Many requests are denied.
This year, the Interior Ministry has rejected about 30 request for asylum in Croatia based on the opinion of the Security Intelligence Agency that there were potential security issues. This has caused alarm among representatives of non-governmental organisations dealing with refugee issues who claim that migrants have thus been declared a threat to national security and that the authorities are carrying out undercover anti-immigrant policies, reports Jutarnji List on May 21, 2017.
However, sources from the Ministry say that they are not implementing anti-immigrant policies, but just performing regular procedures before granting asylum. According to the law, the Security Intelligence Agency (SOA) staff perform a security check of foreigners, including migrants, at the request of the Interior Ministry. Not everybody is checked, but only those for whom the Ministry considers such checks to be necessary.
All countries carry out security checks of foreigners seeking asylum, visa, residence or citizenship, and Croatia is no exception. The Law on Aliens states that a foreigner ceases to be a resident or can be expelled for reasons of national security, without specifying any details. Only if the migrant submits a lawsuit to the Administrative Court, then the SOA must present the reasons for refusing to grant asylum.
Although the law states that a person can be expelled for reasons regarding national security, this does not automatically mean that he or she is a threat to national security. A very small number of migrants have been denied asylum because they fought in the ranks of the Islamic State or because, for example, they were members of secret services in Syria, Iraq or any other state and are therefore considered to be a threat to national security. Asylum seekers are usually rejected because they do not have documents to support their claims about who they are and where they come from, which is considered to be a security issue.
Furthermore, many of them do not really want to stay in Croatia, but submit an asylum application here to buy time until they find a way to illegally move to Western Europe. Sources say that asylum applications are increasingly being submitted by migrants who have already been deported from, for example, Austria, where they have been denied asylum and are now seeking refuge in Croatia in order to try to return to the country from which they were expelled.
The reasons for a negative assessment during a security check are giving false testimony, abandonment of the accommodation facilities, or criminal past in the country from which they came. “An asylum seeker is entitled to a residence permit and a passport for five years, and has the right to education, healthcare, and social welfare. They practically become citizens for five years. It is quite normal that such persons are thoroughly checked. Just imagine what would happen if some terrorist managed to pass a check, like it has already happened in some Western European countries, and then he or she commited a terrorist act,” says a former official of the Interior Ministry.
In recent days, the media has reported on the case of Samar Ahmad, a Syrian citizen who was denied subsidiary protection by the Croatian authorities. Ahmad was deported from Austria after the authorities determined that the Croatian police was the first to take his fingerprints when entering the country. Thus, according to the Dublin Agreement, he can apply for asylum in Croatia, where he was first registered. His case is taken as an alleged example of anti-immigrant policies. However, in reality, he is actually a good example of migrants violating legal regulations. For example, Ahmad does not live in a shelter, which is obligatory by law, but in a private apartment in Zagreb. Furthermore, when he came to Austria, he concluded that he wanted to stay there and filed an asylum application. But, he travelled to Austria through Turkey, Greece, Croatia, and he was supposed to file his request in Greece. Therefore, for several reasons, it has been assessed that there are security issues, and the Security Intelligence Agency therefore recommended that his request for subsidiary protection should be rejected.