NGOs again Report Croatian Police Abuse against Asylum-Seekers

Total Croatia News

Reports on unlawful and violent push-backs of refugees from Croatia to Serbia reported NGOs active both in Croatia and Serbia.

In 2015, the biggest refugee crisis since the mid 20th century reached Eastern Europe and subsequently created what has become known as the Balkan route – a route along which refugees moved towards Central Europe, first on foot and later transported by government-organized buses and trains. The Balkan route has since been closed, following an agreement reached by the EU and Turkey on refugee exchange. After the closure, some eight thousand refugees were left stranded in Serbia, in wretched conditions, often living on the street or in abandoned buildings and warehouses. Some of them have tried to cross the border to seek asylum in Croatia.

According to two previous reports already published this year by Croatian NGOs Are You Syrious? (AYS) and the Centre for Peace studies (CMS), the refugees are met by unlawful and forced push-backs by Croatian police. The NGOs conducted interviews with refugees in Belgrade who tried crossing the Serbian border to Croatia and seek asylum, either at border crossings or, after passing the green border, at first point of contact with the Croatian police.

Under Article 14(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to seek and enjoy asylum. Once a person expresses intention to seek asylum to the authorities, they must immediately take and process their asylum claim. Anyone who seeks asylum is at that point legally in that country and may await a decision on their asylum claim there.

However, since the start of this year, NGOs started recording cases of refugees expressing intention to seek asylum to the police, only to be refused that right and returned to the border where they are forced to walk back across the border into Serbia.

The two reports also contain claims of refugees being physically and psychologically abused by the police, their property destroyed or confiscated. In some cases, the refugees are also reportedly forced to sign documents in a language they are unable to understand, or those documents are signed by officials on their behalf.

In Serbia, medical aid organizations such as Doctors of the World (MDM) and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) confirm these reports and note an increase in violence on the part of Croatian police. CMS and AYS are now issuing a new, third report on unlawful and illegal push-backs of refugees and violent beatings with batons carried by the police.

Yesterday, CMS reported on a case of five unaccompanied minors who twice tried to flee Croatia with the help of smugglers, only to be caught and allegedly physically attacked by the police. The police denied these allegations today, saying that no cases of unprofessional or unlawful policing towards refugees have been reported so far.

More details from the latest NGO report will be available on Monday after the official press conference.


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment