ZAGREB, May 16, 2019 – A Swiss broadcaster on Wednesday showed footage of Croatian police pushing back migrants to neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina and migrants saying that police had seized their mobile phones and money.
Croatian police have been faced for some time with accusations that they unlawfully return migrants who reach Croatia’s territory to Bosnia and Herzegovina instead of giving them the opportunity to seek asylum in Croatia. The accusations also include allegations of physical abuse and theft.
The Croatian Foreign Ministry has dismissed the allegations.
In its political programme “Rundschau”, the SRF broadcaster showed footage of police bringing a group of migrants in a van to a border crossing and sending them back to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Reporters secretly filmed the push-back operations for two days. In those operations, 70 migrants, mostly from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Algeria were sent back to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The migrants told reporters that Croatian police had destroyed their mobile phones and taken their money and that they had used force against them.
A migrant said that when asked if they could seek asylum in Croatia, a police officer told them that they would get “Bosnian asylum”.
The location where Croatian police were filmed while pushing back migrants in late April is said to be near the village of Gradine.
The Croatian Ministry of the Interior said in response to the SRF programme that the footage showed “an official operation that is in line with the Schengen Borders Code and is designed to prevent illegal entries into the EU.”
However, German migration expert Marcus Engler says that this is a clear case of violation of European and international law because group expulsions are not allowed without a prior procedure. Engler says that Croatia is not the only one to blame for such practice and that the entire EU is responsible.
Croatian border police are financed with European money. Other countries support such conduct because they profit from it politically, Engler told the SRF.
The European Commission has declined comment on the footage made available to it by the SFR.
More news about the migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.