• EU ’covered up’ Croatia’s failure to protect migrants from border brutality

    Exclusive: Brussels officials feared disclosing Zagreb’s lack of commitment to monitoring would cause ‘scandal’

    EU officials have been accused of an “outrageous cover-up” after withholding evidence of a failure by Croatia’s government to supervise #police repeatedly accused of robbing, abusing and humiliating migrants at its borders.

    Internal European commission emails seen by the Guardian reveal officials in Brussels had been fearful of a backlash when deciding against full disclosure of Croatia’s lack of commitment to a monitoring mechanism that ministers had previously agreed to fund with EU money.

    Ahead of responding to inquiries from a senior MEP in January, a commission official had warned a colleague that the Croatian government’s failure to use money earmarked two years ago for border police “will for sure be seen as a ‘scandal’”.

    Supervision of the behaviour of border officers had been the condition set on a larger grant of EU funds to Croatia. There have been multiple allegations of violent pushbacks of migrants and refugees by Croatian police on the border with Bosnia, including an incident in which a migrant was shot.

    In response to allegations of a cover-up, an EC spokesman told the Guardian that what was known had been withheld from MEPs as the information was believed to have been “incomplete”.
    Crosses on our heads to ’cure’ Covid-19: refugees report abuse by Croatian police
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    It throws a spotlight on both the Croatian government’s human rights record and the apparent willingness of the EU’s executive branch to cover for Zagreb’s failure.

    Croatia is seeking to enter the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone – a move that requires compliance with European human rights standards at borders.

    Despite heated denials by the Croatian authorities, the latest border incident has been described by aid workers as the most violent in the Balkan migration crisis. On 26 May, 11 Pakistani and five Afghan men were stopped by a group wearing black uniforms and balaclavas in the Plitvice Lakes, 16km (10 miles) into Croatia from the Bosnian border.

    “The men in uniforms tied each of the Pakistanis and Afghanis around a tree, so their wrists were bound and they had to turn their faces toward the trees,” according to a report from the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), which provides healthcare for migrants in Bosnia. “Once these people were unable to move, the men in uniforms fired several shots in the air with guns placed close to the ears of the Pakistanis and Afghanis. There were also shots fired close to their legs.’’

    “They kept shooting. They were shooting so closely that the stones under our feet were flying and being blown to pieces,” one of the men told the Guardian. “They kept saying: ‘I want to beat and kill you.’ They tortured us for three to four hours.”

    The council’s report says electro-shockers were placed on people’s necks and heads. “One of the men in uniform was cutting several victims with knives and the same person inflicted cuts on both of the palms of one person.”

    One asylum seeker said that one of the men put his knee on his neck, then cut at him with a blade. ‘‘He sliced the index finger of my left hand, and blood started spurting out like a small shower,’’ he said. “Then he smiled and cut my middle finger followed by my palm with a larger cut. The whole hand is swollen beyond recognition.”

    After a while, the men in balaclavas called other uniformed officers.

    According to the victims and a report by the DRC, “before the police arrival, one of the men in uniform made a film with his mobile phone, while others in his company were laughing, yelling and provoking”.

    Upon the arrival of police officers, the migrants were put into vans and taken to the border at Šiljkovača, a village close to Velika Kladuša. Police officers did not beat them, but ordered them into Bosnian territory.

    “All of them had bleeding wounds on their heads and numerous bruises on various parts of the body,” Nicola Bay, the DRC country director for Bosnia, told the Guardian. “Four of them had broken arms and one had a broken leg and both arms.”

    Contacted by the Guardian, the Croatian police denied the allegations and suggested that asylum seekers could have fabricated the account and that the wounds could be the result of “a confrontation among migrants” that took place ‘‘on 28 May in the vicinity of the Croatian border, near Cazin’’.

    Volunteers and charities who have treated migrants involved in the fight in Cazin, said the two incidents are unrelated and happened two days apart. Those involved in the fight in Cazin have not claimed they were attacked by the police.

    The establishment of supervisory mechanisms to ensure the humane treatment of migrants at the border had been a condition of a €6.8m (£6.1m) cash injection announced in December 2018 to strengthen Croatia’s borders with non-EU countries.

    The mechanism was publicised by the European commission as a way to “ensure that all measures applied at the EU external borders are proportionate and are in full compliance with fundamental rights and EU asylum laws”.

    Croatian ministers claimed last year that the funds had been handed over to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Croatian Law Centre to establish the supervisory mechanism.

    Both organisations deny receiving the money.

    In January this year, the commission was asked by Clare Daly, an Irish MEP in the Independents 4 Change party, to account for the discrepancy.

    A commission official responded that the UNCHR and Croatian Law Centre had established the monitoring mechanism but from “their own funds” to ensure independence from the government.

    He added: “Hopefully [this] clarifies this matter once and for all”.

    But both organisations have again denied being involved in any monitoring project, clarifying that they had only been engaged in an earlier initiative involving the examination of police files.

    Beyond the apparent inaccuracy of the response to Daly, internal emails suggest the full facts of the “underspending” – as its known to the commission – were also withheld.

    The EC failed to inform Daly that the Croatian government had decided to ring-fence only €102,000 of the €300,000 provided for the monitoring mechanism and that ultimately only €84,672 was actually spent – €17,469.87 was given to the interior ministry and €59,637.91 went to NGOs. A roundtable conference accounted for €1,703.16.

    “While we know that there has been underspending on the €300,000 … we thought that around € 240,000 were nevertheless spent in the context of the monitoring mechanism,” an EU official had written while discussing how to deal with the MEP’s questions. “Having spent only EUR 102,000, will for sure be seen as a ‘scandal’.”

    The commission did not pass on information on the spending to Daly but privately officials agreed to seek answers urgently. They also discussed in a phone and email exchange the possibility of intervening in the member state’s planned report due to the poor handling of the matter by the Croatian government.

    “Seeing how unfortunate [Croatia] is presenting this issue, [Croatia] definitively needs (your?) help in putting some ‘final touches’ to the report,” an official in the commission’s migration department wrote to a colleague. “Will [Croatia] provide you with an advance copy of the final report?”

    Daly told the Guardian: “It is outrageous – the commission appears to be colluding with the Croatian authorities in a cover-up.”

    An EC spokesperson said the EU’s executive branch was committed to the establishment of a fully independent border monitoring mechanism.

    The spokesperson said: “We would caution against drawing misleading conclusions from reading the internal email exchanges in isolation.”

    He added: “The Croatian authorities are explaining in their final implementation report how the monitoring mechanism was established, how it works in practice and outline the results.

    “Given that the report submitted by the Croatian authorities was incomplete, the commission asked the Croatian authorities for clarifications first in writing and orally regarding outstanding issues (eg factual data confirming the achievements of the project indicators relating to internal controls and trainings).”

    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/jun/15/eu-covered-up-croatias-failure-to-protect-migrants-from-border-brutalit
    #complicité #EU #UE #Croatie #violence #réfugiés #asile #migrations #violence #violences #hauts_fonctionnaires #fonds #argent #gardes_frontière #route_des_Balkans #frontières #Plitvice_Lakes #commission_européenne #Union_européenne #couverture

    • Report from Centre for Peace Studies on the pushback of children

      On 29th May 2020, the Centre for Peace Studies – a key member of the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) – presented a new report alongside the Welcome! Initiative. Addressing the Croatian Government, the “Report on violent and illegal expulsions of children and unaccompanied children” is based on testimonies collected by activists through the BVMN shared database. The publication shares the story of children who sought protection from Croatia, and how Croatia answered in violence.

      “We came to the door of Prime Minister Plenković and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Božinović, who have been turning their backs on testimonies and accusations for years and silently pursuing a policy of flattering the European Union. Even the most vulnerable are not excluded from violence – children “, said Tea Vidović on behalf of the Welcome! Initiative.

      The report submitted to the Government by the organizations provides testimonies of children and their families and unaccompanied children on violent and illegal methods that they had to experience at the hands of police authorities. This illegal and inhuman behavior violates national laws, international law and human rights, prevents access to international protection and, most importantly, marks children’s lives. Although the Government of the Republic of Croatia and the Ministry of the Interior should take into account the special vulnerability of children, respect their rights and best interests, children experience police brutality and limitation of their freedom for hours without access to water and food.

      “While the government uses every opportunity to emphasize the importance of border protection, we wonder in which way is police protecting Croatian borders? By beating children, confiscating their personal belongings, locking children in police vans for several hours in which they are exposed to extremely high or extremely low temperatures, shooting and using electric shocks, is this how the police protect Croatian borders? ”, points out Ana Ćuća.

      The exact number of children who are victims of police brutality remains unknown. BVMN has reported 209 cases of violent and illegal expulsions of children from Croatia since 2017, while Save the Children recorded 2969 expulsions of children at the borders in the Western Balkans during the first 9 months of last year.

      Two cases are currently pending at the European Court of Human Rights against Croatia, both involving violence and pushback. The first is the case of the family of the tragically late six-year-old girl Madina Hussiny, who was killed at the Croatian-Serbian border. The second includes pushbacks, illegal detention and inhumane treatment of a 17-year-old Syrian boy by Croatian police, who was pushed back to Bosnia and Herzegovina despite seeking asylum in Croatia.

      The latest report presented is the sixth report on violent and illegal expulsions published in the last four years, and it is the collective work of the Centre for Peace Studies, the Society for Psychological Assistance, the Welcome! Initiative and the Border Violence Monitoring Network. It also brings a short graphic novel based on the story of little #Madina, a young girl killed in transit, for whose death no one has yet been held accountable.

      Therefore, the organisations ask the Government and the Ministry of the Interior to finally take responsibility and for those who sanction and carry out systematic violence. Responsible institutions are obliged to investigate those who commit violence and push back children in need of protection. All children deserve justice and protection.

      https://www.borderviolence.eu/report-from-centre-for-peace-studies-on-the-pushback-of-children
      #enfants #enfance #mineurs

      Pour télécharger le #rapport:
      https://www.cms.hr/system/article_document/doc/647/Pushback_report_on_children_and_unaccompanied_children_in_Croatia.pdf

    • Policiers croates accusés de violences contre des migrants : l’UE réclame une "enquête approfondie’’

      Après avoir été interpellée par Amnesty International sur la « violence » des policiers croates à l’égard des migrants, la Commission européenne a réclamé à Zagreb une « enquête approfondie ». L’institution prévoit d’envoyer une mission sur place, quand la situation sanitaire le permettra.

      L’Union européenne est sortie de son ’’silence’’ au sujet des accusations de violences contre des migrants perpétrées par la police croate. Vendredi 12 juin, la Commission européenne a réclamé à Zagreb une "#enquête_approfondie'' à la suite de la publication d’un rapport à charge de l’ONG Amnesty International dénonçant des #passages_à_tabac, des #tortures et des tentatives d’#humiliation de la part de policiers croates (https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/25339/on-les-suppliait-d-arreter-de-nous-frapper-ils-chantaient-et-riaient-l).

      « Nous sommes très préoccupés par ces allégations », a déclaré un porte-parole de l’exécutif européen, Adalbert Jahnz. « La #violence, l’humiliation et les #traitements_dégradants des demandeurs d’asile et migrants n’ont pas leur place dans l’Union européenne et doivent être condamnés », a-t-il assuré.

      L’Union européenne avait été directement interpellée par Amnesty International dans son rapport. Ce document affirme que 16 migrants, qui tentaient d’entrer illégalement en Croatie, ont été « ligotés, brutalement battus et torturés » pendant plusieurs heures par des forces de l’ordre, dans la nuit du 26 au 27 mai. « L’Union européenne ne peut plus rester silencieuse et ignorer délibérément les violences et les abus commis par la police croate à la frontière », avait déclaré Massimo Moratti, directeur adjoint de l’antenne européenne de l’ONG.

      https://twitter.com/Jelena_Sesar/status/1271044353629335553?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E12

      Une mission sur place quand la situation sanitaire le permettra

      L’exécutif européen a également indiqué être « en contact étroit » avec les autorités croates qui « se sont engagées à enquêter » sur ces accusations de mauvais traitements à leur frontière avec la Bosnie (https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/18721/plusieurs-migrants-retrouves-blesses-a-la-frontiere-entre-la-bosnie-et). « Nous attendons que ces accusations fassent l’objet d’une enquête approfondie et que toutes les actions nécessaires soient prises », a poursuivi le porte-parole.

      La Commission prévoit aussi d’envoyer, quand la situation sanitaire le permettra, une mission sur place, dans le cadre d’un mécanisme de surveillance du respect des droits fondamentaux par les autorités aux frontières lié à l’allocation de fonds européens.

      Le ministère croate de l’Intérieur a, de son côté, immédiatement démenti ces accusations, en ajoutant cependant qu’une enquête serait ouverte.

      Des milliers de migrants empruntent chaque année la « route des Balkans » pour essayer de rejoindre l’Europe occidentale. La plupart passent par la Croatie, pays membre de l’UE, le plus souvent en provenance de la Bosnie.


      https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/25354/policiers-croates-accuses-de-violences-contre-des-migrants-l-ue-reclam

    • Croatia: Fresh evidence of police abuse and torture of migrants and asylum-seekers

      In a horrifying escalation of police human rights violations at the Croatian border with Bosnia, a group of migrants and asylum seekers was recently bound, brutally beaten and tortured by officers who mocked their injuries and smeared food on their bleeding heads to humiliate them, Amnesty International has revealed today.

      Amnesty International spoke to six men among a group of 16 Pakistani and Afghan asylum-seekers who were apprehended by the Croatian police on the night between 26 and 27 May near Lake Plitvice, as they tried to cross the country to reach Western Europe.

      Between eight and ten people wearing black uniforms and balaclavas identical to those used by Croatia’s Special Police, fired their weapons in the air, kicked and repeatedly hit the restrained men with metal sticks, batons and pistol grips. They then rubbed ketchup, mayonnaise and sugar that they found in one of the backpacks on migrants’ bleeding heads and hair and their trousers. Amnesty International also spoke to doctors who treated the men and NGOs who witnessed their injuries.

      “The European Union can no longer remain silent and wilfully ignore the violence and abuses by Croatian police on its external borders. Their silence is allowing, and even encouraging, the perpetrators of this abuse to continue without consequences. The European Commission must investigate the latest reports of horrifying police violence against migrants and asylum-seekers.” said Massimo Moratti, Deputy Director of the Europe Office, following the latest incident on the Croatian border.

      Physical and psychological abuse

      Amir from Pakistan told Amnesty: “We were pleading with them to stop and show mercy. We were already tied, unable to move and humiliated; there was no reason to keep hitting us and torturing us.” He said the armed men showed no sympathy. “They were taking photos of us with their phones, and were singing and laughing.” Amir had a broken arm and nose, stiches on the back of his head, and visible bruising all over his face and arms.

      Ten men suffered serious injuries that night. Thirty-year-old Tariq now has both of his arms and a leg in a cast, visible cuts and bruises on his head and face and is suffering from severe chest pain.

      “They did not give us a chance to say anything at all when they caught us. They just started hitting us. While I was lying on the ground, they hit my head with the back of a gun and I started bleeding. I tried to protect my head from the blows, but they started kicking me and hitting my arms with metal sticks. I was passing in and out of consciousness the rest of the night.” Tariq is now forced to use a wheelchair to move around and it will take months before he is able to move on his own again.

      The men told Amnesty International how they felt humiliated as militia rubbed mayonnaise and ketchup on to their bloody heads and faces. One masked man squirted mayonnaise on an asylum-seeker’s trousers between his legs, while others laughed and sang “Happy Birthday” around them.

      After almost five hours of continuous abuse, the migrants were handed over to the Croatian Border Police who transported them close to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina in two vans before ordering them to walk. “They were taken aback by our condition. We were drenched in blood and very shook up. We could barely stand, much less walk for hours to Bosnia. But they told us to go. They told us to carry the guys who couldn’t walk and just go.” Faisal told Amnesty.

      Some of the men eventually reached Miral, a reception centre run by the International Organization for Migration in Velika Kladusa in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but five, who were too weak to walk, stayed behind and were eventually picked up by an NGO operating in the camp.

      An emergency doctor at the medical clinic in Velika Kladusa who treated the men told Amnesty International that they all had injuries on the back of their heads which were consistent with a blow by a blunt object and required stiches. Most had multiple fractures, joint injuries, collapsed lungs, cuts and bruises and several were traumatized. Their recovery could take months.

      Routine violent pushbacks and torture by the Croatian police remain unpunished

      While only the latest in the series, the incident points to a new level of brutality and abuse by the Croatian police. In early May, the Guardian reported about a group of men who were forced across the Croatian border after being beaten and having orange crosses spray-painted on their heads. The Croatian Ministry of Interior dismissed the allegations, but the testimonies of violence and intimidation fit the trend of unlawful pushbacks taking place not only on the Croatian, but also on other external borders of the European Union.

      Numerous reports over the past three years have revealed how the Croatian border police routinely assault men, women and teenagers trying to enter the country, destroy their belongings and smash their phones before pushing them back to Bosnia. People are sometimes stripped of their clothes and shoes, and forced to walk for hours through snow and freezing cold rivers.

      A physician in the Velika Kladusa clinic told Amnesty International that approximately 60 per cent of migrants and asylum-seekers who required medical treatment reported that their injuries were inflicted by the Croatian police, while they were trying to cross the border. “Many injuries involve fractures of long bones and joints. These bones take longer to heal and their fractures render the patient incapacitated for extended periods of time. This appears to be a deliberate strategy – to cause injuries and trauma that take time to heal and would make people more reluctant to try to cross the border again or any time soon,” the physician told Amnesty International.

