ZAGREB, October 1, 2019 – The UN rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe Gonzalez Morales, on Tuesday called on Bosnian authorities to ensure adequate accommodation for migrants and accused Croatian police of the alleged mistreatment and pushback of migrants to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
He wrote a report after visiting BiH for several days to find out first-hand the scope of the migrant crisis in the country. He presented the report at a press conference in Sarajevo.
I received reliable information on the pushback of migrants and asylum seekers by the Croatian border police on BiH territory, he said in the report, adding that according to the statements he was given, many migrants were pushed back to the BiH border without any official procedure.
Concrete tactics are different, but a common pattern is catching people on the move, confiscating their belongings, notably communication devices, hitting people with batons and chasing them with dogs to physically exhaust and prevent them from attempting to cross the border again, he said.
A number of men, according to the statements, were undressed, beaten and forced to walk back to BiH barefoot, he added.
The special rapporteur said the abuse by the Croatian border police clearly represented a violation of those persons’ human rights.
He concluded that such conduct had no real effect because it did not deter migrants from their intention to continue on towards the European Union, but only resulted in the thriving of smuggling networks and organised crime, which he said demanded urgent attention and action by all the countries in the region.
The rapporteur says in the report that he discussed this problem with Croatian Ambassador to BiH Ivan Sabolić, that he will continue the dialogue with Croatia’s authorities, and that he expects to receive informed soon that the situation has improved.
The report says that 40,000 illegal migrants entered BiH from the start of 2018 to August 2019, that 7,300 are in the country now, while the rest have managed to head west.
The rapporteur warned that children are especially in danger. They make up 20% of migrants and one in three arrived in BiH without parents.
BiH authorities were asked to improve conditions in reception centres, notably in Una-Sana Canton, where the largest number of migrants is concentrated.
The fragmented political structure, the lack of a uniform vision and will by the authorities at different levels for genuine cooperation undermine the human rights of migrants and asylum seekers, Gonzalez Morales said at the press conference.
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