The respondents are an Iranian couple (the man is 28 year old and the woman 29 year old) who attempted to cross the border close to Gradiska together with six Iranian and one Afghani man around 9-10 pm on Saturday, October 1 2022.
They managed to cross the Sava river during the night and continued walking on the street towards the village of Rajić. On Sunday morning, the respondents reported that they met Croatian officers who did not detain them. The respondents asked the officers for the “7-days paper” (an expulsion document leaving migrants 7 days to leave Croatia, which allows them to move freely through the country in this period), but the officers reportedly told them that the EU ordered Croatia to stop issuing these papers, and that they do not need the paper in order to move on.
The group continued walking until the train station of Rajić, but were intercepted by two officers in blue uniforms inside the station. The respondents identified them as regular police officers from pictures and their own experience. The respondents believe that the officers saw them in the CCTV cameras of the train station. After being apprehended, the officers reportedly searched the men and the bags, and took all of the group’s mobile phones. They eventually called for reinforcement and three other officers in the same uniforms arrived shortly after with a white van without windows, but with a blue “police” inscription on it as described by the respondents. Inside the van there were two benches, one on each site. The respondents mentioned that they felt tricked by the police when they learned that they can neither move on, nor receive the “7-days paper”.
The female respondent recounted that it was very dark inside the van, and that the nine passengers were squeezed together and could not breathe well. The respondents mentioned that they were apprehended at around 5:30 pm, but they had to wait for a long time before the van started driving. They did not remember for how long exactly, but given the fact that the distance between the point of apprehension and the point of pushback is less than 150km, they must have been detained in the van for several hours (the pushback only happened around midnight).
The respondents reported that during the waiting time they were not allowed to leave the van nor to go to the toilet. They furthermore did not receive any food or water. The respondents described one of the police officers as an approximately 22 year old police officer with short, blond hair. They mentioned that this officer is known for his bad behaviour towards people-on-the-move, as they had heard from others who had been treated badly by this particular officer. He happened to be the driver of the van. Due to his reportedly reckless driving style all the passengers were falling over each other and started feeling sick. The respondents furthermore remembered that he was whistling while leading the group to the van, which made them feel humiliated.
According to the respondents, the officers left them at the border around midnight (during the night Oct 2-Oct 3) and the group received back their phones, then walked for another 6km on the Bosnian side to the village of Zboriste. They did not have warm jackets and were freezing. In the village, they encountered Bosnian officers who treated them in a friendly manner. When the group asked for help the officers reportedly tried to call IOM but it was too late, so they had to spend the night outside. The next morning, the officers managed to contact IOM, who arrived around noon to pick up the couple and bring them to Borici family camp in Bihać. The remaining men had to wait until 7pm before IOM came back to bring them to Lipa camp. Due to the long waiting time in the cold weather, the male respondent reported that he became ill with a chest infection.