      The Croatian Ministry of Interior has so far dismissed these allegations, refusing to carry out independent and effective investigations into reported abuses or hold its officers to account. In a climate of pervasive impunity, unlawful returns and violence at the border have only escalated. Amnesty International has shared the details of this incident with the Ministry of Interior, but has not received an official response.

      The EU’s failure to hold Croatia to account

      The European Commission has remained silent in the face of multiple, credible reports of gross human rights abuses at the Croatian border and repeated calls by the European Parliament to investigate the allegations. Furthermore, Croatia remains a beneficiary of nearly EURO 7 million of EU assistance for border security, the vast majority of which is spent on infrastructure, equipping border police and even paying police salaries. Even the small proportion (EURO 300,000) that the Commission had earmarked for a mechanism to monitor that the border measures comply with fundamental rights and EU asylum laws, has been no more than a fig leaf. Last year, the Commission recommended Croatia’s full accession to the Schengen Area despite human rights abuses already being commonplace there.

      “The European Commission cannot continue to turn a blind eye to blatant breaches of EU law as people are being branded with crosses on their heads or brutally tortured and humiliated by Croatian police. We expect nothing less than the condemnation of these acts and an independent investigation into reported abuses, as well as the establishment of an effective mechanism to ensure that EU funds are not used to commit torture and unlawful returns. Failing urgent action, Croatia’s inhumane migration practices will turn the EU into an accomplice in major human rights violations taking place at its doorstep,” said Massimo Moratti.

      Violent pushbacks from Croatian border have been a regular occurrence since late 2017. The Danish Refugee Council recorded close to 7,000 cases of forcible deportations and unlawful returns to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2019, most of which were accompanied by reported violence and intimidation by Croatian police. Despite the brief respite during the lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic, pushbacks continue with 1600 cases reported only in April. The figures are increasing daily, as the restrictions across the region are being lifted and the weather is turning milder.

      Amnesty International has interviewed over 160 people who have been pushed back or returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina since July 2018. Nearly one third reported being beaten, having their documents and telephones stolen, and verbally abused in what appears to be a deliberate policy designed to deter future attempts to enter the country.

      https://www.amnesty.eu/news/croatia-fresh-evidence-of-police-abuse-and-torture-of-migrants-and-asylum-se
      #rapport #Amnesty_international

    • Croatia, police abuse is systemic

      While the world is outraged and protests after George Floyd’s death to denounce institutionalised violence, migrants have been beaten and tortured on the Balkan route for years. A brutal practice often covered up, even by the EU itself.

      George Floyd’s death on May 25th sparked protests around the world against police violence and institutional racism. In the Balkans as elsewhere, sit-ins have been held in support of #BlackLivesMatter , followed by calls to report abuses committed locally by the police. And in the region there is no lack of such abuses. In fact, police violence is routine on the “Balkan route”, the flow of migrants and refugees that has crossed the peninsula since 2015 in the hope of reaching the European Union. The events of the past few weeks have unfortunately confirmed once again the link between police brutality and immigration, bringing us back to the Croatian-Bosnian border. It is a story of systemic abuse, both proven and covered up, which involves a member state of the EU, candidate for accession to the Schengen area and, according to the latest revelations of The Guardian, the European Commission itself.
      Torture in Croatia

      When it comes to police abuse on the Croatian-Bosnian border, one does not really know where to start. The accidents recorded in recent years are so many that we can no longer even speak of “accidents”, or unexpected events. On the contrary, violence is rather a common practice, the only news being the increase in brutality by the agents, who have gone from illegal pushbacks to outright torture.

      “We rarely use the word ’torture’ in Europe, but in this case we had to”, explains Massimo Moratti, deputy director of the Europe office of Amnesty International (AI). Last week, AI published yet another report of the mistreatment of migrants by the Croatian police along the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mistreatment is an understatement. The testimonies collected no longer speak of broken mobile phones, or – as has happened more recently – destroyed with a screwdriver to prevent recharging, but instead contain “actual sadism”, as Moratti puts it.

      The case in question is that of 16 Pakistani and Afghan asylum seekers arrested by the Croatian police near the Plitvice lakes between May 26th and 27th. Their testimony is chilling. “We asked them to stop and show mercy. We were already tied up, there was no reason to continue hitting and torturing us", Amir told Amnesty International. Singing and filming on mobile phones, the agents continued to beat the 16 unfortunate men hard, finally smearing their wounds with ketchup and mayonnaise found in the backpack of one of the migrants. Eventually, the group was brought back to the border and forced to walk to Bosnia. Those who were unable to walk, because they are now in a wheelchair, had to be transported by others.

      “It is a pattern, a trend. These are the same practices that we have already seen in Hungary in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Dogs, sticks, broken bones... The goal is to intimidate and frighten so that no one tries to cross the border anymore", resumes Massimo Moratti, who adds: “the fractures we saw in the latter case will take months to heal”. The Amnesty International report and the attached photos tell the rest.
      Four years of violence

      How did we get to this? It is useful to make a brief summary of recent years to understand the evolution of violence. First, the “Balkan route” became a media phenomenon in the summer of 2015, when hundreds of thousands of Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans began to travel up the Balkan peninsula to reach the European Union. At the beginning, the destination of the route was Hungary, then, with the closure of the Hungarian wall, it became Croatia, which leads to Slovenia and then to the Schengen area. In 2015, Croatian policemen showed themselves to be tolerant and benevolent, as reminded by this cover of Jutarnji List .

      In the spring of 2016, the agreement between the EU and Turkey led to the closure of the Balkan route and a change of pace. “The first case of pushback is registered in 2016 on the Serbo-Croatian border. In 2017, we have the first cases of violence", says Antonia Pindulić, legal advisor to the Centre for Peace Studies (CMS) in Zagreb. At the end of 2017, Madina Hussiny, 6, died hit by a train while returning from Croatia to Serbia following the tracks. Together with her family, she had been illegally pushed back by the Croatian policemen.

      In the summer of 2018, the Croatian police fired on a van that carried 29 migrants and refused to stop. Nine people were injured and two minors ended up in hospital in serious conditions. Since then, it has been a crescendo of accidents, especially on the Croatian-Bosnian border, where what remains of the Balkan route passes. Here, the testimonies collected by NGOs speak of beatings, theft, destruction of mobile phones and, as always, illegal pushbacks. Then, the situation has deteriorated up to the torture of the last few weeks. All in the silence of the authorities.
      The silence of the institutions

      How could the Zagreb government not complete an investigation in four years, address the police abuse, punish the guilty? It just didn’t. In fact, Andrej Plenković’s government has just “denied everything” for four years, while “no investigation has produced results”, as Antonia Pindulić of CMS summarises. And this despite the fact that there have been complaints from NGOs and also the actions of the institutions themselves in Croatia.

      “In 2019, a group of policement wrote an anonymous letter to the Croatian Ombudswoman asking to be protected from having to carry out illegal orders”, recalls Pindulić. The agents then revealed the pushback technique: GPS off, communications only on Whatsapp or Viber, no official report. Also in 2019, then President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović had let slip , during an interview on Swiss television, that “of course, a little strength is needed when making pushbacks”. Later, she said she had been misunderstood.

      After dozens of complaints have fallen on deaf ears and after in 2018 the Ombudswoman, in her investigations, had been denied access to video surveillance videos with the excuse that they were lost, the CMS decided a couple of weeks ago to file a complaint “against unknown police officers” guilty of “degrading treatment and torture against 33 people” and “violent and illegal expulsion [of these people, ed.] from the territory of the Republic of Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina”. “We hope that the prosecutor will open an investigation and that people who have violated the law are identified. But since the institutions themselves have violated the law for four years, I don’t know what we can expect”, says Antonia Pindulić.

      The complaint filed brings together four cases, all of which occurred at the beginning of May 2020. “We suspect that the cases are linked to each other, as all the migrants and refugees involved have reported beatings, theft of their belongings, being stripped and, above all, having a cross drawn on their head with orange spray”, says Antonia Pindulić. This very detail had brought the story on the Guardian and sparked controversy in Croatia.
      Towards a turning point?

      In their brutality, the cases seem to repeat themselves without any change in sight. But the Croatian government may soon be forced to answer for what appears to be institutionalised violence. Not only the legal action taken by the CMS “could likely end in Strasbourg”, as Massimo Moratti of Amnesty International speculates, but a lawsuit filed by three Syrian refugees against Croatia reached the European Court of Human Rights at the end of the May . And last week, after the publication of the AI ​​report, the European Commission announced that an observation mission will be sent to Croatia.

      And there is more. This week, the Guardian also revealed that communications between officials of the European Commission show how the European body “covered up Croatia’s failure to protect migrants from brutality on the border”. In question are the European funding received from Zagreb for border security: 7 million Euros, of which 300,000 for the implementation of an independent control mechanism that should have supervised the work of the police. Not only has the mechanism never been implemented, but there have been contradictory communications in this regard, with the Commission declaring that UNHCR was part of the mechanism and the latter publicly denying at the end of 2019 .

      In short, although Brussels allocated a (small) budget for the control of the brutality of Croatian agents, the mechanism that was to be activated with those funds was never created. And the Commission is aware of this. How long, then, will the Plenković government manage to hide its system of violence on the Bosnian border?

      https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Areas/Croatia/Croatia-police-abuse-is-systemic-202952

      #violence_systémique

    • Croatia: Police brutality in migrant pushback operations must be investigated and sanctioned – UN Special Rapporteurs

      Croatia must immediately investigate reports of excessive use of force by law enforcement personnel against migrants, including acts amounting to torture and ill-treatment, and sanction those responsible, UN human rights experts said today.

      “We are deeply concerned about the repeated and ongoing disproportionate use of force by Croatian police against migrants in pushback operations. Victims, including children, suffered physical abuse and humiliation simply because of their migration status,” Felipe González Morales, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, and Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, said in a joint statement.

      They said physical violence and degrading treatment against migrants have been reported in more than 60 percent of all recorded pushback cases from Croatia between January and May 2020, and recent reports indicate the number of forced returns is rising.

      Abusive treatment of migrants has included physical beatings, the use of electric shocks, forced river crossings and stripping of clothes despite adverse weather conditions, forced stress positions, gender insensitive body searches and spray-painting the heads of migrants with crosses.

      “The violent pushback of migrants without going through any official procedure, individual assessment or other due process safeguards constitutes a violation of the prohibition of collective expulsions and the principle of non-refoulement,” González Morales said.

      “Such treatment appears specifically designed to subject migrants to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment as prohibited under international law. Croatia must investigate all reported cases of violence against migrants, hold the perpetrators and their superiors accountable and provide compensation for victims,” Melzer added.

      The UN Special Rapporteurs are also concerned that in several cases, Croatian police officers reportedly ignored requests from migrants to seek asylum or other protection under international human rights and refugee law.

      “Croatia must ensure that all border management measures, including those aimed at addressing irregular migration, are in line with international human rights law and standards, particularly, non-discrimination, the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment, the principle of non-refoulement and the prohibition of arbitrary or collective expulsions,” they said.

      During his official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina in September 2019, González Morales received information on violent pushback of migrants by Croatian police to Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has exchanged views with relevant Croatian authorities on this issue on several occasions. Already during his official visit to Serbia and Kosovo* in 2017, Melzer had received similar information from migrants reporting violent ill-treatment during pushback operations by the Croatian police.

      * All references to Kosovo should be understood to be in compliance with Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).

      https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25976&LangID=E

      #OHCHR

    • Dva policajca u pritvoru u Karlovcu zbog ozljeđivanja migranta - protiv njih pokrenut i disciplinski postupak

      Zbog sumnje u počinjenje kaznenih djela obojica su, uz kaznenu prijavu, dovedeni pritvorskom nadzorniku Policijske uprave karlovačke. Također, obojica su udaljeni iz službe, odgovoreno je na upit KAportala

      Dva policajca PU karlovačke nalaze se u pritvoru i to zbog sumnje u ozljeđivanje ilegalnog migranta, stranog državljanina.

      Na naš upit iz policije su nam rekli da je u četvrtak, 11. lipnja, u večernjim satima, tijekom utvrđivanja okolnosti nezakonitog ulaska u Republiku Hrvatsku, u policijsku postaju Slunj doveden strani državljanin na kojem su policijski službenici uočili da je ozlijeđen.

      https://kaportal.net.hr/aktualno/vijesti/crna-kronika/3836334/dva-policajca-u-karlovackom-pritvoru-zbog-ozljedjivanja-migranta-protiv

      Commentaire reçu via la mailing-list Inicijativa Dobrodosli, mail du 23.06.2020

      two police officers were arrested this week for injuring migrants. This is a big step for the Ministry of the Interior, but small for all cases that have not yet been investigated. However, it is important to emphasize that the violence we are witnessing is not the result of isolated incidents, but of systemic violence for which those who issue and those who carry out these illegal orders should be prosecuted.

  • Asylum seekers illegally returned from Italy to Slovenia, NGOs claim

    Two migrant-aid organizations are accusing authorities in northeastern Italy of illegally returning asylum seekers to Slovenia. They also claim that readmission procedures between Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia prevent people from asking for asylum in the EU.
    The Italian Consortium of Solidarity (ICS) and Catholic charity Caritas in Trieste published a statement on May 28, saying that they were strongly concerned about “the implementation of informal readmissions of migrants” from Italy to Slovenia.

    The two organizations provide housing to immigrants in the province of Trieste in northeastern Italy, near the border with Slovenia.

    ICS and Caritas said that it is illegal for authorities to return those who intend to apply for asylum. They said asylum requests must be registered before authorities check whether the applicant might have applied in another EU country. Under the Dublin Regulation, asylum seekers can be transferred back to the first EU country where they were registered.

    Migrants ’illegitimately sent away from EU’?

    ICS and Caritas also claimed that readmission procedures between Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia enabled authorities to “illegitimately turn away... those who have entered to apply for protection” from European Union territory. These people, “are subjected to grave violence throughout the so-called Balkan route,” they said in their statement.

    Pierpaolo Roberti, the security councilor of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, where Trieste is located, responded to the statement, saying that authorities will “move ahead with informal readmissions.” He said that the police and the prefect had his “full support.” Roberti belongs to the far-right League party, which is known for its harsh anti-migrant policies.

    He said he hopes that “as many people as possible continue to be readmitted to Slovenia and, in addition, that we strive to totally stop that migration flow.”


    https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/25114/asylum-seekers-illegally-returned-from-italy-to-slovenia-ngos-claim
    #Slovénie #Italie #push-back #push-backs #renvois #frontière_sud-alpine #refoulements #refoulement #Alpes #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés

    ping @isskein

    • AYS Special: Italian Court StopsDeportation to Slovenia, Meanwhile Pushbacks Continue

      Italy has become the latest link in chain push backs where literally thousands of people — often violently — end up in the overcrowded camps of Bosnia and Serbia.

      Contradictory approaches in Italy

      An Italian court stopped deportation to Slovenia on the grounds that there is a risk for an asylum seeker to be subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment due to the high possibility of him (or her) being further expelled to Croatia and then to Bosnia or Serbia. However, although the court stopped the deportation of a single individual, collective push-backs from Italy are becoming increasingly common in the months since the judgement made by the court in Genova (April 7th). Thus Italian courts are acknowledging the cruel and inhumane treatment that a returnee is subjected to but, on the other hand, the Italian government is massively increasing the scope of push-backs to Slovenia, as is evident in the recent decision to deploy the army with police jurisdiction.

      16.000 people were returned to Croatia from Slovenia in the last two years.

      These are people who were caught and were processed in police stations with charges of illegal border crossing. When a person asks for asylum in slovenia, he is often faced with threats or the asylum claim is simply ignored and in the official records he is reported as an “economic migrant” — a category invented by the Ministry of Interior and the Police and not encompassed by any law. If one is classified as an “economic migrant” who has no interest to seek asylum, he can be returned to Croatia under a bilateral readmission agreement from 2006.

      The Court in Italy is concerned over systemic deficiencies in the Slovene asylum system and finds real risk for an asylum seeker to be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment if deported to Slovenia. Meanwhile, reports of daily informal deportations from theItalian — Slovene border are becoming more and more common.

      COURT RULING: “…the risk of the applicant being subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment in Slovenia seems justified …

      In early April a court in Genoa, Italy found that:

      “Based on the submitted documentation and additional information obtained by this court proprio motu, the applicant’s complaint — given the conditions of receiving refugees in Slovenia and systemic shortcomings in the asylum procedure — seems justified. (…)

      In this case, the risk of the applicant being subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment in Slovenia seems justified (…) The data collected raise serious concerns about the reception and asylum system currently in force in Slovenia and in general about the atmosphere of cultural intolerance and discrimination prevailing in civil society, among government leaders and between police forces towards foreigners who have entered the country illegally, who have lodged or intend to lodge an application for international protection.”

      The complaint was lodged by a Pakistani asylum seeker, represented by Alessandra Ballerini, who had first filed the application for international protection in Slovenia and was consequently expected to be deported from Italy to Slovenia according to the Dublin regulation.

      The complaint stipulated that such a deportation would violate, inter alia, paragraph 2 of Article 3 of the Dublin Regulation due to systemic deficiencies in the asylum system in Slovenia. The court agreed and refused to deport the asylum seeker to Slovenia, “because of the danger that he would be treated there contrary to fundamental humanitarian principles and contrary to the provisions of Article 4 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights”.

      As reported by Primorski dnevnik, the judges came to this conclusion taking into account reports of non-governmental organizations on the deteriorating treatment of migrants in Slovenia in the past two years and a 2018 report by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which confirms allegations by non-governmental organizations of collective expulsions and violence against migrants in the Balkan region, including Croatia and Slovenia.

