Božinović Rejects Accusations Against Croatian Police over Treatment of Migrants

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, January 28, 2020 – Croatian Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović in Brussels on Monday dismissed accusations levelled against Croatian border police over their treatment of migrants, saying there was no evidence to support the claims made by members of the European Parliament.

Božinović and Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković outlined the priorities of the Croatian EU presidency in their respective departments before the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

Most of the remarks made by Committee members concerned the treatment of migrants by the Croatian border police. Several of them showed photographs of adults and children with bruises and injuries suffered at the hands of the Croatian police.

Cornelia Ernst of the German Left Party showed a photograph of a man claiming to have been bitten by a police dog. She said that the man had begged the police to stop the dog and that the police had eventually applauded to the dog.

Several MEPs said they had been told by migrants that the police had used stun guns against them.

“Police dogs must wear muzzles, and as for stun guns, Croatian police don’t have them at all. These are false accusations,” Božinović replied.

He said that migrants who are trying to enter Croatia illegally do not carry any documents with them. “If someone needs international protection, why would they hide their identity?” he asked.

Božinović said that Croatia was facing a large number of migrants trying to cross its border illegally. He said that those people were now mostly economic migrants and to a lesser extent refugees, who he said were the most numerous at the height of the refugee crisis in 2015 and 2016.

“Those people are trying to reach wealthy western member states. We have the longest land border, and the other two member states with which we share the border have put up razor-wire fencing. We have to deal, on a daily basis, with people who don’t want to stay in Croatia but want to go to western member states which are reluctant to take them in. If they were willing to accept them, we might be able to help, but I haven’t heard that anyone wants to take them in. Instead, you blame the Croatian police, but I assure you that you won’t find evidence to support your claims,” Božinović said.

He noted that this was not a small group but hundreds of thousands or millions of people on the move in search of a better life in the west.

“I sympathise with people who want a better life for themselves, but we in the EU must agree what to do with them, because we are talking about millions of people,” the Croatian minister said.

Responding to accusations of violent pushbacks of migrants by the Croatian police, Božinović said that Croatian police act in line with Croatian and European law. “None of the statements about the allegedly improper conduct of the Croatian police was made in Croatia, they were all made in Bosnia and Herzegovina or Serbia and without any evidence or at least approximate information as to where and when (such incidents) occurred,” he added.

“Europe must take a stand on migration as one of the key issues for the future of the European project. We are not talking about small groups of people, but about hundreds of thousands and millions. We must start differentiating between things, that those who need international protection get it and those who want to live in the west can do so and that’s legitimate, but no one has the obligation to make that possible for them,” Božinović told the press after the debate in the European Parliament.

More news about the migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.


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