NGOs Supporting Refugees Feel Police Pressure

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, April 18, 2018 – The nongovernmental organisations “Are you Syrious” and the Centre for Peace Studies (CMS) and representatives of a law firm hired to protect refugees’ rights said on Wednesday that the Ministry of the Interior and police were exerting pressure on them with the aim of diverting the public’s attention from an investigation into the death of six-year-old Afghan migrant girl Madina Hosseini.

The police have been exerting pressure for some time, particularly in the last two weeks since the girl’s family arrived in Croatia, Gordan Bosanac of the CMS told a news conference.

The NGOs said that Madina’s family had been deported from Croatia at least twice, and that on one of the occasions the girl was killed by a train passing along the Tovarnik-Šid railway, which prompted her family to sue unidentified members of Croatian police forces through a legal team from Croatia.

Attorneys Sanja Bezbradica Jelavić and Ivo Jelavić, who also attended the news conference, said that police had banned them from contacting Madina’s family despite a power of attorney which the family had previously signed in front of five witnesses in Šid, Serbia, authorising the attorneys to legally represent them.

Jelavić said that he could not remember a case in which the Ministry of the Interior would prevent communication between a detained person and their chosen lawyer, concluding that this was an attempt to shift the public’s attention from the investigation into Croatian police officers’ responsibility for the girl’s death to alleged irregularities regarding their power of attorney.

The attorneys also reported having received a phone call from an unknown person who inquired about Sanja Bezbradica Jelavić’s ethnic background, which they consider to be an act of pressure as well.

The two NGOs reported cited the case of one of their activists against whom the police will file a misdemeanour report for helping Madina’s family illegally cross the Serbia-Croatia border. The activist in question was sent to help the Hosseini family on March 21 after the family contacted the two NGOs and said that they were in Croatia’s territory and needed their help.

The NGOs said that they reported this to the police and that the activist who had been sent to help the family contacted the police and gave a statement, but was informed two weeks later that he would be reported for a misdemeanour.

Tanja Tadić of the Are You Syrious NGO wondered how their activist could have helped the refugee family to illegally cross the border if he was with police officers all the time. She believes that this is an act of revenge by the police given that the activist’s presence prevented a new deportation of the family.

Bosanac said that they had been interviewed by the police after on Tuesday they announced that they would hold a news conference, which he considers to be yet another example of police pressure. “The Ministry of the Interior is evidently pressuring us and the attorneys with the aim of deporting the family and stopping the proceedings the Hosseini family has launched against the police,” said Bosanac.

He said that he would request a parliamentary inquiry commission to investigate the case and warn the European Commission that Croatia’s planned entry into the Schengen area was incompatible with the police practice as demonstrated in this case.


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