      Reports of several Slovenian and International NGOs and civil society actors (Amnesty International, Are You Syrious?, InfoKolpa, Border Violence Monitoring Network) highlight the issue of the Slovenian police authority’s illegal restrictions of access to asylum and practice of forced returns of asylum seekers without a proper assessment of whether their human rights would be violated in other countries via an informal procedure and without the possibility to appeal the deportation (push-backs).

      This was shown by several fact-finding missions: a survey from 2018 by Amnesty International obtained testimonies of 51 people in Velika Kladuša and Bihać in BiH, who were returned to the hands of the Croatian authorities by the Slovenian police, despite the fact that they wanted to apply for asylum in Slovenia.

      Report on illegal practices of collective expulsion at the Slovene-Croatian border by InfoKolpa documents numerous cases of groups of migrants rejected by Slovenian police and returned to Croatia and further to Bosnia despite explicitly showing intention to file for asylum in Slovenia between 11th September and 7th November 2018 via an Alarmphone report; reports by No Name Kitchen and Balkan Violence Monitoring show collective expulsion and violent return of asylum seekers to the Bosnian border surrounding Velika Kladuša as a routine occurrence initiated by Croatian and Slovenian police forces.

      In one year there were 4,653 out of a total of 9,149 intercepted migrants that were collectively deported to Croatia. The above-mentioned reports also cite further official statistics from the Slovenian police, which show a change in practice between May and June 2018, when returns to Croatia increased sharply, while at the same time the number of people applying for asylum dropped severely. Police statistic from police station of a border town Črnomelj state that in May 2018, 371 of the 379 migrants considered (97.88% of all) applied for asylum; after receiving different instructions from the Chief of police, in June only 13 of the 412 migrants, ie 3.15%, lodged an asylum application.

      NGOs accuse the Slovenian government and police of preventing refugees from filing asylum applications and of carrying out collective forced returns without a proper and individual assessment of whether their human rights will be violated in other countries and without the possibility of appeal.

      Returns to Croatia are carried out on the basis of a controversial bilateral agreement between the two countries from 2006 (when Croatia was not yet a member of European Union), which enables informal returns under an abbreviated procedure. According to the court in Genoa, such an abbreviated procedure violates Slovenia’s human rights obligations.

      These findings are further corroborated by an official 2018 report of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which confirms allegations by non-governmental organizations of collective rejection and violence against migrants in the Balkan region, including Croatia and Slovenia.

      Primorski dnevnik cites the court decision featuring portions of NGO reports, saying:

      “Threats, violence, abuse of power and denial of fundamental rights have become common practice at border police stations, and collective deportations to Croatia are repeated daily with the support and awareness of senior police and government officials, despite the high risk of further police violence and theft in Croatia.”

      Slovenian daily newspaper Dnevnik asked Slovenian police for comments on the judgement, and they replied that their procedures were legal and professional, that the guidelines for the work of police officers had already been made public and that UNHCR had not discovered any irregularities when visiting police stations. The Ministry of the Interior replied that they were fully implementing EU legislation in the field of international protection, and that they were not aware of the ruling and could not comment on it.

      Though there was a decrease of irregular entries into Slovenia during the past few months there was an increase of record irregular entries recorded by Italian authorities. This has resulted in minor diplomatic tension between the countries where Slovenia has been dismissed as not being diligent enough in their Schengen gatekeeping duties.
      We suspect that there are two reasons that Italian authorities are recording an increase of border crossings:

      First, as InfoMigrants reported, as part of covid-19 measure the Italian authorities announced temporary legalisation of undocumented residents. We suspect that this might be a reason for a greater number of people reporting themselves and, thus, creating a spike in official records. Connected with this reason might be the Covid-19 measures as traveling became more difficult a greater number of people might be pressed to weather the virus in border municipalities (such as Trieste).

      Migrants (as well as border tensions with Slovenia) are traditionally a convenient distraction for the Italian government(s) in time(s) of crisis. To show its commitment to regulating the frontier the Italian government deployed the armed forces to aid police in intercepting migrants via the last stretch of the Balkan route. As Uroš Škerl reported for the daily newspaper Dnevnik in the last month Italy returned more people than in the previous four months combined (29 compared to 27 from January to April). In a statement for Dnevnik Gianfranco Schiavone of the NGO Consorzio Italiano di Solidarietà — Ufficio Rifugiati Onlus stated:

      “What is new in the last week is that the Italian police started to return people for whom we are convinced that they have the same circumstances as their colleagues that applied for asylum and stayed in Italy.”

      These returns are now conducted with the aid of the armed forces whose deployment the interior ministry justified as “an answer on illegal migrations”. Schiavone is skeptical of the military as they are not trained to conduct border patrols and handle asylum seekers adding: “this is all just political theater”.

      This latest act of EU migration policy melodrama has actors that are less fortunate than others. According to Dnevnik there have been three groups of people (14,17,8) returned to Slovenia and we suspect that at least one of these groups (if not all) has ended up in Velika Kladuša (BIH). A video emerged with a statement of a member of one of these groups containing claims of violent treatment during the Italy-BIH pushback was published recently by a migrant/activist: “This boy who left his fingerprints in Trieste and applied for asylum ، was deported to Slovenia and gradually back to hell”.

      So, on the one hand, Italian courts have found that push backs are cruel and inhumane, yet at the same time the same government has doubled down on its commitment to condemning people to this fate that its own courts find inhumane and cruel.

      Although the condemnation of deportation is a necessary first step, unless this idea is used to hold the security forces to account for their oppression and torture of people, it will remain a hollow ruling. Europeans like to look down on the USA due to their police violence on minorities, state hypocrisy towards its own values and their border walls. Maybe we should stop looking across the ocean and look closer to home.

      Written by: Iza Thaler and Miha Turk from InfoKolpa

      Find daily updates and special reports on our Medium page.

      If you wish to contribute, either by writing a report or a story, or by joining the info gathering team, please let us know.

      We strive to echo correct news from the ground through collaboration and fairness. Every effort has been made to credit organisations and individuals with regard to the supply of information, video, and photo material (in cases where the source wanted to be accredited). Please notify us regarding corrections.

      If there’s anything you want to share or comment, contact us through Facebook, Twitter or write to: areyousyrious@gmail.com

      https://medium.com/are-you-syrious/ays-special-italian-court-stops-deportation-to-slovenia-meanwhile-pushbacks-
      #refoulements_en_chaîne

    • Even from Trieste, Italy.

      “Working every day in the street with people-on-the-move has allowed medical volunteers in Trieste to witness the worsening situation at the Italian border with Slovenia. Here is a sum-up of the radical changes in the last two months, highlighting growing repression towards transit groups and a spike in pushbacks from Italian territory. The events are relayed in three distinct stages: from the start of the pandemic, the development of tighter police controls, and finally the expansion of pushbacks through the dubious “informal readmission” process”

      https://www.borderviolence.eu/news-from-trieste-covid-19-and-pushbacks

      Reçu via la mailing-list de Migreurop, le 15.06.2020

    • The Slovenian Administrative Court issued a judgement confirming that the Slovenian police committed chain pushbacks (https://www.cms.hr/hr/pravna-pomoc-azil-i-statusna-pitanja/slovenski-sud-potvrdio-hrvatska-sudjelovala-u-lancanom-nezakonitom-protjerivanju) in which Croatia also participated, as a result of which a person seeking international protection in Slovenia ended up in Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to the judgement, the young man identified as J.D. must be returned to Slovenia, he must be given the opportunity to seek asylum again and he must be paid compensation in the amount of € 5,000. This judgement demonstrated the importance of the work of Infokolpa, a civic initiative and a member of the Border Violence Monitoring Network, which played a key role in gathering evidence. Namely, in the judgment, the Slovenian court relied on their reports and the reports of other organisations within the BVMN, as well as media reports. It is precisely in such cases that the importance of independent reports and the importance of documenting violent pushbacks of refugees can be seen.

      However, in addition to warning of the illegal actions of the Slovenian police, this judgement also proves the role of the Croatian police in chain pushbacks of refugees to Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is time for the Croatian authorities to conduct effective investigations and make concrete efforts to stop this illegal practice.

      The brutality of pushbacks from Croatia was also experienced by a group of 16 refugees who were tortured and humiliated for five hours by unknown perpetrators in late May before being pushed back to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Precisely because of this inhumane and illegal treatment of people in search of safety, the Centre for Peace Studies filed a criminal complaint (https://www.cms.hr/hr/azil-i-integracijske-politike/cms-podnio-kaznenu-prijavu-koja-je-poveznica-policije-i-naoruzanih-nasilnika-u-c) with the State Attorney’s Office of the Republic of Croatia against unknown perpetrators who tortured the group. Eight armed men in unmarked black uniforms and with balaclavas on their heads, which according to the description given by the victims may belong to a special unit of the Ministry of the Interior, the so-called “Corridor” operation (https://net.hr/danas/hrvatska/zastrasujuca-devijacija-akcije-koridor-policija-sve-dogovara-na-whatsappu-a-pose), treated in an inhumane manner people in search of protection. Armed men wearing black tied the refugees to trees, shot at their heads and feet, beat them with everything they could get their hands on, took all of their belongings under threat of death, and in the end humiliated them by rubbing mayonnaise, ketchup and sugar into the wounds they had previously inflicted. Then, they handed the refugees, some of whom could not walk due to their serious injuries, over to the police, while the police officers then pushed them back to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The victim’s testimonies suggest a cooperation between the perpetrators in black and the police. The Centre for Peace Studies once again stressed the importance of promptly conducting an effective and independent investigation into these crimes and sanctioning the perpetrators.

      Reçu via la mailing-list Inicijativa Dobrodosli, mail du 29.07.2020

      #Croatie #refoulements_en_chaîne #Balkans #route_des_Balkans #justice #corridor_operation

    • Slovénie : la justice reconnaît l’illégalité des expulsions vers la Croatie et la Bosnie-Herzégovine

      C’est un précédent de taille : le tribunal administratif de Ljubljana a donné raison à un jeune Camerounais qui demandait l’asile en Slovénie, mais que la police a illégalement expulsé en Croatie, et qui s’est finalement retrouvé dans les camps de Velika Kladuša et Bihač, en Bosnie-Herzégovine.

      La justice slovène a confirmé dans son verdict (https://www.borderviolence.eu/wp-content/uploads/PRESS-KIT-FOR-INTERNATIONAL-MEDIA.pdf) rendu public le 17 juillet dernier que la police slovène avait commis une expulsion illégale, à laquelle la Croatie a également participé, et à la suite de quoi un Camerounais de 23 ans, J. D., qui voulait demander une protection internationale en Slovénie, s’est retrouvé en Bosnie-Herzégovine.

      J. D., qui fait partie d’une minorité anglophone persécutée au Cameroun, a été détenu deux jours durant par la police slovène. Bien qu’il ait demandé l’asile à trois reprises, sa requête n’a jamais été prise en compte. Il a d’abord été illégalement expulsé vers la Croatie, puis vers la Bosnie-Herzégovine. À la suite de la décision du tribunal administratif de Ljubljana, il a désormais le droit de revenir en Slovénie et d’y demander l’asile. L’État slovène a été condamné à lui verser une indemnité de 5000 euros. Ce jugement n’est toutefois pas définitif, l’État ayant la possibilité de faire appel devant la Cour suprême.

      L’affaire a été suivie par InfoKolp, membre du Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN). Dans son verdict, la justice slovène s’appuie sur un rapport de 50 pages remis en mai 2019 par InfoKolp, ainsi que sur des rapports du BVMN et de divers médias, dont Radio Študent, présente dans les camps de Velika Kladuša et de Bihač, dans le nord-ouest de la Bosnie-Herzégovine. Ce verdict constitue un important précédent qui établit les violations en série des droits de l’Homme, mais aussi l’existence d’une « chaîne » d’expulsions illégales « systématiques et routinières », selon les termes de l’avocat du plaignant, depuis la Slovénie vers Bosnie-Herzégovine avec l’aide de la police croate.

      “Une « chaîne » d’expulsions illégales « systématiques et routinières ».”

      Ce verdict confirme également ce que les ONG et institutions soulignent depuis des années : des expulsions illégales de réfugiés et de migrants ont lieu, auxquelles de nombreux pays de l’Union européenne participent. Il s’agit donc d’un indicateur fort pour les institutions européennes de ce qui se passe sur le territoire de l’UE, ainsi qu’à ses frontières extérieures et intérieures, à savoir des violations des droits de l’Homme et de l’État de droit. L’affaire étaie en outre les témoignages de milliers de réfugiés et de migrants qui ont subi des violences, expulsions illégales et violations du droit d’asile, alors que les autorités croates refusent toujours de mener des enquêtes.

      Depuis le début de l’année 2018, la police slovène a renvoyé en Croatie quelque 20 000 personnes qui ont subi des mauvais traitements de la part de la police croate. Dans le meilleurs des cas, elles ont été débarquées d’une fourgonnette à la frontière avec la Bosnie-Herzégovine, mais le plus souvent, elles ont été insultées, battues et torturées par la police.

      https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Slovenie-la-justice-reconnait-une-chaine-d-expulsions-illegales-v

    • Italy-Slovenia border: ASGI’s open letter to the Italian government and UNHCR

      Background

      On July the 24th 2020, in the Italian Parliament’s lower Chamber, Undersecretary Variati on behalf of the Ministry of the Interior answered urgent questions by MP Riccardo Magi on the situation of the so-called “informal readmissions” of foreign citizens at the border between Italy and Slovenia. The response provided by the government in a note is exceptionally troubling, since it clearly violates principles of domestic and EU law on basic human rights. It should be stressed that the note contains a number of contradictions and provides no legal or case-law grounds for what it asserts.

      Before briefly examining the note’s content, it is worth recalling that “readmission” is a simplified procedure allowing a States to send a foreign citizen back at the border to the country s/he came from, when the foreigner does not meet the criteria for admission into the destination country. The basis for these actions is contained in bilateral States agreements, which must not conflict with European and international provisions on movement of people, the right to international protection and fundamental rights.

      Unregulated readmissions

      First of all, the Ministry has openly confirmed that informal readmissions do take place (without any written decision provided to the interested party), which obviously prevents the person to appeal the measure. The Ministry justified this modus operandi by making generic reference to “consolidated practices” of “accelerated readmission procedures”. As already highlighted in the open letter (still unanswered) that ASGI sent to the Government CCing UNHCR on June 5th, the expression “readmissions without formalities” contained in the bilateral Agreement between Italy and Slovenia for the readmission of persons at the border, signed in Rome on September 3rd 1996, certainly cannot be understood as implying no obligation to issue a written decision, as it is indisputable that the action taken by public security with forced accompaniment in Slovenia has effects on the legal situation of the person. Instead, it should be correctly understood in the sense that the procedures for reporting and coordinating readmission operations between the Italian and Slovenian authorities can take place without procedural burdens.

      Irrelevance of the application for international protection

      The assertion that readmissions by foreign citizens are applied “even if the intention to seek international protection has been expressed” is disconcerting. The right to international protection is a fundamental right and access to the asylum procedure and the identification of the country in charge of examining the application are regulated by EU law, notably by the Dublin III Regulation which states that “Member States shall examine any application for international protection lodged by a third-country national or a stateless person on the territory of any Member State, including at the border and in the transit areas”. The obligation for the Member State to register the application for international protection lodged at the border must be respected in all circumstances, even in cases where the applicant has crossed the border of a Member State irregularly from another Member State. The criteria of competence which establish which country will have to examine the asylum application are precisely indicated in the Regulation which in any case strictly excludes that the principles and procedures contained in the inter-state Readmission Agreements may apply.

      Subsequently, the text takes on ambiguous and contradictory tones, reassuring that “all the irregular migrants found are informed, through an interpreter, of the possibility to request international protection”, specifying that a special information booklet is distributed for this purpose. This assertion not only is contradicted by numerous testimonies collected, in Italy and abroad, but in any case would be a pointless exercise, in light of the imminent fate (i.e. readmission) that awaits also those who express their intention to seek asylum. As a further confirmation of this, the ministerial note states that “if the conditions for the readmission request are met and the same is accepted by the Slovenian authorities, there will be no formalization of the request in the police headquarters”. Declaring one’s intention to seek protection therefore produces no apparent legal effect and, consequently, entails no obligation for the Italian authorities, since if Slovenia accepts the readmission application “by completing and sending a special form in which the elements supporting the application are indicated” the foreign citizen is readmitted to Slovenia like those who have not asked for protection, therefore as an irregular foreigner. The note also does not consider that in this case the foreigner would be readmitted to Slovenia as an asylum seeker, thus opening the way to chain rejections as it has already happened in a number of cases.

      Risk of “chain” refoulements

      In relation to this practice, documented by numerous international reports, the Ministry of Interior merely replies that “Slovenia and Croatia are members of the European Union” and consequently “they are to be considered intrinsically safe countries, in terms of human rights and international conventions on the matter”. ASGI expresses serious concerns about the Slovenian and Croatian asylum systems and, above all, about the possibilities of effective access to the asylum procedure. According to Eurostat data, in the first four months of 2020, Croatia registered 400 applications for international protection, equal to 0.3% of the EU total. In Slovenia there were 490 applications registered against 6840 asylum applications registered in Italy. Furthermore, as already highlighted in the ASGI note of June 5th 2020, the right of States to reject or expel those who are not entitled to enter or remain on national territory, albeit lawful as an expression of the principle of state sovereignty, finds specific limits in that States have not only the obligation to recognize, guarantee and protect the human rights of people under their jurisdiction, but also the duty to respect human rights treaties and not to transform them into ineffective norms. The Italian government cannot pretend to ignore that migrants readmitted from Italy to Slovenia and then from Slovenia to Croatia are subsequently transferred coercively to Serbia or Bosnia-Herzegovina, that these operations take place without any written decisions being adopted and served on the foreigners and that migrants are subjected to brutal violence by both the Croatian police and members of private militias. The practice of chain refoulements was also recently recognized by the Slovenian Administrative Court which on July 16th recognized the unlawfulness of the readmission from Slovenia to Croatia and then from Croatia to Bosnia of an asylum seeker. The Slovenian judge ruled that the police had not informed the interested party of his right to apply for international protection, in clear violation of national and EU law. The readmission also violated the ban on collective expulsion because the applicant was not notified of a removal order, nor was he given legal and linguistic assistance before his readmission to Croatia. As regards chain refoulement, the ruling found “sufficiently reliable reports on the possible risks from the point of view of article 3 of the ECHR” both in Croatia, where the applicant was initially removed, and in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he was subsequently rejected.

