Family of Afghan Girl Who Died in Border Area Files Charges Against Croatian Police

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The girl was hit by a train, and the family claims that the Croatian border police had forced them to walk back to Serbia along railway tracks.

The death of six-year-old Madina, who died a month ago on a border between Croatia and Serbia, has seen her family file criminal charges against unknown Croatian border police officers, charging them with four criminal offences, including negligence homicide, reports Novi List on December 20, 2017.

In addition to homicide, the family has accused the unknown perpetrators of abuse of office and authority, violation of the child’s rights and the imposition of severe mental pain and suffering due to the family’s social status, given that they belong to the vulnerable refugee population, said lawyer Sanja Bezbradica Jelavić at a press conference organised by NGOs in front of the State Attorney’s Office building.

The lawyer claimed that the mother and the six children were found by the police on Croatian territory and that at the time, asylum was applied for. However, they say that the police officers refused to act according to the laws and directives of the European Union and instead forced the family to return at night along the railway tracks back to Serbian territory.

The reported persons, the lawyer said, did not act in a humane manner because they had refused the mother’s request to allow her and the children aged 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 15 to wait until the morning because the children were tired and agitated, which ultimately caused one child’s death.

Bezbradica Jelavić confirmed the accuracy of the mother’s statement that members of the Croatian border police had transported the entire family after the accident and surrendered them to the Serbian police, although the family had applied for asylum in Croatia.

Tajana Tadić from the Are You Syrious NGO said that her organisation had published three reports this year in which it presented cases of many refugees who were being systematically denied access to the international protection system on Croatian territory, causing some to think there is no longer an asylum institution in Croatia at all.

She reported that the UNHCR in Serbia had recorded 3,000 cases of illegal expulsions from Croatia this year. “There is often violence involved, and there are reports of police telling refugees to follow the railway tracks towards Šid, which is a way to Serbia,” Tadić said. She added that her association had received witness testimony about the continuation of the expulsions even after Madina’s death.

Gordan Bosanac from the Centre for Peace Studies said they had been waiting for 30 days for Croatia’s Interior Ministry to provide stronger evidence about its version of the tragic incident. “They claim that the police, using thermal vision cameras, observed the family on Serbian territory where the accident occurred and that the family was not on the territory of Croatia,” Bosanac said, urging the Interior Ministry to release the video and clear up the ambiguities around the event.

But, the problem is far more profound, because there has been no citizen control over the police for more than a year, given that the Parliamentary Committee on Internal Affairs and National Security has not elected candidates who are supposed to control secret services independently.

The NGOs noted that the criminal report was not aimed at the entire police force, but just against the unprofessional behaviour of individuals. “We are aware that among police officers there are many professional people who do not support and encourage these acts. We call on them, if they have received orders to behave in this manner, to resist. It is in the interest of professional police officers to resolve this case as soon as possible,” said Bosanac.

After reports in the Croatian media, who followed up on the Guardian’s article about the death of an Afghan girl in a train crash near the border, the Interior Ministry announced on 8 December that the actions of the Croatian border police did not in any way cause the accident.


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