On 6th October 2019 a group of four men from Yemen, Morocco, and Egypt were traveling by vehicle from Zagreb (HR) on highway E65 towards Rijeka (HR). The respondent noted that the conditions on the road were “high traffic.” The group was stopped by Croatian police on highway E65 in Draganić (HR).
At about 16.00 the group was stopped by one man and one woman who did not identify as police, and were wearing civilian clothes. The authorities did show the respondent a badge which was in their pocket. The authorities were standing outside of an unmarked vehicle when they stopped the vehicle which was transporting the group of four people-on-the-move.
The authorities asked to see the respondent’s phone. The respondent asked them, “Please, no delete maps”. The male authority said “Okay,” and returned the phone. The authorities asked the respondent for his documents, and asked the group where they were traveling to.
One of the authorities opened the door of the vehicle and ordered the entire group to exit the vehicle, and to “sit only.” The respondent reports that the group remained sitting on the floor beside the vehicle for what felt like between 30 and 40 minutes. After that time an official Croatian police van came to the point where the group was stopped.
Inside the Croatian police van were two Croatian police officers. One officer came out from the van and approached the respondent asking him:
“Where phone? Where money?”
The respondent was then forced to give his phone to the officer and to give the money from his wallet to the officer. The officer took approximately 150 euros and 50 Bosnian convertible marks from the group. Three members of the groups had phones, and the arriving police officer took one iPhone and one Samsung phone but the third phone, which was an older Huawei phone was given back to the respondent. The respondent asserted that the third phone was returned because it was less expensive.
All four men were told to get inside the police van. At this point one group member, the Moroccan man, asked the officer who was driving:
“Where is my phone?”
The officer responded by telling him to:
“Shut up! Shut up!”
The officer then grabbed him by the arm and proceeded to punch the man’s arm, and hit his back while the officer again said, “Shut up. No speak.” The man began to cry and was then pushed inside the van. Inside the vehicle were nine others from another transit group that had been brought in the rear area by the newly arrived officers.
Because so many people were crowded into the van the respondent had to sit with his knees to his chest while they were driven for approximately three hours. Inside the van he described how it was:
“hard to breath because there was no air.”
The respondent noted that the air conditioning/ventilation fans were not working. The respondent could not see out the windows and was unsure of where they were transported. They arrived and were unloaded from the vehicle at a police station.
At the police station the group was detained in a cell about 4 by 4 meters with only a cement floor to sit on.
“It was very bad. It looked like no cleaning for maybe one years. The toilet was full and the smell was so bad.”
The group was detained for several hours and had no translator. The respondent expressed intent for asylum and the officer said, “No asylum.” The respondent shared how he had tried to express his need for asylum to the Croatian police:
“There are so many problems in my country. I can’t go back. I have no home and everything was all burnt. I want asylum. I need asylum. I will stay anywhere, in camp, please.”
After several hours detention, the transit group were transported in a Croatian police van brought to a border area near to Bugar (BiH). On the the HR/ BiH border seven Croatian Intervention police officers in black uniforms with black ski masks surrounded the group as they exited the van. The officers kicked the men in the legs and yelled, “Go back to Bosnia.” One officer kicked one of the men in his groin. The respondent stated that it felt as if they were beaten for one hour. After the assualt, they were forced across the border from Croatia to Bosnian territory.