      Likely ineffectiveness, against the background above, of a service to assist migrants at border crossings

      Lastly, the note ends with the reassurance that an assistance service for foreigners in the province of Trieste will be soon activated and will be operated by CIR (Consiglio Italiano per i Rifugiati). In light of the above considerations (i.e. the substantial uselessness of the application for international protection in order to prevent the readmission mechanism), it is highly questionable whether such a service would have any effectiveness and foreign citizens could access it.

      Conclusion

      In conclusion, the note with which the Ministry of the Interior made known its position on the so-called informal readmissions of foreign citizens, including asylum seekers, on the Italian-Slovenian border, represents an ideological endorsement of unlawful procedures implemented in total contempt for domestic and EU law. Despite the controversial and sometimes obscure asylum policy in Italy, so far there hasn’t ever been such a flagrant infringement of the legality, one that may make Italian and European institutions face possible responsibilities for violations of fundamental rights taking place on the border with Slovenia.

      Due to this very serious situation

      ASGI asks the Italian government

      to immediately end the practices of unlawful readmissions at the Italian-Slovenian border;
      to give precise indications to the peripheral government offices to respect the right of asylum and in particular the effective right to access the territory and request international protection adequately;
      to report urgently before the Parliament on the situation at the eastern border by providing all the necessary data and specifically reporting on the operating procedures with which the readmissions have so far been implemented.

      ASGI asks UNHCR

      to take an open public position on the note of the Italian Government in relation to the readmissions of applicants for international protection. For understandable reasons related to its mandate, UNHCR often operates through actions of moral suasion that do not take a public dimension. However, situations, such as that covered by this analysis, require that public opinion, institutions and associations have the full right to know UNHCR’s position on such serious events taking place in the territory of the European Union;
      to implement effective direct monitoring of the situation on the eastern border which has so far been completely lacking, in the awareness that the illegal situation described has already led to the rejection of hundreds of asylum seekers and that stopping this situation must become a top priority on the part of the United Nations agency responsible for defending the very existence of the right to asylum.

      For further information, please refer to the ASGI note of June 5th 2020 and to the recent dossier “La rotta balcanica” (“The Balkan Route”) by the Network “Rivolti ai Balcani”.

      https://en.asgi.it/informal-readmissions-balkan-route-asgi-letter-government-unhcr

    • Cries for help from the Balkan Route. Access to asylum remains a problem in Slovenia.

      “They don’t care about us. We have reached the refugee shelter several times, and they send us back to Croatia.”

      This is part of a message I received on Whatsapp on July 29 from 19-year-old Mohammed from Morocco who was writing from a center in south west Slovenia where he was being held in detention.

      Mohammed explained that he had previously managed to enter Slovenia several times, crossing over the mountains, but was pushed back initially to Croatia, and then again to Bosnia and Herzegovina or Serbia. This illegal deportation practice has been documented in recent years by a number of human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and the Council of Europe, as well as some European parliamentarians.

      NGOs and human rights collectives including Amnesty International and Border Violence Monitoring Network have also said that since July 2018, people on the move have been denied their legal right to apply for asylum by Slovenian police, who have been part of an illegal chain of push backs from the EU, along Italy and Croatia to Bosnia or Serbia.

      Mohammed further told me that since July 19 he had been held alongside a number of other potential asylum seekers in the Aliens Center in #Postojna, a town in Slovenia midway between Ljubljana and the Italian border.

      Usually, people held in this center are in the process of being deported after their asylum claims have been denied, or their stay in the country has been deemed illegal, as defined by the Aliens Act. However, until recently, asylum seekers and those wanting to seek asylum like Mohammed were not being placed there unless there were specific circumstances where they were deemed a flight risk or a danger to public order.

      Through text messages, photos and videos, some of those inside the center managed to reach out to journalists like myself, as well as to some NGOs, and civil society groups.

      A group of activists subsequently organized protests on August 25 in an attempt to raise awareness about what is going on, supporting ongoing protests being held within the center by those being held in detention. They warned the public about this practice by the Slovenian police and drew parallels with the so-called Hungarian model of locking people up during their asylum process.

      Threats and deportations

      The center in Postojna where people are being detained consists of a large hangar-like building that has only lately been equipped with 14 containers. Each has six beds. Additionally, there are two sanitary containers serving as bathrooms and toilets.

      The official capacity of the complex is 180 beds, but the number of those locked-up varies daily. At the beginning of August, through email correspondence, police said that 145 people were held in the center, including 42 in the process of deportation and 65 who had requested asylum but who had not yet received an official response..

      Out of the total number, 38 individuals were registered asylum seekers.

      A few days later, police reported that 142 individuals were being held in the center, including 111 asylum seekers.

      People held in Postojna claim that when they were brought in, police told them they would be quarantined due to the pandemic.

      The General Police Directorate denied that the center in Postojna is being used as a form of quarantine, claiming that only basic medical check-ups are carried out. But in answer to questions, they also state that “the majority stays there for more than 14 days,” the quarantine period recommended by the World Health Organization for those who have been in close contact with somebody with COVID-19.

      https://vimeo.com/453221076

      Messages from those in the center claimed that even the right to request asylum was being denied, despite promises by police upon entering the center that everyone would get a chance to apply.

      Some, like Mohammed, say they have already gone through the experience of being deprived of the right to apply for asylum, and then being deported from the EU, back to the Balkans. They say they reached out to appeal for help after being threatened with deportation to Croatia 10 days after being taken to the center.

      In one of these messages sent to a local NGO, X. from Morocco wrote that the living conditions in the center are “terrible.”

      “They put us in a closed place, some people have been here 28 days and others 25 days without knowing what will happen with us,” he wrote.

      “They take out some and leave some in, even though we have the same case and were arrested in the same circumstances. There is no logic and no law. Some leave without proof of identity, while others are sentenced to three months.

      “There’s patients here and the medical care is not good, some friends are scared about what will happen with us and others are thinking of killing themselves here.”

      https://vimeo.com/453221292

      Violation of asylum laws

      The Ombudsperson’s Office in Slovenia has warned on several occasions about the problematic role of border police in asylum procedures and about the role of Postojna’s Aliens Center, which is officially considered a detention facility.

      Furthermore, in its reports the Office acknowledges that families and children were amongst those previously detained there, a controversial practice it calls to be abolished.

      The men who are currently locked up in Postojna complain of further irregularities, including accusing the translators working for the police as being corrupt and unprofessional. These echo similar claims cited by organizations including Amnesty International Slovenia, while the Ombudsperson’s office has also mentioned it in one of its reports and called on the government to react.

      Saša Zagorc, a professor of constitutional law at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana and a member of the Odysseus Network with other experts on asylum, says that to date little has been done to address the concerns.

      “Systemic problems and irregularities when it comes to deprivation of personal liberty in Slovenia have been known and well analyzed for at least five years,” he says.

      Depriving those wanting to seek asylum of liberty is considered a measure of last resort under international law and is legal only after an individual’s specific circumstances have been taken into account and possible milder measures considered. But Professor Zagorc emphasizes a systemic lack of alternative measures in Slovenia.

      Self-organized activist collective Work-group for Asylum — part of the Ambasada Rog collective that has been working with refugees and migrants in Slovenia for years — issued a statement saying that deprivation of liberty of people who seek asylum is now used in Slovenia as a rule, and not as an exception, as stipulated in law.

      The Interior Ministry denies these allegations.

      Not standard police procedure

      The videos and photos that appeared in the public and the media at the end of July, shortly after protests within the camp, created public pressure. Three days after I received the first message from Mohammed, the men in Postojna reported they had been visited by a group of officials from the Interior Ministry with two different interpreters.

      However, three weeks later, on August 21, they still remained locked up and deprived of their liberty, with no legal counsel.

      In answer to my questions about the broader framing of the current situation in Postojna, the Ombudsperson’s Office said that part of the problem is a lack of systemic access to free legal counsel for some people deprived of their liberty in the Aliens Center.

      The official response from the Interior Ministry is that the men’s detention in Postojna might “not be a standard police procedure,” but that all police actions are lawful.

      Standard police procedure is to take asylum seekers to Ljubljana’s Asylum Center, where they have freedom of movement after a few days of quarantine and an initial interview. The Interior Ministry said that their officials can, and do, conduct first interviews with people who wish to apply for asylum in Ljubljana’s Asylum Center, as well as at other police stations.

      They explained that the asylum requests can be “deemed obviously unfounded if an individual comes from a so-called safe third country.” Such procedures aim to speed up deportations of individuals whose asylum requests have been denied.

      Human rights organizations, including the Council of Europe, however, have warned that even in such expedient procedures individual circumstances need to be considered and these may make asylum claims valid even when an applicant is from a so-called safe third country.

      The police practices are reflected in official statistics. According to the Interior Ministry, in the first half of 2020, 64 out of 120 asylum requests were rejected as “obviously unfounded.” In the same period last year, 30 out of 51 asylum requests were denied as “obviously unfounded.”

      Police instructions, exposed last month by Slovenian media, reveal that as a rule, asylum seekers are now to be taken to Postojna in an apparent attempt to speed up deportations, not to Ljubljana’s Asylum Center.

      In a phone conversation with a representative of the Legal-Informational Centre for NGOS, I find out that since late May and June they have been overwhelmed with filing legal motions to appeal the detention of asylum seekers in Postojna.

      Interior Ministry data shows that this year, police have deprived 75 potential asylum seekers of their liberty, 69 of which were in June alone. The administrative court this year annulled 35 of these measures.

      Meanwhile, based on a request made by right wing politicians in Italy, additional Italian army troops are to be deployed to the border with Slovenia. Some troops were already deployed in May, while the idea of having the army is supported by far right groups on both sides of the border.

      In Slovenia, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs, a member of the right wing SDS party, openly welcomed the idea.

      For now, the struggle of people in Postojna and Slovenian civic society continues. In one of his messages sent to the activists, X. wrote:

      “We are not criminals — we are humans. The difference between us and other people is just the paper — we are people without papers and that does not mean we are not good people.”

      https://kosovotwopointzero.com/en/cries-for-help-from-the-balkan-route

  • Une personne grièvement blessée par la police à la #frontière entre la #Croatie et la #Slovénie, 27-28 novembre 2019

    –-------------

    Croatie : un policier ouvre encore le feu contre des réfugiés

    28 novembre - 22h : Mercredi en fin d’après-midi, un policier a ouvert le feu contre un groupe de réfugiés, près du village de #Mrkopalj, dans le comté de #Primorje-Gorski_Kotar, à 50 km à l’est de Rijeka, blessant l’un d’entre eux. La police affirme que l’homme aurait opposé une vive résistance à son arrestation et tenté de s’enfuir. Il y a onze jour, la police avait déjà ouvert le feu contre un autre groupe de réfugiés dans la même région, située sur la route reliant la région de Bihać, en Bosnie-Herzégovine, à la Croatie.

    https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/courrierdesbalkans-fr-fil-info-refugies-2019-novembre

    #frontière_sud-alpine #montagne #mourir_aux_frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #décès #morts #frontières #Croatie #Route_des_Balkans #Slovénie

    Cet accident survient seulement quelques 10 jours après l’autre personne blessée par #arme_à_feu sur la même frontière, 16-17.11.2019 :
    Migrante in fin di vita all’ospedale di Fiume, sarebbe stato raggiunto da colpi di pistola esplosi dalla polizia
    https://seenthis.net/messages/811666

    #armes #armes_à_feu

    –-------

    v. la liste des push-back à la frontière avec #armes_à_feu (août 2017-octobre 2019)
    https://seenthis.net/messages/814569

    –------

    Ajouté à cette liste des morts (même si la personne dont on parle ici n’est pas décédée) :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/811660

    Et, indirectement, à la métaliste des migrant·es morts à la #frontière_sud-alpine :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/758646

    • We begin another week’s report with news of Croatian police shooting a man. Just eleven days after the case of an officer’s “accidental firing” and shooting of a man who is still recovering from serious injuries at the hospital in Rijeka, on Thursday another Croatian police officer shot a man in the area of #Mrkopalj (https://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/policajac-upucao-migranta-kod-fuzina-iz-policije-kazu-da-je-kriv-migrant/2136049.aspx). The police version about the event is again unclear and blames the victim – it says that the person was “actively resisting and thereby caused the police officer’s firearm to fire". We wonder which version of the story the Croatian police will embrace this time - in the case of another “accidental firing”, the question is whether police officers are actually well trained in handling firearms, and in the case of a deliberate shooting, we expect a transparent and independent investigation into all of the circumstances of the event and the verification whether the police officer acted within his authority and in proportion to the use of necessary defence.

      Reçu via Inicijativa dobrodosli, mail du 04.11.2019.

      –---
      Policajac upucao migranta kod Fužina. Iz policije kažu da je kriv - migrant

      POLICAJAC je jučer na području Mrkoplja upucao migranta. Iz policije su javili da je došlo do opaljenja jer je migrant pružao aktivan otpor. Migrant je lakše ranjen.

      Propucavanje se dogodilo jučer, a policija je o tome izvijestila danas navodeći da je migrant sam kriv za opaljenje pištolja.

      U riječkom KBC-u doznaje se da je ozlijeđeni muškarac zadobio prostrjelnu ranu desnog ramena te je sinoć operiran. Stanje mu je stabilno i izvan je životne opasnosti.

      Utvrđuju okolnosti ranjavanja migranta, a već su ih utvrdili?

      Njihovo priopćenje prenosimo u cijelosti.

      “Jučer, 27. studenog 2019. godine, u kasnim popodnevnim satima, na širem području Mrkoplja, policijski službenici PU primorsko-goranske, koji sukladno zaključcima sastanka predstavnika policije i lokalnih vlasti na navedenom području provode pojačane aktivnosti na suzbijanju nezakonitih migracija te prevenciji imovinskih delikata, zatekli su grupu nepoznatih osoba.

      Tijekom policijskog postupanja, jedna od zatečenih osoba, u namjeri da spriječi policijskog službenika u obavljanju službene radnje, pružala je aktivan otpor i na taj način svojim djelovanjem prouzrokovala opaljenje iz vatrenog oružja policijskog službenika, kojom prilikom je došlo do posljedičnog zadobivanja ozljeda.

      Osobi je odmah pružena hitna medicinska pomoć te je zbrinuta. Prema prvim neslužbenim informacijama radi se o lakšoj ozljedi”, stoji u priopćenju.

      Na kraju dodaju kako se utvrđuju sve okolnosti pod kojima se događaj odvio, a prema njihovom priopćenju se čini da su već utvrdili način na koji je migrant upucan.

      Zadnji ovakav slučaj dogodio se prije 11 dana na području Tuhobića, gdje je policajac iz puške propucao migranta i nanio mu ozljede opasne po život. Policija je i tada izvijestila da se radilo o slučajnom opaljenju oružja.

      https://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/policajac-upucao-migranta-kod-fuzina-iz-policije-kazu-da-je-kriv-migrant/2136049.aspx

    • This week started with a tragic event happened in Croatia: a man has been shot by a Croatian police officer (https://www.cms.hr/hr/azil-i-integracijske-politike/povodom-ranjavanja-osobe-u-gorskom-kotaru-pucanj-u-ljudska-prava) - at the time writing, he is still in hospital and went through more than 4 surgeries, and he’s fighting for his life. One of the multiple versions elaborated by the Ministry of the interior is that “there has been no shooting, rather it was an accidental firing”. The version of the story changed several times, and up until now, the minister decided to stay silent “while the investigations are ongoing”. We would like to underline how we don’t have trust in a system that makes Thermo camera videos disappear, or in a system that doesn’t allow other institutions like the ombudswoman to access to information regarding border management. While the European Commission gives the green light for Croatia accession to Schengen, the police officers shoot to men in search of safety: is this the idea that the European Commission has of a good way of managing the external borders of EU? Border Violence Monitoring Network reminds us how this event is not an exception nor an accident: in their press briefing (https://www.borderviolence.eu/wp-content/uploads/Press-Briefing-19th-November-2019-1.pdf), the network underlines how the 19% of all recorded pushback cases from Croatia involved gun use, affecting 1279 people. In 2019, the pushbacks of 770 people from Croatia involved gun use. Of the 54 group cases: 31 cases gunshots were fired by police officers; in 33 cases guns were used to threaten respondents. In October 2019 alone, 17% of recorded pushback cases from Croatia involved the threatening with, or shooting of firearms by police. These firearms use targeted a total of 285 people. Across the Balkan Region, BVMN has recorded 107 incidents of gun used by police, including 63 cases where gunshots were fired by police officers; 63 cases where guns were used to threaten respondents. Here you can read the full report of the month of October: https://www.borderviolence.eu/balkan-region-report-october-2019

      Reçu via Inicijativa Dobrodosli, mail du 27.11.2019.

  • The Swiss Federal Administrative suspended the return of asylum seeker to Croatia according to Dublin due to police violence taking place at the Croatian-Bosnian border. The asylum- seeker experienced violent pushbacks from the Croatian border 18 times, which left him with physical and psychological consequences. This ruling confirmed all the testimonies of refugees and numerous reports from both international and local organizations, institutions and the media that warned about this continuing practice of the Croatian police.

