Secretly filmed footage has been released reportedly showing the Croatian police illegally expelling migrants, including children, minors and women, from the country. Border Violence Patrol, which submitted the footage to Index.hr, guarantees the authenticity of the footage and supports it with GPS data, reports Index.hr on December 16, 2018.
According to the information provided to Index.hr, the expulsions were carried out in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), away from the official border crossings and without the presence of the BiH police. Such pushback of migrants, without due process and without the ability to seek asylum, is illegal and violates international laws, including the Geneva Convention.
The Ministry of Interior said they would respond to the footage after it had been published.
Video can be seen on the Index.hr website.
The footage was submitted anonymously to the Border Violence Monitoring (BVM) organisation. Border Violence Monitoring claims that the footage is the first evidence of systematic pushback conducted by the Croatian police far from official border crossings. They note they consider the footage to be authentic.
The extensive video material was shot by hidden cameras in a forest near Lohovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, covering the period between September 29 and October 10, BVP claims. The footage shows 54 illegal group pushbacks of at least 350 migrants, including women and children, claims BVP. Shooting can be heard on several occasions.
In 240 hours of video, 24 pushbacks were recorded during the day, while 30 were recorded in the dark. The most significant expulsion occurred on October 6, when five policemen deported 55 refugees. On October 9, the highest number of people were expelled. According to the BVP, at least 81 persons were expelled that day in eight separate pushbacks.
Officers have been recorded on several occasions with machine guns and police batons in their hands. On October 4th, a police officer threatens to use a baton, while on October 7, two policemen can be seen forcing migrants to walk in line, and one policeman hits a person.
BVP has also released photos of bullet cartridges. They claim to have found them at the location where the expulsions took place. They additionally claim that ammunition came from the HS-9 Tactical gun, the official weapon of the Croatian police.
Border Violence Patrol guarantees the authenticity of the footage and supports it with GPS data. They say that journalists can receive the original GPS data. They also claim that it is easy to get to the location in Bosnia and Herzegovina and compare it with the footage.
“These expulsions are illegal because they were not carried out at the official border crossings and were conducted without the presence of BiH officials. Also, documents from various organisations suggest that asylum applications filed by refugees have been rejected before the expulsion,” the BVP reports. Reports by local organisations show that expulsions are often accompanied by destruction of migrant property, violence and theft.
The Interior Ministry and Minister Davor Božinović have persistently denied allegations and numerous reports about illegal activities allegedly conducted by the Croatian police towards migrants, including physical violence and property destruction.
Translated from Index.hr (reported by Denis Mahmutović).
More news on Croatia’s migrant policies can be found in our Politics section.