside four Pakistani and two Syrian nationals who were waiting at the bus station with them. Their ages ranged between 30 and 40 years old. The group was reportedly transferred on a “huge police bus” and subsequently taken to a transit centre nearby.

According to the respondent, once the transit group arrived at the transit centre their fingerprints and pictures were taken. Additionally, with the assistance of a Syrian interpreter, they were asked if they intended to claim asylum. 

After the registration process, the respondent described being transferred with the rest of the group to different containers. These containers, referred to by the respondent as “caravans”, accommodated a maximum of two to four people each. 

Additionally, the respondent reported seeing an officer monitoring the camp from a container, wearing a military suit with a German flag on his arm. The officer in military uniform reportedly stayed in the camp from 10 am until 3pm and was identified by the respondent as a Frontex agent.

After spending four hours detained in the container, the respondent and the other seven members of the transit group were reportedly transferred by two officers identified as North Macedonian police on a “police camion” and driven near the border. At approximately 4 o’clock, the group was subsequently pushed back through a gate to Greece.

After being pushed back, the respondent and the rest of the group walked until they reached the village of Polykastro. From there, they took a bus to Thessaloniki.