    Reçu via la newsletter de Inicijativa Dobrodosli, le 26.08.2019

    #suspension #Dublin #asile #renvois_Dublin #Suisse #migrations #réfugiés #expulsion #Croatie #violences_policières #frontières #violent_border #violence #Bosnie #push-back #push-backs #refoulement #police

    –------

    Source:
    Švicarski sud suspendirao vraćanje izbjeglice zbog prijetnje ponavljanja pushback-a

    Švicarski Federalni upravni sud suspendirao vraćanje po Dublinu zbog policijskog nasilja nad izbjeglicama.

    Švicarski Federalni upravni sud suspendirao je vraćanje tražitelja azila prema Dublinu u Hrvatsku zbog policijskog nasilja koje se događa na hrvatsko-bosanskoj granici. Tražitelj je 18 puta iskusio nasilne pushbackove s hrvatske granice što je na njemu ostavilo fizičke i psihičke posljedice. Ovom presudom potvrđena su sva svjedočanstva izbjeglica i mnogobrojni izvještaji kako međunarodnih tako lokalnih organizacija, institucija i medija koje već godinama upozoravaju na kontinuiranu praksu hrvatske policije.

    https://www.cms.hr/hr/azil-i-integracijske-politike/svicarski-sud-suspendirao-vracanje-izbjeglice-zbog-prijetnje-ponavljanja-pushbac

    ping @i_s_ @isskein

  • Bosnian police block 100 migrants from reaching Croatia

    Bosnian border police on Monday stopped about 100 migrants from reaching the border with European Union member Croatia amid a rise in the influx of people heading through the Balkans toward Western Europe.

    Police blocked the migrants near the Maljevac border crossing in northwestern Bosnia, which was briefly closed down. The group has moved toward Croatia from the nearby town of #Velika_Kladusa, where hundreds have been staying in makeshift camps while looking for ways to move on.

    Migrants have recently turned to Bosnia in order to avoid more heavily guarded routes through the Balkans. Authorities in the war-ravaged country have struggled with the influx of thousands of people from the Mideast, Africa and Asia.

    Peter Van der Auweraert, from the International Organization for Migration, tweeted the attempted group crossing on Monday was a “very worrying development that risks” creating a backlash.

    Van der Auweraert told The Associated Press that the migrant influx has already put pressure on Bosnia and any incidents could further strain the situation, making Bosnians view migrants as “troublemakers” rather than people in need of help, he said.

    Migrants arrive in Bosnia from Serbia or Montenegro after traveling from Greece to Albania, Bulgaria or Macedonia.

    Also Monday, a migrant was stabbed in a fight with another migrant in an asylum center in southern Bosnia, police said.

    The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said Monday that more than 5,600 migrants have reached Bosnia and Herzegovina so far this year, compared with only 754 in all of 2017.

    Hundreds of thousands of people passed through the Balkans toward Europe at the peak of the mass migration in 2015. The flow eased for a while but has recently picked up a bit with the new route through Bosnia.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/article213373449.html
    #Bosnie #fermeture_des_frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Croatie #frontières #route_des_Balkans #Bosnie-Herzégovine

    • Migrants en Croatie : « on ne nous avait encore jamais tiré dessus »

      Le 30 mai, la police croate ouvrait le feu sur une camionnette qui venait de forcer un barrage près de la frontière avec la Bosnie-Herzégovine. À l’intérieur, 29 migrants. Bilan : deux enfants et sept adultes blessés. Reportage sur le lieu du drame, nouvelle étape de la route de l’exil, où des réfugiés désœuvrés errent dans des villages désertés par l’exode.

      https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Migrants-en-Croatie-nulle-part-ailleurs-on-ne-nous-avait-tire-des
      #police #violences_policières

    • Refugees stranded in Bosnia allege Croatian police brutality

      Croatian officers accused of physical and verbal abuse, along with harassment including theft, but deny all allegations.

      Brutally beaten, mobile phones destroyed, strip-searched and money stolen.

      These are some of the experiences refugees and migrants stranded in western Bosnia report as they describe encounters with Croatian police.

      The abuse, they say, takes place during attempts to pass through Croatia, an EU member, with most headed for Germany.

      Bosnia has emerged as a new route to Western Europe, since the EU tightened its borders. This year, more than 13,000 refugees and migrants have so far arrived in the country, compared with only 755 in 2017.

      In Velika Kladusa, Bosnia’s most western town beside the Croatian border, hundreds have been living in makeshift tents on a field next to a dog kennel for the past four months.

      When night falls, “the game” begins, a term used by refugees and migrants for the challenging journey to the EU through Croatia and Slovenia that involves treks through forests and crossing rivers.

      However, many are caught in Slovenia or Croatia and are forced to return to Bosnia by Croatian police, who heavily patrol its EU borders.

      Then, they have to start the mission all over again.

      Some told Al Jazeera that they have attempted to cross as many as 20 times.

      The use of violence is clearly not acceptable. It is possible to control borders in a strict matter without violence.

      Peter Van der Auweraert, Western Balkans coordinator for the International Organization for Migration

      All 17 refugees and migrants interviewed by Al Jazeera said that they have been beaten by Croatian police - some with police batons, others punched or kicked.

      According to their testimonies, Croatian police have stolen valuables and money, cut passports, and destroyed mobile phones, hindering their communication and navigation towards the EU.

      “Why are they treating us like this?” many asked as they narrated their ordeals.

      “They have no mercy,” said 26-year-old Mohammad from Raqqa, Syria, who said he was beaten all over his body with batons on the two occasions he crossed into the EU. Police also took his money and phone, he said.

      “They treat babies and women the same. An officer pressed his boot against a woman’s head [as she was lying on the ground],” Mohammad said. “Dogs are treated better than us … why are they beating us like this? We don’t want to stay in Croatia; we want to go to Europe.”

      Mohammad Abdullah, a 22-year-old Algerian, told Al Jazeera that officers laughed at a group of migrants as they took turns beating them.

      "One of them would tell the other, ’You don’t know how to hit’ and would switch his place and continue beating us. Then, another officer would say, ’No, you don’t know how to hit’ and would take his place.

      “While [one of them] was beating me, he kissed me and started laughing. They would keep taking turns beating us like this, laughing,” Abdullah said.

      Croatia’s Interior Ministry told Al Jazeera that it “strongly dismisses” allegations of police brutality.

      In an emailed statement, it said those attempting to cross borders know they are acting outside of the law, and claimed that “no complaint so far has proved to be founded.”

      At a meeting in late August with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised Croatia for its control over its borders.

      “You are doing a great job on the borders, and I wish to commend you for that,” Merkel said.

      But according to a new report, the UNHCR received information about 1,500 refugees being denied access to asylum procedures, including over 100 children. More than 700 people reported violence and theft by Croatian police.

      Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify all of the claims against police, because many of the refugees and migrants said their phones - which held evidence - were confiscated or smashed. However, the 17 people interviewed separately reported similar patterns of abuse.

      Shams and Hassan, parents of three, have been trying to reach Germany to apply for asylum, but Croatian authorities have turned them back seven times over the past few months.

      Four years ago, they left their home in Deir Az Zor, Syria, after it was bombed.

      Shams, who worked as a lawyer in Syria, said Croatian policemen strip-searched her and her 13-year-old daughter Rahma on one occasion after they were arrested.

      The male officers handled the women’s bodies, while repeating: “Where’s the money?”

      They pulled off Shams’ headscarf, threw it on the ground and forced her to undress, and took Rahma into a separate room.

      “My daughter was very afraid,” Shams said. "They told her to take off all her clothes. She was shy, she told them, ’No.’

      "They beat her up and stripped her clothes by force, even her underwear.

      “She kept telling them ’No! No! There isn’t [any money]!’ She was embarrassed and was asking them to close the window and door so no one would see her. [The officer] then started yelling at her and pulled at her hair. They beat her up.”

      Rahma screamed for her mother but Shams said she couldn’t do anything.

      “They took 1,500 euros ($1,745) from me and they took my husband’s golden ring. They also broke five of our mobiles and took all the SIM cards … They detained us for two days in prison and didn’t give us any food in the beginning,” Shams said, adding they cut her Syrian passport into pieces.

      “They put my husband in solitary confinement. I didn’t see him for two days; I didn’t know where he was.”

      A senior policeman told Shams that she and her children could apply for asylum, but Hassan would have to return to Bosnia.

      When she refused, she said the police drove the family for three hours to a forest at night and told them to walk back to Bosnia.

      They did not have a torch or mobile phone.

      She said they walked through the forest for two days until they reached a small town in western Bosnia.

      “No nation has the right to treat people this way,” Shams said.

      In another instance, they said they were arrested in a forest with a group of refugees and migrants. All 15 of them were forced into a van for two hours, where it was difficult to breathe.

      “It was closed like a box, but [the officer] refused to turn on the air conditioning so we could breathe. My younger son Mohammad - he’s eight years old - he has asthma and allergies, he was suffocating. When we knocked on the window to ask if he could turn on the air conditioning, [the officer] beat my husband with the baton,” Shams said.

      No Name Kitchen, a volunteer organisation that provides assistance to refugees and migrants on the Balkan route, has been documenting serious injuries on Instagram.

      In one post, the group alleges that Croatian police twice crushed a refugee’s orthopaedic leg.

      Peter Van der Auweraert, the Western Balkans coordinator for the International Organization for Migration, says he has heard stories of police brutality, but called for an independent investigation to judge how alleged victims sustained injuries.

      “Given the fact that there are so many of these stories, I think it’s in everyone’s interest to have an independent inquiry to see what is going on, on the other side of the border,” Van der Auweraert said.

      “The use of violence is clearly not acceptable. It’s not acceptable under European human rights law, it’s not acceptable under international human rights law and it is to my mind also, not necessary. It is possible to control borders in a strict matter without violence.”

      Shams’ family journey from Syria was traumatic from the get-go, and they have spent and lost several thousand euros.

      While travelling in dinghies from Turkey to Greece, they saw dead bodies along the way.

      “We call upon Merkel to help us and open the borders for us. At least for those of us stuck at the borders,” she said. “Why is the EU paying Croatia to prevent our entry into the EU, yet once we reach Germany, after spending a fortune with lives lost on the way, we’ll be granted asylum?”

      “We have nothing,” said her husband Hassan. “Our houses have been destroyed. We didn’t have any problems until the war started. We had peace in our homes. Is there a single country that accepts refugees?”

      “There are countries but there’s no way to reach them,” Shams replied. “This is our misery.”


      https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/refugees-stranded-bosnia-report-campaign-police-brutality-180915100740024

    • Le Conseil de l’Europe somme la Croatie d’enquêter sur les violences policières

      Le Commissariat aux droits de l’Homme du Conseil de l’Europe a appelé la Croatie à ouvrir rapidement des enquêtes sur les allégations de violences policières et de vol à l’encontre de « demandeurs d’asile et autres migrants », ainsi que sur les cas d’expulsions collectives.

      Dans un courrier publié vendredi 5 octobre et adressé au Premier ministre croate Andrej Plenkovic, la commissaire aux droits de l’Homme du Conseil de l’Europe, Dunja Mijatovic, a déclaré être « préoccupée » par les informations « cohérentes et corroborées » fournies par plusieurs organisations attestant « d’un grand nombre d’expulsions collectives de la Croatie vers la Serbie et vers la Bosnie-Herzégovine de migrants en situation irrégulière, dont de potentiels demandeurs d’asile ».

      Elle s’inquiète particulièrement du « recours systématique à la violence des forces de l’ordre croates à l’encontre de ces personnes », y compris les « femmes enceintes et les enfants ». La responsable s’appuie sur les chiffres du Haut-Commissariat de l’ONU aux réfugiés (UNHCR), selon lesquels sur 2 500 migrants expulsés par la Croatie, 700 ont accusé la police de violences et de vols.

      « Consciente des défis auxquels la Croatie est confrontée dans le domaine des migrations », Dunja Mijatovic souligne cependant que les « efforts pour gérer les migrations » doivent respecter les principes du droit international. « Il s’agit notamment de l’interdiction absolue de la torture et des peines ou traitements inhumains prévue à l’article 3 de la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme et l’interdiction des expulsions collectives », qui s’appliquent « aux demandeurs d’asile comme aux migrants en situation irrégulière », écrit-elle.

      Une « violence systématique » selon les associations

      Pour la commissaire, Zagreb doit « entamer et mener rapidement à leur terme des enquêtes rapides, efficaces et indépendantes sur les cas connus d’expulsions collectives et sur les allégations de violence contre les migrants ». Elle somme également le gouvernement croate de « prendre toutes les mesures nécessaires pour mettre fin à ces pratiques et éviter qu’elles ne se reproduisent ».

      « Aucun cas de mauvais de traitement policier à l’encontre de migrants (...) ni aucun vol n’ont été établis », s’est défendu le ministre croate de l’Intérieur Davor Bozinovic dans une lettre de réponse au Conseil de l’Europe.

      Pourtant, dans un rapport intitulé « Games of violence », l’organisation Médecins sans frontières MSF alertait déjà en octobre 2017 sur les violences perpétrées par les polices croates, hongroises et bulgares envers les enfants et les jeunes migrants.

      Sur sa page Facebook, l’association No Name Kitchen a également rappelé qu’elle documentait les cas de violences aux frontières croates depuis 2017 sur le site Border violence.
      En août dernier, cette association qui aide les réfugiés à Sid en Serbie et dans le nord-ouest de la Bosnie expliquait à InfoMigrants que la violence était « systématique » pour les migrants expulsés de Croatie. « Il y a un ou deux nouveaux cas chaque jour. Nous n’avons pas la capacité de tous les documenter », déclarait Marc Pratllus de No Name Kitchen.


      http://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/12518/le-conseil-de-l-europe-somme-la-croatie-d-enqueter-sur-les-violences-p

    • Bosnie-Herzégovine : des réfugiés tentent de passer en force en Croatie

      Alors que les températures ont brutalement chuté ces derniers jours, des réfugiés bloqués en Bosnie-Herzégovine ont tenté de franchir la frontière croate. Des rixes ont éclaté, des policiers croates ont été blessés, des réfugiés aussi.

      Environ 150 à 200 réfugiés ont essayé, mercredi après-midi, de traverser en force le pont reliant la Bosnie-Herzégovine au poste-frontière croate de Mlajevac. Des échauffourées ont éclaté entre la police et les réfugiés, parmi lesquels des femmes et des enfants. Au moins deux policiers croates ont été blessés par des jets de pierres, selon le ministère croate de l’Intérieur. Les réfugiés ont depuis organisé un sit-in devant la frontière, dont ils demandent l’ouverture.

      « Les réfugiés se sont déplacés jusqu’à la frontière croate où la police leur a refusé l’entrée, illégale et violente, sur le territoire », a rapporté le ministère croate de l’Intérieur. « Les réfugiés ont ensuite jeté des pierres sur les agents de la police croate, dont deux ont été légèrement blessé et ont demandé une aide médicale. »

      Après avoir passé la nuit près de la frontière de Velika Kalduša – Maljevac, les réfugiés s’attendaient à pouvoir entrer en Croatie depuis la Bosnie-Herzégovine et ont franchi un premier cordon de la police bosnienne aux frontières. « La police croate n’a pas réagi après que les réfugiés eurent passé le premier cordon de police en direction de la Croatie, car il y avait un second cordon de la police bosnienne », a déclaré la cheffe du département des relations publiques du ministère croate de l’Intérieur, Marina Mandić, soulignant que la police croate, en poste à la frontière, n’est intervenue à aucun moment et n’a donc pas pénétré sur le territoire de la Bosnie-Herzégovine, comme l’ont rapporté certains médias.

      Selon l’ONG No Name Kitchen, la police bosnienne aurait fait usage de gaz lacrymogènes. Au moins trois réfugiés ont été blessés et pris en charge par Médecins sans frontières.

      Mardi, plus de 400 réfugiés sont arrivés à proximité de la frontière où la police a déployé une bande jaune de protection pour les empêcher de passer en Croatie. Parmi les réfugiés qui dorment dehors ou dans des tentes improvisées, on compte beaucoup de femmes et d’enfants. Ils ont ramassé du bois et allumé des feux, alors que la température atteint à peine 10°C.

      Le commandant de la police du canton d’Una-Sana, en Bosnie-Herzégovine, Mujo Koričić, a confirmé mercredi que des mesures d’urgence étaient entrées en vigueur afin d’empêcher l’escalade de la crise migratoire dans la région, notamment l’afflux de nouveaux réfugiés.

      Mise à jour, jeudi 25 octobre, 17h – Environ 120 réfugiés stationnent toujours près du poste-frontière de Velika Kalduša–Maljevac après avoir passé une deuxième nuit sur place, dehors ou dans des tentes improvisées. La police aux frontières de Bosnie-Herzégovine assure que la situation est sous contrôle et pacifiée. La circulation est toujours suspendue. Des enfants portent des banderoles avec des inscriptions demandant l’ouverture de la frontière.

      En réaction, le secrétaire général aux Affaires étrangères de l’UE, l’autrichien Johannes Peterlik, a déclaré jeudi 25 octobre en conférence de presse : « Les migrations illégales ne sont pas la voie à suivre. Il y a des voies légales et cela doit être clair ».

      Le nombre de migrants dans le canton d’Una-Sana est actuellement estimé à 10500.


      https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Bosnie-Herzegovine-des-refugies-tentent-un-passage-en-force-en-Cr
      #violence

      v. aussi :

      Sulla porta d’Europa. Scontri e feriti oggi alla frontiera fra Bosnia e Croazia. Dove un gruppo di 200 migranti ha cercato di passare il confine. Foto Reuters/Marko Djurica

      https://twitter.com/NiccoloZancan/status/1055070667710828545

    • Bleak Bosnian winter for migrants camped out on new route to Europe

      Shouting “Open borders!”, several dozen migrants and asylum seekers broke through a police cordon last week at the Maljevac border checkpoint in northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina and tried to cross into Croatia.

