Interior Ministry Rejects Human Rights Watch’s Claims

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Human Rights Watch said that Croatian police was not protecting asylum seekers and was forcibly transferring them to Serbia.

Interior Ministry has reported that claims by Human Rights Watch (HRW), that Croatian police was maltreating and forcibly sending asylum seekers back to Serbia, are falsehoods and insinuations, reports HRT on January 20, 2017..

HRW’s claims were based on interviews with ten Afghan nationals, which is not relevant due to the fact that in 2016 there were 2,235 registered applicants for international protection. By comparison, a year earlier there were 211 registered asylum-seekers, so that was an increase of 959 percent compared to the previous year. Furthermore, by the end of 2016, protection was approved for 273 persons (186 asylum, 87 subsidiary protection), reported the Ministry of Interior.

“We emphasize that security challenges arising from the problem of migrants are related to the issue of various criminal activities such as human trafficking, which are activities to which the Interior Ministry must adequately respond. Also, the conduct of the police at the borders towards migrants cannot be called a crisis, since it is part of normal police activities. Therefore, it can be concluded that Croatia is a humane and safe country”, reads the statement posted on the Interior Ministry’s website.

Interior Ministry points out that the police reacted as quickly as possible to all cases of violence towards asylum-seekers. “The proof is the completed criminal investigation by the Zagreb Police Department of two men on suspicion of having committed the criminal act of violence against one Libyan and one Syrian citizen on 31 December 2016, with charges being submitted to the State Attorney’s Office. We note that Croatia is a candidate country for admission to the Schengen Area and the Interior Ministry is undertaking intensive preparations for the Schengen evaluation. Therefore, in addition to the harmonization of national legislation with the Schengen rules, we organize, independently and together with other bodies and organizations (UNHCR, for example), regular training of police officers on the subject of access to the system of international protection and the protection of fundamental human rights. Also, in November 2016, representatives of the Ombudsperson repeatedly visited the Croatian border police on the border with Serbia and have not found any significant irregularities”, announced the Ministry.


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