ZAGREB, December 11 (Hina) – Croatian Minister of the Interior, Davor Božinović, on Tuesday dismissed accusations by Human Rights Watch (HRW) levelled against Croatian law enforcement authorities about police violence against migrants.
“The Croatian police protect the Croatian border, protect the European Union’s external border in compliance with the Croatian laws and Schengen Zone rules. They have done that and are doing that in a professional manner. Had it not been so, Croatia would not have received commendations from the relevant members of the EU institutions for the way it is coping with the migrant crisis,” Božinović said in Marrakesh on Tuesday.
The New York-based HRW says that Croatian police are turning migrants back to Bosnia and Herzegovina, in some cases violently, denying them the opportunity to apply for asylum. The organisation interviewed 20 people, including 11 heads of families and one unaccompanied boy, who said that Croatian police deported them to Bosnia and Herzegovina without due process after detaining them deep inside Croatian territory.
In response to this criticism, Minister Božinović said that all those objections had been made by people whose attempts to enter Croatia illegally were foiled.
The police check any reported case of violence and maybe somebody would be happier if we managed to find some evidence, but we haven’t found anything to corroborate the accusations, the minister said.
Asked by the press if it is possible to safeguard the border without the use of force, he answered that “the police are trained to do so.”
He underscored that the Global Compact for the Safe, Orderly and Regular Migrations, endorsed in Marrakesh on Monday, made a distinction between migrants and refugees, and that the majority of those coming to the Croatian borders are not refugees but migrants for economic reasons.
More news on Croatia’s migration policies can be found in our Politics section.