      After being forced back by Croatian police with teargas, they set up camp just inside Bosnian territory. They are in the vanguard of a new wave of migrants determined to reach wealthier European countries, often Germany. Stalled, they have become a political football and face winter with little assistance and inadequate shelter.

      The old Balkan route shut down in 2016 as a raft of European countries closed their borders, with Hungary erecting a razor-wire fence. But a new route emerged this year through Bosnia (via Albania and Montenegro or via Macedonia and Serbia) and on to Croatia, a member of the EU. The flow of travellers has been fed by fresh streams of people from the Middle East and Central and South Asia entering Greece from Turkey, notably across the Evros River.

      By the end of September, more than 16,000 asylum seekers and migrants had entered Bosnia this year, compared to just 359 over the same period last year, according to official figures. The real number is probably far higher as more are smuggled in and uncounted. Over a third of this year’s official arrivals are Pakistani, followed by Iranians (16 percent), Syrians (14 percent), and Iraqis (nine percent).

      This spike is challenging Bosnia’s ability to provide food, shelter, and other aid – especially to the nearly 10,000 people that local institutions and aid organisations warn may be stranded at the Croatian border as winter begins. Two decades after the Balkan wars of the 1990s, the situation is also heightening tensions among the country’s Muslim, Serb, and Croat communities and its often fraught tripartite political leadership.

      How to respond to the unexpected number of migrants was a key issue in the presidential election earlier this month. Nationalist Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, who won the Serb seat in the presidency, charged that it was a conspiracy to boost the country’s Muslim population. The outgoing Croat member of the presidency, Dragan Čović, repeatedly called for Bosnia’s borders to be closed to stem the migrant flow.

      Maja Gasal Vrazalica, a left-wing member of parliament and a refugee herself during the Bosnian wars, accuses nationalist parties of “misusing the topic of refugees because they want to stoke up all this fear through our nation.”
      “I’m very scared”

      Most migrants and asylum seekers are concentrated around two northwestern towns, Bihać and nearby Velika Kladuša. Faris Šabić, youth president of the Bihać Red Cross, organises assistance for the some 4,000 migrants camped in Bihać and others who use the town as a way station.

      Since the spring and throughout the summer, as arrivals spiked, several local volunteers joined his staff to provide food, hygiene items, and first aid. But now, as winter draws in, they fear the scale of the crisis is becoming untenable.

      “I have to be honest, I’m very scared,” Šabić told IRIN, examining a notebook filled with the names of new arrivals. “Not only for migrants, I’m scared for my locals as well. We are a generous and welcoming people, but I fear that we will not be able to manage the emergency anymore.”

      The Bihać Red Cross, along with other aid organisations and human rights groups, is pushing the government to find long-term solutions. But with an economy still recovering from the legacy of the war and a youth unemployment rate of almost 55 percent, it has been hard-pressed to find answers.

      Hope that the end of the election season might improve the national debate around migration appears misguided. Around 1,000 Bihać locals staged protests for three consecutive days, from 20-22 October, demanding the relocation of migrants outside the town centre. On the Saturday, Bihać residents even travelled to the capital, Sarajevo, blocking the main street to protest the inaction of the central government.

      The local government of the border district where most migrants and asylum seekers wait, Una-Sana, complains of being abandoned by the central government in Sarajevo. “We do not have bad feelings towards migrants, but the situation is unmanageable,” the mayor of Bihać, Šuhret Fazlić, told IRIN.

      To begin with most residents openly welcomed the migrants, with volunteers providing food and medical help. But tensions have been growing, especially as dozens of the latest newcomers have started occupying the main public spaces in the town.

      “They turned our stadium into a toilet and occupied children’s playgrounds,” said Fazlić. “I would like to understand why they come here, but what is important at the moment is to understand where to host them in a dignified manner.”
      Beatings and abuse

      Those camped near the Croatian border have all entered Bosnia illegally. Each night, they wait to enter “The Game” – as they refer to attempts to cross the frontier and strike out into dense forests.

      Most are detained and pushed back into Bosnia by the Croatian police. Some reach Slovenia before being deported all the way back. Abuse is rife, according to NGOs and human rights groups. Those who have attempted to cross say Croatian police officers destroy their phones to prevent them from navigating the mountains, beat them with electric batons, unleash dogs, steal their money, and destroy their documents and personal belongings. Croatia’s interior ministry has strongly denied allegations of police brutality.

      No Name Kitchen, a group of activists that provides showers, soap, and hygiene products to migrants in Velika Kladuša, has been documenting cases of violence allegedly committed by the Croatian police. In August alone the organisation collected accounts from 254 deportees. Most claimed to have suffered physical violence. Of those cases, 43 were minors.

      Croatian media has reported cases of shootings, too. In late May, a smuggler’s van bringing migrants and asylum seekers from Bosnia was shot at and three people including a boy and a girl, both 12, were wounded.

      A report earlier this year from the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, collated accounts from 2,500 refugees and migrants allegedly pushed back from Croatia to Serbia and Bosnia. In more than 1,500 cases – 100 of them relating to children – asylum procedures were denied, and over 700 people made allegations of violence or theft.
      Winter housing needed

      In Velika Kladuša, two kilometres from the Maljevac border checkpoint, around 1,000 people live in a makeshift tent camp that turns into a swamp every time it rains. Temperatures here will soon plummet below zero at night. Finding a new place for them "is a race against time and the key challenge,” said Stephanie Woldenberg, senior UNHCR protection officer.

      Already, life is difficult.

      “Nights here are unsustainable,” Emin, a young Afghan girl who tried twice to cross the border with her family and is among those camped in Velika Kladuša, told IRIN. “Dogs in the kennel are treated better than us.”

      Bosnian police reportedly announced last week that migrants are no longer allowed to travel to the northwest zone, and on 30 October said they had bussed dozens of migrants from the border camps to a new government-run facility near Velika Kladuša. Another facility has been set up near Sarajevo since the election. Together, they have doubled the number of beds available to migrants to 1,700, but it’s still nowhere near the capacity needed.

      The federal government has identified a defunct factory, Agrokomerc, once owned by the mayor of Velika Kladuša, Fikret Abdić, as a potential site to house more migrants. Abdić was convicted on charges of war crimes during the Balkan wars and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. He became mayor in 2016, after his 2012 release. His local government is strongly opposed to the move and counters that the migrants and asylum seekers should be equally distributed throughout Bosnia.

      For now, around 800 people live inside a former student dormitory in Velika Kladuša that is falling apart due to damage sustained during the Bosnian wars. Holes in the floor and the absence of basic fixtures and of a proper heating system make it highly unsuitable to house migrants this winter. Clean water and bathing facilities are scarce, and the Red Cross has registered several cases of scabies, lice, and other skin and vector-borne diseases.

      Throughout the three-storey building, migrants and asylum seekers lie sprawled across the floor on mattresses, waiting their turn to charge their phones at one of the few electrical sockets. Many are young people from Lahore, Pakistan who sold their family’s homes and businesses to pay for this trip. On average they say they paid $10,000 to smugglers who promised to transport them to the EU. Several display bruises and abrasions, which they say were given to them by Croatian border patrol officers as they tried to enter Croatia.

      The bedding on one mattress is stained with blood. Witnesses told IRIN the person who sleeps there was stabbed by other migrants trying to steal his few belongings. “It happens frequently here,” one said.


      https://www.irinnews.org/news-feature/2018/10/31/bleak-bosnian-winter-migrants-camped-out-new-route-europe

    • ’They didn’t give a damn’: first footage of Croatian police ’brutality’

      Migrants who allegedly suffer savage beatings by state officials call it ‘the game’. But as shocking evidence suggests, attempting to cross the Bosnia-Croatia border is far from mere sport.

      As screams ring out through the cold night air, Sami, hidden behind bushes, begins to film what he can.

      “The Croatian police are torturing them. They are breaking people’s bones,’’ Sami whispers into his mobile phone, as the dull thumps of truncheons are heard.

      Then silence. Minutes go by before Hamdi, Mohammed and Abdoul emerge from the woods, faces bruised from the alleged beating, mouths and noses bloody, their ribs broken.

      Asylum seekers from Algeria, Syria and Pakistan, they had been captured by the Croatian police attempting to cross the Bosnia-Croatia border into the EU, and brutally beaten before being sent back.

      Sami, 17, from Kobane, gave the Guardian his footage, which appears to provide compelling evidence of the physical abuses, supposedly perpetrated by Croatian police, of which migrants in the Bosnian cities of Bihac and Velika Kladusa have been complaining.

      The EU border agency, Frontex, announced on Wednesday that this year is likely to produce the lowest number of unauthorised migrants arriving into Europe in five years.

      Frontex said that approximately 118,900 irregular border crossings were recorded in the first 10 months of 2018, roughly 31% lower than the same period in 2017.
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      Despite this steady decline in numbers, many states remain embroiled in political disputes that fuel anti-migrant sentiment across Europe.

      Frontex also noted that, while entries are declining, the number of people reaching Europe across the western Mediterranean, mostly through Spain from Morocco, continues to rise. Nearly 9,400 people crossed in October, more than double the number for the same month last year.

      But the brutality of what is happening on Europe’s borders is not documented. Every night, migrants try to cross into Croatia. And, according to dozens of accounts received by the Guardian and charities, many end up in the hands of police, who beat them back to Bosnia.

      No Name Kitchen (NNK), an organisation consisting of volunteers from several countries that distributes food to asylum seekers in Serbia, Bosnia and Italy, registers 50-100 people a week who have been pushed back by the Croatian authorities. Roughly 70% of them claim to have been beaten.

      “In the last months our team in Bosnia and Herzegovina has regularly treated patients – sometimes even women and small children – with wounds allegedly inflicted by state authorities when attempting to cross into Croatia and Slovenia, where, according to their testimonies, their claims for asylum and protection are regularly ignored,” says Julian Koeberer, humanitarian affairs officer in the northern Balkans for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
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      Since the turn of the year, the Bosnian authorities have registered the entry of about 21,000 people, coming from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran or Syria. Of these, an estimated 5,000 remain in the country.

      Of 50 people to whom the Guardian spoke, mostly from Pakistan, 35 said they had been attacked by Croatian police. The majority of them arrived in Bosnia through Turkey, hoping to reach Slovenia, a Schengen country, before heading to Italy, Austria or Germany.

      ‘‘The Iranian police broke all my teeth, the Croatian ones broke my nose and ribs,” says Milad, 29, an Iranian asylum seeker who since September has lived in Bihac. “Yet everyone talks about the violence in Iran and nobody talks about the violence perpetrated by a European country.”

      Adeel, 27, from Pakistan, claims he had his ankle broken with a truncheon. ‘‘Where are the human rights?” he asks.

      Anees, 43, also from Pakistan, says he begged the police not to beat him after he was stopped in the woods on the border with Velika Kladusa. ‘‘I have a heart disease, I told them to stop because they could have killed me,’’ explains Anees, whose medical conditions are detailed in a clinical file.

      On 9 June 2018, he had heart surgery at the Zdravstveni centre hospital in the Serbian city of Uzice. After the operation, he continued his journey. He struggles to breathe as he tells his story: ‘‘I told him I was sick, I showed them the clinical file. They did not give a damn. They started beating me and sent us back to Bosnia. But it does not matter. Tomorrow I will try the game again.’’

      That’s what migrants call it: ‘the game”. But there is nothing fun about it. They set off in groups: 70 or 80 people, or sometimes as few as five to 10. Police, armed with truncheons, pistols and night vision goggles, patrol Europe’s longest border between Bosnia and Croatia. According to accounts provided by more than 10 migrants, some officers wear paramilitary uniforms with a badge depicting a sword upraised by two lightning bolts. This is the badge of Croatian special police.

      “They stop us and, before beating us, they frisk us”, says Hamdi, 35, An Algerian language teacher. “If they find money, they steal it. If they find mobile phones, they destroy them to avoid being filmed or simply to stop us from contacting our friends. And then they beat us, four or five against one. They throw us to the ground, kick us, and beat us with their truncheons. Sometimes their dogs attack us. To them, we probably don’t seem much different from their dogs.”

      Hamdi is one of three men traveling with Sami. The screams in the video are his. His face is covered in blood when he reaches his friends. His nose is broken, his lips swollen.

      “After repeatedly being pushed back or forced to return to Bosnia on their own, asylum seekers find themselves in unsanitary, improvised settlements such as open fields and squats while formal government camps are full,” says Koeberer.

      “Those sites still offer alarmingly inadequate conditions due to only slow improvement in provision of winter shelter (food, hygiene, legal status and medical care), and these inhumane living conditions have severe impact on people’s physical and mental health. In winter, the lives of those who are forced to remain outside will seriously be at risk.’’

      At the camp in Velika Kladusa, where Hamdi lives, dozens of people sit in the mud and on piles of rubbish, awaiting the arrival of the doctors. On man has a cast on his arm and leg, the result, he says, of a police beating. Others show black eyes, bruises on their backs and legs, lumps and wounds on their heads, split lips, and scars on their legs.

      ‘‘There have been cases in which migrants claimed to have been stripped and forced to walk barefoot with temperatures below freezing,” said Stephane Moissaing, MSF’s head of mission in Serbia. “Cases where asylum seekers have told how police would beat children in front of their parents. From the information we have, up until now, it is a systematic and planned violence.”

      Karolina Augustova, an NKK volunteer, says violence has increased since October protests in which hundreds of asylum seekers marched from the north-western town of Velika Kladusa towards Croatia to object against pushbacks that violate the rights of people to seek asylum in Europe.

      The Bosnian police appear to be aware of the assaults. A Bosnian police agent guarding the camp in Velika Kladusa, who prefers to remain anonymous, points out a bruise on a boy’s leg. “You see this bruise?” he says. “It was the Croatian police. The Bosnian police know, but there is no clear and compelling evidence, just the accounts of the refugees and their wounds.”

      The majority of Bosnians live in peace with migrants and view them as refugees. The scars from the war that ravaged this area in the early 1990s are everywhere, in the abandoned homes riddled with machine gun fire and in the collective memory of Bosnians. People from Bihac and Velika Kladusa know what it means to flee from war. The minarets of the numerous mosques along the border are a reminder that Bosnia is the closest Muslim community in Europe.

      “I feel sorry for these people,’’ says the policeman on guard. ‘‘They remind me of the Bosnians when the war devastated our country.’’

      MSF, NNK and a number of other organisations have repeatedly reported and denounced violence perpetrated by the security forces in the Balkans, but Croatian police deny all the allegations.

      The Guardian has contacted the Croatian interior minister, the police and the Croatian government for comment, but has received no response.

      Abdul, 33, recently arrived in Velika Klaudusa after a journey that lasted over a year. He comes from Myanmar and has lost everything: his wife and children were killed, and he has no news of his father, mother and sisters. Abdul has heard about the violence and is worried. The migrants around him, with bandaged legs and noses and bleeding mouths, cause fear.

      “I lost everything, yes, it’s true,” he says. “But I have to get to Europe, one way or another. To make sense of what I lost. I owe it to my dead children. To my wife who was killed. To those who have not had the good fortune to have arrived here safe and sound.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/nov/14/didnt-give-a-damn-refugees-film-croatian-police-brutality-bosnia

    • A la frontière bosno-croate, des matraques pour les migrants

      Les policiers croates violentent les exilés bloqués entre les deux pays, nouveau point de passage de la route des Balkans. Mais dans la région, la #solidarité s’organise.

      L’intervention de la police bosnienne est fixée à 18 heures au poste frontière de Maljevac, entre la Bosnie-Herzégovine et la Croatie. Des dizaines de riverains s’y sont massées, ce jour-là, pour assister à cette opération qui va déloger les migrants qui campent depuis une semaine à 300 mètres de la douane. « Je n’ai rien contre les réfugiés, mais 200 personnes ne peuvent pas bloquer toute une ville », explique un Bosnien d’une cinquantaine d’années. Deux heures plus tard le passage est rouvert. Nous sommes à Velika Kladusa, dans le canton d’Una-Sana, dans le nord-ouest de la Bosnie, le long de la dernière déviation de la « route des Balkans ». Depuis le début de l’année, plus de 21 000 personnes (venant du Pakistan, d’Afghanistan ou encore d’Iran) ont choisi de traverser la Bosnie-Herzégovine dans l’espoir d’atteindre l’ouest de l’Europe. Et alors que 5 000 d’entre eux seraient toujours bloqués dans le pays, Sarajevo a enregistré ces dernières semaines une hausse des arrivées, avec environ 1 000 nouvelles entrées hebdomadaires.

      Sachets à emporter

      Dans ce petit bourg, la situation a dégénéré fin octobre lorsque des centaines de migrants ont tenté d’entrer de force en Croatie, avant d’être repoussés par les policiers. A la suite de ces heurts qui ont fait plusieurs blessés, Zagreb a décidé de suspendre pendant une semaine le transit à Maljevac : une très mauvaise nouvelle pour cette ville qui vit du commerce avec la Croatie et dont les habitants commencent à s’agacer d’une situation qui s’enlise. « La Croatie est à moins de 2 kilomètres dans cette direction », indique Asim Latic en pointant du doigt la plaine qui s’étend derrière les buissons. Avant d’ajouter : « Mais les réfugiés, eux, passent par les bois, et cela prend plusieurs jours de marche. » Ce restaurateur de Velika Kladusa, propriétaire de la pizzeria Teferic, fait partie des habitants qui se sont engagés dans l’aide aux migrants dès février, lorsque des dizaines, puis des centaines de personnes sont arrivées dans ce coin de la Bosnie.

