A group of six men in transit from Western Sahara were apprehended at approximately 11.00 in Novo Mesto (Slovenia) on 11th September 2019. The group was traveling on foot when they entered a populated area of the town. The respondent asked a local man to call the police because he planned on asking the police for asylum, assuming he was following the proper procedure for seeking international protection. Six Slovenian police officers, five male authorities and one female authority wearing blue uniforms appeared on site. The group complied with the authorities. The group was taken in a police van and brought to the Novo Mesto police station. They remained at the station for three hours.
At the station the transit group was forced to sign documents without translation. One minor was present (aged 16 years old) and he was given the same documents and procedures as the five adults in the group. The respondent expressed intent for asylum. Referencing the lack of safety in his home country of Western Sahara, the respondent stated:
“If you focus on our country you will see that there is a lot of conflict.”
The respondent noted the entire groups motive for seeking asylum. In the police station, the respondent spoke in English and attempted to express to the Slovenian authority that they wanted to seek international protection because of the issues the faced. The officers ordering them to sign the paperwork ignored this communication. After three hours in the Novo Mesto police station the group was transported to the border with Croatia.
From the border, Croatian police who had received the transfer of the group, loaded them in a van with no windows and exposed them to extreme heat. The vehicle was driven recklessly and very fast, causing all members of the group to feel sick. The respondent reports that all six vomited inside the van. The vehicle brought them to a station in Croatia. Here the group was detained inside the station for four hours. They were denied water and the only toilet available was inside the detainment cell with no privacy. The cell was fitted with one bed, but contained seven people.
“It was like a horror movie. I have never seen something like this.”
An unspecified number of Croatian police in blue uniforms, with two police dogs, questioned the group about their ages. The youngest stated his age as 16 years and the authority responded:
“No you were born in 2001.”
The same male Croatian authority then used his fists and punched the minor in the face several times. The minor was processed like an adult, as was done earlier in the Slovenian station at Novo Mesto. The responded expressed intent again at the station in Croatia for asylum, but the request was denied.
The group was then transported in a white police van and brought to the border. They were unloaded from the van and pushed back from Croatian territory into Bosnia (close to the town of Velika Kladuša).