Croatian Police Will Verify NGO Claims on Violence against Refugees

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Following NGO reports on violence against refugees by the Croatian police, police officials said they will investigate the claims.

Following an NGO warning about increased police brutality against refugees on the Croatia-Serbia border, the Police Directorate said that they will verify the truth of those claims, but stressed that no instruction was given that any form of coercion may be unlawfully applied against migrants, reports Jutarnji List on 29th May 2017.

Civil society organizations Are You Syrious? and the Welcome Initiative, based on reports and testimonies of refugees on frequent police violence against them, requested that the police immediately stop violence against persons located on border crossings and Croatian territory.

Representatives of the Directorate said that accusations of some humanitarian associations on police violence against refugees are occasionally published, but that that information is often hard to prove because they lack certain details, which they have requested from the associations.

The head of the Border Administrator Zoran Ničeno said at a press conference that he thinks it hardly possibly that those cases of alleged beatings and confiscation of property are not also reported to Serbian police. He claims that the only reports were made to associations.

An official at the office of the Chief of Police, Gojko Marković, said that they have received a criminal complaint against the excessive use of force by the police at the beginning of February from those civil society organizations and that the complaint was still being processed. Some of what the police found was sent to the State Attorney’s Office, while they are waiting for data from international cooperation for the rest.

“When we receive that, we will send it to the State Attorney’s Office as well, and they will ultimately make the judgment whether the police did something wrong,” said Marković.

He said that they will verify the allegations presented by the organizations regardless of whether those organizations submit another criminal complaint.

“We do not wish to comment in advance whether something is true or not, it will be verified, and we have also asked them to provide us with more details because their documentation fails to show the identity of the victims, which prevents us from determining who is in the pictures or whether the injuries could have hypothetically been sustained in Serbia or in a fight between them. Anything is possible, but we do not want to dismiss anything in advance”, said Marković.

He said that the Ministry of the Interior and the Police Directorate had not issued any command that any form of coercion may be unlawfully applied against migrants and added that their investigation will show if there were any individual inadmissible actions or abuse of power.

Regarding the case of five minors in Karlovac, Ničeno said that it was true that a group of five minors was caught on 13th and 21st May trying to illegally cross the border to Slovenia, but that they have not yet determined if force was used against them.

“It is completely untrue that police employees are threatening employees of the children’s home in Karlovac in order to cover up the case. The police talked to the director and educator of refugee children and their guardian, and it was confirmed that the employees were not threatened or intimated,” said Ničeno.

He said that the statistics for the first four months of the year showed an increase in border crossings across the green border. Out of 1113 such cases, 380 have occurred at the inner EU border, with Slovenia. Out of that, 180 people sought asylum in Croatia, including 31 minor.


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