      Pendant neuf mois, il a offert chaque jour 400 repas à autant d’exilés. Début novembre, après une chute des dons de la communauté locale, il a bien cru devoir mettre la clé sous la porte. « Les Bosniens ont aussi connu la guerre, mais ils sont fatigués », explique ce grand gaillard que les réfugiés appellent « papa ». De temps en temps, il leur prépare de la nourriture dans des sachets à emporter, « pour qu’ils survivent dans la forêt ». Le chemin des bois est emprunté par tous ceux qui ne peuvent pas se permettre les tarifs des passeurs : 2 000 euros ou plus pour aller en voiture à Trieste en Italie, 1 200 euros pour descendre à Split en Croatie. A pied, il faut marcher environ une semaine, assurent les migrants : 80 kilomètres en Croatie, puis, une fois entrés en Slovénie, on se dirige vers l’Italie ou l’Autriche. Mais c’est sans compter sur l’intervention de la police croate, véritable inconnue dans le game - nom donné ici aux tentatives de passage de la frontière.

      Non loin de la séparation bosno-croate, Aadi a décidé de planter sur sa tente le drapeau bleu et jaune de la Bosnie-Herzégovine. « Les Bosniens sont des gens accueillants. Ce sont les policiers croates qui nous posent problème », dit-il. « Les policiers m’ont violemment frappé avec une matraque. Les conditions hygiéniques de ce camp ont fait le reste », renchérit Gabdar, un jeune Irakien qui arbore une plaie infectée à la main droite, où du pus s’est formé sous les croûtes. Youssef, un Tunisien trentenaire, se plaint que la police croate n’a pas seulement détruit son smartphone, mais aussi la powerbank, cette batterie externe indispensable à ceux qui passent de longs mois sur les routes.

      Ecrans brisés

      « Police, problem » est un refrain mille fois entendu. Dès que l’on mentionne les forces de l’ordre croates, les migrants sortent leurs portables. La multitude d’écrans brisés et les connecteurs d’alimentation rendus inutilisables avec des tournevis sont la preuve - disent-ils - des abus des policiers. Une accusation difficile à prouver, mais qui a attiré l’attention du Conseil de l’Europe (CoE). Début octobre, la commissaire aux droits de l’homme Dunja Mijatovic a invité Zagreb à faire la lumière sur ces allégations.

      D’après le CoE et le Haut Commissariat des Nations unies pour les réfugiés, la Croatie aurait expulsé collectivement 2 500 migrants depuis le début de 2018, « parmi eux, 1 500 personnes ont affirmé n’avoir pas pu soumettre une demande d’asile, tandis que 700 disent avoir été victimes de violences ou de vols de la part des policiers croates ». Joint par mail, le ministère de l’Intérieur de Zagreb assure que la police agit « dans le respect de la loi et des traités internationaux » et que « les vérifications effectuées jusque-là n’ont prouvé aucun cas de violence ».

      Au centre de Bihac, à 60 kilomètres au sud de Velika Kladusa, Ali, un Pakistanais de 17 ans se jette dans l’eau glaciale de la rivière Una et entreprend de se savonner les cheveux. Sur les bancs du parc alentour, d’autres migrants tuent le temps, cigarette ou smartphone à la main. La scène est devenue courante dans cette ville de 60 000 habitants, et la situation qui s’éternise agace certains locaux. Plusieurs pétitions ont fait leur apparition et quelques manifestations ont rassemblé un millier de personnes à Bihac, demandant aux autorités de trouver une solution à la présence des migrants en centre-ville.

      « Je n’ai rien contre les réfugiés, mais ces gens ne viennent pas de pays en guerre, ce sont des migrants économiques », affirme Sej Ramic, conseiller municipal à Bihac et professeur d’art, modérateur du groupe Facebook « Stop invaziji migranata ! Udruženje gradjana Bihaća » (« Stop à l’invasion des migrants ! Collectif de citoyens de Bihac »). Un argumentaire devenu habituel au sein de l’Union européenne, mais qu’on avait moins l’habitude d’entendre en Bosnie, pays lui-même marqué par une forte émigration.

      Face à cette opposition grandissante, le gouvernement du canton a entrepris d’arrêter les bus et les trains en provenance de Sarajevo et de renvoyer vers la capitale tous les migrants qui en descendent. Et dans le centre-ville de Biha, les policiers renvoient les migrants qui traînent vers le Dacki Dom. Cet ancien dortoir étudiant abandonné, dont la carcasse de béton nu se dresse au milieu des bois, héberge environ 1 000 personnes dans des conditions très précaires. Des centaines d’autres sont logées dans les environs, dans une ancienne usine de réfrigérateurs et dans un hôtel fermé depuis de nombreuses années. D’autres campent ou squattent des maisons abandonnées des alentours. L’objectif de l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM) est « d’atteindre, dans les prochains jours, une capacité d’hébergement de 5 000 personnes sur l’ensemble du territoire bosnien », indique Peter Van der Auweraert, coordinateur de l’OIM pour les Balkans occidentaux. Cependant, « si le flux actuel de 1 000 entrées par semaine devait continuer, nous serons bientôt dans une situation très compliquée », poursuit-il, et note qu’avec l’hiver qui arrive, « ce qui coince, c’est le timing ».

      L’UE a récemment débloqué 7,2 millions d’euros pour aider la Bosnie, l’un des pays les plus pauvres des Balkans, à gérer le flux migratoire. Alors qu’à Bihac les ouvriers s’affairent à sécuriser les bâtiments et que les ONG tentent de reloger les centaines de personnes toujours dans des tentes, Van der Auweraert souligne le manque de volonté politique des autorités locales. L’imbroglio institutionnel bosnien, hérité des accords de Dayton, complique davantage le processus décisionnel.

      Il est midi à Velika Kladusa, et la pizzeria Teferic est en pleine distribution. Des dizaines de migrants patientent pour s’asseoir devant une assiette de macaronis. Dans la cuisine, Halil et Refik - « c’est lui qui a arrêté le chauffeur de Mladic pendant la guerre », nous glisse Asim - s’affairent autour d’une énorme casserole. Deux jeunes Indiens et un Pakistanais de passage prêtent main forte à la petite équipe. Après neuf mois de travail bénévole dans la pizzeria, Asim est fatigué « physiquement et mentalement ». S’il a trouvé de l’aide auprès de l’association néerlandaise Lemon Foundation, l’avenir de leur activité reste fragile. Tout en contemplant le va-et-vient des migrants à l’extérieur, il secoue la tête : « Mais que vont faire ces gens ? »

      https://www.liberation.fr/planete/2018/11/20/a-la-frontiere-bosno-croate-des-matraques-pour-les-migrants_1693271

    • Croatia: Migrants Pushed Back to Bosnia and Herzegovina

      Croatian police are pushing migrants and asylum seekers back to Bosnia and Herzegovina, in some cases violently, and without giving them the possibility to seek asylum, Human Rights Watch said.

      Human Rights Watch interviewed 20 people, including 11 heads of families and 1 unaccompanied boy, who said that Croatian police deported them to Bosnia and Herzegovina without due process after detaining them deep inside Croatian territory. Sixteen, including women and children, said police beat them with batons, kicked and punched them, stole their money, and either stole or destroyed their mobile phones.

      “Croatia has an obligation to protect asylum seekers and migrants,” said Lydia Gall, Balkans and Eastern EU researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Instead, the Croatian police viciously beat asylum seekers and pushed them back over the border.”

      All 20 interviewees gave detailed accounts of being detained by people who either identified themselves as Croatian police or wore uniforms matching those worn by Croatian police. Seventeen gave consistent descriptions of the police vans used to transport them to the border. One mother and daughter were transported in what they described as a police car. Two people said that police had fired shots in the air, and five said that the police were wearing masks.

      These findings confirm mounting evidence of abuse at Croatia’s external borders, Human Rights Watch said. In December 2016, Human Rights Watch documented similar abuses by Croatian police at Croatia’s border with Serbia. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported in August 2018 that it had received reports Croatia had summarily pushed back 2,500 migrants and asylum seekers to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina since the beginning of the year, at times accompanied by violence and theft.

      In response to a call by the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner to investigate the allegations, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic in September denied any wrongdoing and questioned the sources of the information. Police in Donji Lapac, on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, refused to provide Croatia’s ombudswoman, Lora Vidović, access to police records on treatment of migrants and told her that police are acting in accordance with the law.

      In a December 4 letter, Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic responded to a detailed description of the Human Rights Watch findings. He said that the evidence of summary returns and violence was insufficient to bring criminal prosecutions, that the allegations could not be confirmed, and that migrants accuse Croatian police in the hope that it will help them enter Croatia. He said that his ministry does not support any type of violence or intolerance by police officers.

      Croatia has a bilateral readmission agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina that allows Croatia to return third-country nationals without legal permission to stay in the country. According to the Security Ministry of Bosnia and Herzegovina, under the agreement, between January and November 27, Croatia returned 493 people to Bosnia and Herzegovina, 265 of whom were Turkish nationals. None of the people Human Rights Watch interviewed underwent any formal return procedure before being forced back over the border.

      The summary return of asylum seekers without consideration of their protection needs is contrary to European Union asylum law, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and the 1951 Refugee Convention.

      Croatian authorities should conduct thorough and transparent investigations of abuse implicating their officials and hold those responsible to account, Human Rights Watch said. They should ensure full cooperation with the Ombudswoman’s inquiry, as required by national law and best practice for independent human rights institutions. The European Commission should call on Croatia, an EU member state, to halt and investigate summary returns of asylum seekers to Bosnia and Herzegovina and allegations of violence against asylum seekers. The Commission should also open legal proceedings against Croatia for violating EU laws, Human Rights Watch said.

      As a result of the 2016 border closures on the Western Balkan route, thousands of asylum seekers were stranded, the majority in Serbia, and found new routes toward the EU. In 2018, migrant and asylum seeker arrivals increased in Bosnia and Herzegovina, from fewer than 1,000 in 2017 to approximately 22,400, according to the European Commission. The Commission estimates that 6,000 migrants and asylum seekers are currently in the country. Bosnia and Herzegovina has granted international protection to only 17 people since 2008. In 2017, 381 people applied for asylum there.

      Bosnia and Herzegovina has only one official reception center for asylum seekers near Sarajevo, with capacity to accommodate just 156 people. Asylum seekers and migrants in the border towns of Bihac and Velika Kladusa, where Human Rights Watch conducted the interviews, are housed in temporary facilities managed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) – a dilapidated building, a refurbished warehouse, and former hotels – or they sleep outdoors. The IOM and UNHCR have been improving the facilities. The EU has allocated over €9 million to support humanitarian assistance for asylum seekers and migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

      “Just because the EU is sending humanitarian aid to refugees in Bosnia and Herzegovina, that does not justify turning a blind eye to violence at the Croatian border,” Gall said. “Brussels should press Zagreb to comply with EU law, investigate alleged abuse, and provide fair and efficient access to asylum.”

      For detailed accounts by the people interviewed, please see below.

      Human Rights Watch interviewed 13 men, 6 women, and one 15-year-old unaccompanied boy. All interviewees’ names have been changed in order to protect their security and privacy. All interviews were conducted in English or with the aid of a Persian or Arabic speaking interpreter. Human Rights Watch informed interviewees of the purpose of the interview and its voluntary nature, and they verbally consented to be interviewed.

      Denied Access to Asylum Procedure, Summarily Returned

      All 20 people interviewed said that people who identified themselves as Croatian police or whom they described as police detained them well inside Croatian territory and subsequently returned them to Bosnia and Herzegovina without any consideration of asylum claims or human rights obstacles to their return.

      Nine said that police detained them and others and took them to a police station in Croatia. The others said that police officers took them directly to the border with Bosnia-Herzegovina and made them cross.

      Those taken to police stations said they were searched, photographed, and questioned about details such as their name, country of origin, age, and their route entering Croatia. They were not given copies of any forms. They said they were held there in rooms with limited or no seating for between 2 and 24 hours, then taken to the border. Three people said they asked for asylum at the police station but that the police ignored or laughed at them. Six others said they dared not speak because police officers told them to remain quiet.

      Faven F. and Kidane K., a married couple in their thirties from Eritrea, said they had been walking for seven days when they were detained on November 9, close to Rijeka, 200 kilometers from the border. They said that four men in green uniforms detained them in the forest and took them in a windowless white van without proper seats to a police station in Rijeka:

      They delivered us to new police. One was in plain clothes, the other one in dark blue uniform that said “Policija” on it…. At the station, they gave us a paper in English where we had to fill in name, surname, and place of birth…. A lady officer asked us questions about our trip, how we got there, who helped us. We told them that if Croatia can give us asylum, we would like to stay. The lady officer just laughed. They wrote our names on a white paper and some number and made us hold them for a mug shot. Then they kept us in the cell the whole night and didn’t give us food, but we could drink tap water in the bathroom.

      Yaran Y., a 19-year-old from Iraq, was carrying his 14-year old sister Dilva, who has a disability and uses a wheelchair, on his back when they were detained along with at least five others at night in the forest. Yaran Y. said he told officers he wanted asylum for his sister, but that the police just laughed. “They told us to go to Brazil and ask for asylum there,” Yaran Y. said.

      Ardashir A., a 33-year-old Iranian, was travelling with his wife and 7-year-old daughter in a group of 18 people, including 3 other children, the youngest of whom is under age 2. He said that Croatian police detained the group 12 kilometers inside Croatian territory on November 15 and took them to a police station:

      They [Croatian police] brought us to a room, like a prison. They took our bags and gave us only a few slices of bread. There were no chairs, we sat on the floor. Two people in civilian clothes came after a while, I don’t know if they were police, but they took a group picture of us and refused to let us go to the toilet. A 10-year-old child really needed to go but wasn’t allowed so he had to endure. After two hours they took us … to the border.

      Adal A., a 15-year-old boy from Afghanistan traveling on his own said that he was detained on November 15 near Zagreb and taken in a white windowless van to a police station:

      They searched us at the police station and took our phones, power banks, bags, and everything we had. They took three kinds of pictures: front, side, and back. We had to hold a paper with a number. I was asked questions about my name, where I am from, my age, and about the smuggler. I told them I’m 15. We then sat in a room for 24 hours and received no food but could get water from the tap in the toilet.

      Palmira P., a 45-year-old Iranian, said that a female police officer mistreated Palmira’s 11-year-old daughter during a body search in a police station courtyard on the outskirts of Rijeka in early November: “She pulled my daughter’s pants down in front of everyone. My daughter still has nightmares about this policewoman, screaming out in the middle of the night, ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it!’”

      Everyone interviewed said that Croatian police confiscated and never returned or destroyed their phones and destroyed power banks and phone chargers. Four people said that Croatian police forced them to unlock their phones before stealing them.

      Madhara M., a 32-year-old from Iran, said a police officer found a €500 bill in his pocket on November 15: “He looked at it, inspected it, and admired it and then demonstratively put it in his pocket in front of me.”

      Accounts of Violence and Abuse

      Seventeen people described agonizing journeys ranging from 15 minutes to five hours in windowless white police vans to the border. In two cases, people described the vans with a deep dark blue/black stripe running through the middle and a police light on top. A Human Rights Watch researcher saw a police van matching that description while driving through Croatia.

      Croatian roads close to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina cross windy, mountainous terrain. People interviewed said they had experienced nausea, vomited, or felt extreme cold or heat in the van. A 23-year-old Syrian woman said she believed the difficult van ride and pushback caused her to miscarry her 7-week pregnancy. Amez A., a 28-year-old Iraqi, said police sprayed what he thought was teargas into the van before closing the back doors and driving off, making everyone in the car vomit and have difficulty breathing.

      Sixteen people, including women and children, said that they were slapped, pummelled with fists, beaten with police batons made of rubber or wood, or kicked by people they described as or who identified themselves as Croatian police during the pushbacks.

      In many cases, the violence was accompanied by abusive language in English. Human Rights Watch observed marks and bruises on nine people and viewed photographs of injuries on four more who said they were the result of beatings by Croatian police officers. Four people said that they required treatment at Bosnian hospitals.

      Adal A., the 15-year-old unaccompanied boy, described a particularly vicious beating on November 16:

      They wore dark blue uniforms with masks, and as I exited the van, both police hit me with their batons. I felt a blow to my neck and I fell forward and wanted to get up. At that point, I was on the Bosnian side of the border stones, where another six Croatian police officers stood waiting. They were all over me, beating me. I don’t know how they beat me, but it was hard and strong, and I tried to protect my face. I was so badly beaten on my back that I still can’t sleep on it properly because of the pain. When they saw that my nose was bleeding, and that my hand was injured and that I couldn’t walk, they stopped…. They yelled “Go!” and as I was trying to leave, they fired guns in the air.

      Human Rights Watch interviewed Adal A. four days after he said this had happened and observed marks and bruises on his legs and arms.

      Aftab A., 37, from Iran, said that police officers in dark blue uniforms beat him and his 12-year-old son in what he called the “Tunnel of Death:”

      They [police] make this tunnel [lined up on each side] and you have to pass. They took us out of the van one by one and they started beating me with batons from both sides. I was beaten on my arm, shoulder, and on my knee with batons. My son was beaten with batons on his back and on his head…We kept screaming ‘my son my son!’ or ‘my dad my dad!’ but they didn’t care. They kept beating at us until we crossed the border. Even my wife was struck across her back with a baton. The child was so scared and was crying for half an hour and then wouldn’t speak for a long time.

