ZAGREB, November 12, 2018 – The Centre for Peace Studies (CMS) said on Monday that as of September the Interior Ministry was preventing it from entering the reception centres for asylum seekers in Zagreb and Kutina, refusing to extend a cooperation agreement with CMS, which has been working in such centres for 15 years and pointing to the ministry’s unlawful conduct.
The ministry’s explanation is that there is no space for CMS activities and that enough organisations are active in the reception centres, representatives of CMS and the Human Rights House told reporters.
CMS said other organisations were not available to all refugees, notably those in the Kutina centre. This is a “political decision aimed at intimidating, marginalising and distancing organisations which are publicly speaking about problems faced by refugees and the unlawful treatment of refugees by Interior Ministry staff,” said Julija Kranjec of CMS.
“A few months ago, the ministry asked in court that the Are You Syrious? organisation be banned and now it’s trying to obstruct the work of CMS and organisations which are warning about human rights violations,” said Ivan Novosel of the Human Rights House.
CMS and Are You Syrious? are pushing for prosecuting those responsible in last year’s death of Afghan migrant girl Madine Hosseini, whose case is currently before the European Court of Human Rights, said Kranjec.
CMS has been supporting refugees for 15 years, facilitating the integration of people in the reception centres and thus far over 1,000 asylum seekers have participated in CMS activities.
Its representatives said CMS was participating in the Interior Ministry’s Integration Action Plan and its implementation was now in question.
The plan’s education measures are necessary to build a better society and prevent hysteria and fact manipulation against migrants, said Kranjec.
Croatia, the Interior Ministry and the police have the duty to respect the rights of human rights organisations and defenders, added Novosel.
CMS demands that the ministry extend the agreement allowing them access to the reception centres.
For more on migrant crisis, click here.