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Three pushbacks in a row

Date & Time 2022-09-29
Location Close to Ravnice
Reported by No Name Kitchen
Coordinates 45.101641, 16.096933
Pushback from Croatia
Pushback to Bosnia
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved yes
Men involved yes
Age 3 - 45
Group size 14
Countries of origin Afghanistan, Iran
Treatment at police station or other place of detention
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved unknown
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving
Police involved unknown number of Croatian officers in light blue border police uniforms, unknown number of Croatian officers in green special forces uniforms, 2 police vans without inscriptions and no windows at the back compartment

The respondent is a 41 year old man from Iran traveling with his 15 year old son. He mentioned that his wife and another son were imprisoned in Iran and he was very worried about them, not knowing if or when they would be able to leave the prison. The father and son joined a group of people from Afghanistan (a 40 year old woman with two 13 year old boys, and nine other people consisting of two families with a 3 year old boy and an 11 year old girl) to cross the border north of Banja Luka, presumably close to Gradiska, on Wednesday September 28th.

They brought a dinghy boat to cross the Sava river, but a local fisherman reportedly took it from them under threat to call the police. The group had to spend the night in the forest, and the next morning the fisherman offered them a ride with his own boat for 50 € per person, which they felt they had to accept.

After crossing the river, the group walked until the Croatian village Okucani, which they reached around 7 pm on Thursday, September 29th. They were hungry and thirsty, and therefore asked at the local police office for help. The respondent described that the officers at first seemed friendly, invited them inside the police station, gave them water and said they would give them the “7-days paper” (an expulsion document leaving people irregularly present on national territory 7 days to leave Croatia, which allows them to move freely in the country in this period). The respondent did not remember how many officers were present (he said that there were many officers who worked at the police station), but he described them as wearing blue uniform, so it could be that they belonged to Croatian border police unit. After a while, a white van without any inscription arrived and reportedly took the whole group back to the border, leaving them close to Ravnice, a town in Bosnia.

After returning to Bosnia, the group waited until midnight and tried to cross the border again in strong rain. This time the respondent stated that they were intercepted by two Croatian officers, again presumably border police, in light blue shirts and blue pants. The group begged the officers for help, but instead the officers reportedly took the money of at least one of the women in the group, and broke the phone (back side and the charging slot) of the respondent, as well as his power bank. The respondent said that one of the officers took him behind the car and beat him with a stick on his shoulder, in front of his son. The group eventually had to walk the 3 km back to the border in heavy rain, accompanied by a car with officers inside.

They spent the next day (Friday) waiting in their wet clothes until they could attempt the border crossing again: this time only five people were left in their group. However, the respondent reported that they were soon intercepted again by Croatian officers wearing green uniforms (the respondent did not remember exactly how many officers were present), who were presumably Croatian special police forces based on this uniform description. They did not treat the group violently, but reportedly loaded them into a police van. The respondent does not know where they were driven to, but eventually another nine persons consisting of men, women, and children were loaded into the same vehicle. The breathing conditions in the unventilated van without windows were very bad, and the respondent described that the ride was conducted in such a harsh way that all the passengers fell ill and started vomiting. Despite the short distance that the group had walked from the border, the respondent stated that the ride took around 4 hours. Eventually the group was left very close to the same location at which they crossed the border the same morning, so the respondent believed that the reckless and long van ride was conducted on purpose.

After crossing the border back to Bosnia and Herzegovina around 7 pm, they took refuge in a school until Saturday morning, and drove back by taxi to Bihać bus station. From there, IOM took the group to the Borici family camp in Bihać.