ZAGREB, February 17, 2018 – National police director Nikola Milina on Friday sent Ombudswoman Lora Vidović a letter saying that a nine-year old Afghan boy to whom she referred to in documentation sent to police was accompanied by his father and that the “police never deported any unaccompanied child” but “acted in line with applicable legal provisions.”
Milina notes in the letter that, after the ombudswoman delivered the relevant documentation on this particular case, showing that the child in question was an Afghani born in 2008, it was established that the child was accompanied by his father (born in 1986) when the police in Tovarnik, easternmost Croatia, issued them with a decision obliging them to return across the border.
In cases of minors accompanied or unaccompanied, generally measures are more lenient and when a decision of return is issued, it means that the migrants in question are given a deadline by which to leave the country on their own, but the decision itself does not contain a ban of entry or stay, the migrants are not forcibly returned or placed in an asylum centre, Milina explained. This is the procedure that was applied in the specific case, he added.
“With reference to the question of determining identity and paternity… that is possible based on a public document with a photograph that irregular migrants do not possess or, based on a statutory declaration. “In this particular case, the Ministry was not obliged and could not have determined paternity as the foreigners immediately left the Tovarnik police station after being issued with the decision to return,” Milina said.
Earlier in the day, the Office of the Ombudswoman said that information regarding the police treatment of a nine-year-old unaccompanied migrant “is an example of disregard for rules.” The office recalled that it first warned the Interior Ministry about the police treatment of the 9-year-old unaccompanied migrant in June 2017.
On Thursday, Interior Minister Davor Božinović told reporters that no police records were found concerning the alleged deportation of the unaccompanied minor.