      Madhara M., 32, from Iran, was taken to the border on November 15 along with four others, including a married couple. He said that Croatian police beat him and then threw him into a ditch he said separates Croatia from Bosnia and Herzegovina:

      There were about eight police officers in front of the van. But there were more behind them making sure we can’t run away. The first punch broke my tooth… I fell, and the officer rolled me over, and punched me in the eye. It was so painful, I tried to escape by crawling, but the police struck me with the baton on my back. Suddenly, I received a second blow on the same eye. Then the police officers grabbed me and threw me into the ditch. All along, they were laughing and swearing in English, things like ‘I will fuck your mother.’

      Bahadur B. and Nabila N., both 32 and from Iran, are a married couple who were traveling with Madhara M. Nabila N., who was three-months’ pregnant at the time, described the violence at the border:

      They [Croatian police] were standing four on one side and four on the other side. We call it the ‘terror tunnel.’ They told us to get out. Bahadur tried to help me down from the van, as I was stiff from the ride. When he did, the police started beating him…I turned and screamed at them to stop beating my husband, but…. I stumbled on a bag in the darkness…When I got up, I was face-to-face with a police officer who was wearing a mask. I kept screaming, “Please don’t do it, we will leave” but he deliberately hit me hard with his baton across my hand. I kept screaming “baby, baby!” during the whole ordeal but they didn’t listen, they just laughed.

      Both Yaran Y., 19, and his sister Dilva, 14, who has a physical disability, said they required medical treatment after Croatian police used physical force during the pushback in early July. Yaran Y. said:

      I was carrying Dilva on my back the whole way while others pushed her wheelchair. Our family travelled with five other people. It was dark, when the police surprised us by firing shots in the air. They police wore dark or black color uniforms and there were six or seven of them. I asked one of the police officers for asylum but he harshly pushed me so I fell with my sister on my back. In the fall, my sister and I landed on a sharp wooden log which severely injured her foot and my hand.

      A Human Rights Watch researcher observed scars on Dilva’s foot and Yaran’s hand and saw pictures of the fresh injuries.

      Sirvan S., 38, from Iraq, said Croatian police in dark blue uniforms beat him and his youngest son, age 6, during a pushback on November 14: “My son and I were beaten with a rubber baton. I was beaten in the head and on my leg. My son was beaten with a baton on his leg and head as well as he was running from the police.” Sirvan’s wife, 16-year-old daughter, and 14-year-old son witnessed the violence.

      Gorkem G., 30, travelling with his 25-year-old pregnant wife, 5-year-old son, and 2-year-old daughter, said that Croatian police pushed his son, so he fell hard to the ground. “He only wanted to say “hi” to the police,” Gorkem G. said

      Family members described the anger, frustration, and trauma they experienced seeing the police officers beat their loved ones. A 10-year-old Yazidi boy from Iraq said, “I saw how police kicked my father in his back and how they beat him all over. It made me angry.” His father, Hussein H., said that police officers had dragged him out of the van at the border and kicked and punched him when he was on the ground.

      Fatima F., 34, a Syrian mother of six, travelled with her husband’s 16-year-old brother and three of her children, ages 2, 4, and 10. She said that three police officers in dark uniforms beat her husband’s brother in front of her and her children:

      They were merciless […] One officer was by the van, one in the middle of the line of people, and one close to the path [into Bosnia and Herzegovina]. They kept beating the others with batons, and kicking. They [the officers] saw me and the kids but they just kept beating the men despite the kids crying. They didn’t beat me or the children, but the children were very afraid when they saw the men being beaten. My oldest girl kept screaming when she saw my husband’s brother get beaten…[she] screams out in the middle of the night.

      In three cases, people said they were forced to cross ice-cold rivers or streams even though they were near a bridge.

      Thirty-year-old Abu Hassan A. from Iran, travelling in a group of seven other single men, said:

      They [police] were wearing masks. There was a bridge about 50-60 meters away. More than six police were guarding the bridge. It [the stream] was about 5-6 meters wide and waist high and muddy. They told us we have to cross. Then the police… beat me with batons and kicked me, and the first handed me over to the second police who did the same thing, and then handed me over to the third, who did the same thing. After that, I was close to the riverbank, where two other police were waiting. The first one beat me again with baton and pushed me toward the other. They beat me on the legs, hands, arms, shoulders. This is what they did to force us to go into the water and across. I could barely stand or walk for a week after.

      https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/12/11/croatia-migrants-pushed-back-bosnia-and-herzegovina

    • Why are police in Croatia attacking asylum seekers trapped in the Balkans?

      Hearing increasing reports of police brutality against refugees on the Croatia-Bosnia border, Human Rights Watch is demanding action from Zagreb and the EU Commission.

      In November, I spent four days talking to migrants, including asylum seekers, in dilapidated, freezing buildings in Bihac and Velika Kladusa in Bosnia Herzegovina, an area close to the Croatian border. I heard the same story over and over: Croatian police officers beat and robbed them before illegally forcing them over the border to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

      Unfortunately, in my work as the Eastern Europe and Balkans researcher at Human Rights Watch, these stories are not new to me. But what really struck me this time around was the sheer brutality and cruelty of the police assaults.

      “They are merciless,” 34-year-old Fatima*, from Syria, said of Croatian police officers. She and her three young children, the youngest only two years old, were forced to watch Croatian police officers beat her 16-year-old brother-in-law. “My 10-year-old daughter suffered psychologically since it happened, having nightmares,” Fatima said.

      Nabila*, an Iranian woman who was three months pregnant at the time, told me a police officer struck her on her hand with a baton though she told him and other officers repeatedly that she was pregnant.

      Sirvan*, from Iraq, said a Croatian police officer beat his six-year-old son with a baton on his leg and his head as he was trying to run away from the police beatings.

      Yaran*, also from Iraq, was carrying his 14-year-old sister, Dilva*, who has a physical disability and uses a wheelchair, when Croatian police officers manhandled them. “When they captured us, I immediately told them ‘asylum’ but one police officer just pushed me hard so I fell backwards with my sister on my back.” They both required medical treatment after they were forced back to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

      Croatia’s interior ministry has denied any wrongdoing but testimonies from migrants continue to emerge.

      Since March 2016, when the Western Balkan route was closed, many people have found themselves stuck in the Balkans. After fleeing countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Eritrea, Pakistan and Bangladesh, people had travelled through Turkey to Greece or Bulgaria, and onwards to Macedonia and Serbia.

      There are now between 6,000 and 8,000 people trapped in Serbia and around 6,000 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who want to move onwards to EU states and particularly to Western Europe.

      Many have tried to cross to Hungary and Croatia but are met with violence from border guards. Most of the people I talked to had been walking for days inside Croatia by the time police detained them.

      Some were taken to police stations, where they were denied food for up to 24 hours; others were taken directly to the border. They were transported in windowless locked vans on winding mountainous roads on trips of up to five hours. People kept sliding off the narrow benches, bumping into each other, and throwing up.

      At the border, a “Tunnel of Terror” – as some called it — greeted them. A gauntlet of police officers beat them, pushing each person to the next officer and then to the next, laughing and mocking them on the way.

      Tired and beaten, migrants and asylum seekers were then chased down a slippery slope or thrown into a ditch four to five meters deep that is the de facto border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina or made to wade across an ice-cold stream.

      Most of the 20 people I interviewed, including parents with their children, the girl with a disability, and pregnant women, said they were brutally forced across the border in the cold of dark winter nights.

      Every person I interviewed also said that Croatian police robbed them of their phones and money. They kept the good phones, forcing people to surrender their passcodes, and smashed the rest. Money, if found, was stolen too.

      All this is going on at the EU’s borders. With total impunity.

      And it has been going on for some time. I documented similar abuses on Croatia’s border with Serbia two years ago. The government rejected our allegations and the EU didn’t act. In two years, rather than improving, the situation has got worse.

      More recently, the Croatian government dismissed concerns raised by UN refugee agency UNHCR and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and told us they didn’t have enough evidence to bring prosecutions and that allegations can’t be confirmed.

      The EU provides funds for humanitarian assistance to migrants and asylum seekers in Bosnia and Herzegovina that, while helpful, cannot justify turning a blind eye to neighbouring member state, Croatia, blatantly breaking EU laws and ignoring violence committed against those same people.

      Croatian authorities need to take these allegations seriously. They need to immediately open an investigation into the summary returns and violence by Croatian police against migrants and asylum seekers. And they need to hold those responsible to account.

      It’s also well past time for EU institutions to break their silence and send a strong message to Zagreb that pushbacks and violence flies in the face of Croatia’s legal obligations. The EU should make failure by Zagreb to address this issue come at a serious cost.

      *Names have been changed to protect identities.

      https://lacuna.org.uk/migration/why-police-croatia-attacking-asylum-seekers-trapped-in-the-balkans

      #Velika_Kladusa

    • Croatia violating EU law by sending asylum seekers back to Bosnia

      Hidden cameras capture apparent expulsions by Croatian border police in forest.

      Croatian police are returning groups of asylum seekers across the EU’s external border with Bosnia, a video obtained by the Guardian suggests, in an apparent breach of EU law.

      Footage shared by the watchdog organisation Border Violence Monitoring (BVM) shows a number of alleged collective expulsions or “pushbacks” of migrants in a forest near Lohovo, in Bosnian territory.

      The videos, filmed on hidden cameras between 29 September and 10 October, capture 54 incidents of people being pushed back in groups from Croatia into Bosnia with 368 people in total returned, according to the footage.

      Bosnia-Herzegovina’s security minister, Dragan Mektić, told the news channel N1 the behaviour of the Croatian police was “a disgrace for an EU country”.

      Croatian police are returning groups of asylum seekers across the EU’s external border with Bosnia, a video obtained by the Guardian suggests, in an apparent breach of EU law.

      Footage shared by the watchdog organisation Border Violence Monitoring (BVM) shows a number of alleged collective expulsions or “pushbacks” of migrants in a forest near Lohovo, in Bosnian territory.

      The videos, filmed on hidden cameras between 29 September and 10 October, capture 54 incidents of people being pushed back in groups from Croatia into Bosnia with 368 people in total returned, according to the footage.

      Bosnia-Herzegovina’s security minister, Dragan Mektić, told the news channel N1 the behaviour of the Croatian police was “a disgrace for an EU country”.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAmdAjzcrcA


      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/17/croatia-violating-eu-law-by-sending-back-asylum-seekers-to-bosnia?CMP=s

    • ‘Unverifiable information from unknown migrants’? – First footage of push-backs on the Croatian-Bosnian border

      By now our database contains more than 150 push-back reports from the Bosnian-Croatian border. In light of this figure it seems hard to deny this illegal practice of collective expulsions of people seeking protection, perpetrated by the Croatian police and often accompanied by violence. The people returning from the border with broken arms or legs, or showing bloodshot eyes and marks of beatings with batons on their backs, are no isolated cases. Their injuries and testimonies prove irrefutably institutionalised and systematically applied practices – even if the Croatian Minister of the Interior [1] continues to deny these accusations and instead prefers to accuse refugees of self-injury [2]. Meanwhile, various large international media have taken up the topic and report on developments at the Bosnian-Croatian border. The Guardian, for example, recently published a video showing a refugee bleeding from several wounds just after a pushback [3]. Yet, for some reason, up to now the available evidence has not been enough to hold the responsible persons and institutions accountable. New video material provided to BVM by an anonymous group should now close this gap in evidence.

      VIDEO MATERIAL PROVES ILLEGAL PUSH-BACKS FROM CROATIA

      On 20 November we received a letter containing extensive video footage from the Bosnian-Croatian border area. For security reasons, the informants themselves prefer to remain anonymous; yet for the extensiveness and level of detail of the material in concordance with other reports, we consider it authentic. The footage was filmed by hidden cameras in a forest near Lohovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, (Coordinates 44.7316124, 15.9133454) between 29 September and 10 October 2018 and show 54 push-backs.

      At least 350 refugees, including small children, minors and women, can clearly be seen on the video recordings as victims of these pushbacks, which take place several times a day and at night. Should they occur just as frequently as during the filmed period, the number of push-backs at this border crossing alone exceeds 150 per month. For the first time, the material can unambiguously prove that the Croatian police systematically conducts collective expulsions on Bosnian territory.

      The group’s report accompanying the material reads:

      “These push-backs are not conducted at an official border checkpoint and without the presence of Bosnian officials and are therefore illegal. In addition, documentation by various NGOs suggests that asylum applications by refugees were previously disregarded.”

      These expulsions over the green border do not follow formal return procedures [4] and can thus not be justified with the 2007 readmission agreement between the EU and Bosnia. The only legal way to return people would be through the readmission process at the official border crossing after a readmission application has been made to the Bosnian authorities.

      PROOF OF MULTIPLE CRIMINAL OFFENCES

      In not complying with these procedures, the police officers involved violate international law, in particular the prohibition of collective expulsions laid down in Article 4 of the Fourth Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights [5] and Article 19 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights [6]. Similarly, the right to asylum, as agreed in the Geneva Convention on Refugees [7] and Article 18 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, is not granted.

      “According to first-hand accounts, the officials inflict violence during approximately one in five push-backs in Lohovo, which is considerably less than on other push-back locations on the Bosnian-Croatian border. Here as in other locations, mobile phones are almost always destroyed and returned in a yellow plastic bag.”

      In the videos themselves, the violence becomes apparent in the form of kicks and insults. Shots and screams that can be heard at close range indicate that the beatings and humilliations which are extensively documented by various NGOs [8], take place nearby.

      Interestingly enough, the group seems to be planning to release even more video material from the border:

      “We already have more recordings from other locations and will publish them as soon as we have collected enough material. Since push-backs at other locations often take place at night, we work here with thermal cameras and other special equipment.”

      With their work, the group aims to contribute to the end of push-backs and police violence in Croatia, they state:

      “We demand that the human rights violations at the Bosnian-Croatian border stop immediately. For this it is necessary that they are examined in an official investigation both internally, by the Croatian Minister of the Interior, and by the European Commission, which co-finances Croatian border security from the Internal Security Fund (ISF).”

      BVM supports these demands. Now more than ever, the evidence is calling for immediate investigations by the Croatian authorities as well as by the European Union of which Croatia is a member state and which co-funds Croatian border security. The European Commission should call on Croatia to stop and investigate collective expulsions of asylum seekers to Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as allegations of violence perpetrated by Croatian officers. The EU Commission should also open legal proceedings against Croatia for violating EU laws.

      We would like to make the material that was sent to us available to the general public, in order to make them visible as evidence of the everyday events at the borders of the European Union.

      The data package, including the report, an overview of the content of the material and all the videos, can be accessed or downloaded here:

      https://files.borderviolence.eu/index.php/s/EYZdTo0OeGXrCqW

      In case of queries we can establish encrypted communication with the anonymous group.


      https://www.borderviolence.eu/proof-of-push-backs

    • Human rights group files complaint against Croatian police

      A Croatian NGO working with migrants has filed a complaint against police who it claims used excessive force and violence against migrants, illegally pushing them back at the border with Bosnia.
      A human rights organization in Croatia on Wednesday filed a complaint against several Croatian police officers, whose identities are unknown. The organization claims that they are guilty of using excessive force, violence and other illegal behavior against migrants and refugees that were pushed back at the border with Bosnia.

      The complaint by the Center for Peace Studies (CMS), a Zagreb-based NGO, is based on footage published in recent days by Border Violence Monitoring (BVM), an international organization that collects evidence of abuse and illegal push-backs against migrants on the Balkan route.

      Video and witness statements

      BVM received the footage from an anonymous source in November. The organization said that it had verified that the videos were credible. They also argued that the footage was in line with hundreds of witness statements from migrants collected over the past year, according to which Croatian police systematically push back migrants towards Bosnia.

      The footage was reportedly filmed in September and allegedly shows a group of migrants lined up and Croatian police forcing them to return to Bosnia, without giving them the possibility to ask for asylum or international humanitarian protection. BVM said that this was against international law, because the incidents occurred in the so-called “green zone,” in the forest between the two countries, not at border crossings, and without the presence of Bosnian border guards.

      The footage also shows some incidents of Croatian police kicking, threatening and insulting migrants.

      Collective forced push-backs

      The Center for Peace Studies said that, for the first time, the footage offers undeniable proof corroborating the many complaints against Croatian police presented in recent months by international organizations including the Council of Europe, UNHCR, and Human Rights Watch. “The footage shows collective forced push-backs and the use of unjustified violence,” CMS said.

      The NGO has asked for an investigation by the judiciary as well as the resignation of the interior minister and some high-ranking members of Croatian police.

      Croatian Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said that he had not seen any video in which Croatian police made use of violence and that there was no substantial evidence that showed illegal conduct by the police. Croatia has always rejected accusations that its police engage in illegal behavior against migrants.

      http://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/14039/human-rights-group-files-complaint-against-croatian-police

    • En Bosnie, des milliers de réfugiés sont bloqués dans la neige aux frontières de l’Union européenne

      La Bosnie-Herzégovine est devenue un cul-de-sac aux portes de l’Union européenne, où sont bloqués plusieurs milliers d’exilés. Malgré les violences de la police croate et une neige redoutable, ils cherchent à continuer leur route vers l’Ouest.

      Depuis l’été, les témoignages et les rapports des organisations internationales s’accumulent : la police croate maltraite systématiquement les migrants et les réfugiés, et procède à des rapatriements forcés extra-légaux en Bosnie-Herzégovine. Le 16 décembre, le réseau Border violence monitoring a ainsi publié d’accablantes vidéos montrant comment les forces de l’ordre regroupaient des réfugiés arrêtés alors qu’ils tentaient d’entrer en Croatie et les forçaient à reprendre la route de la Bosnie-Herzégovine.

      Ces vidéos, réalisées en caméra cachée, documentent 54 cas de refoulement, effectués entre le 29 septembre et le 10 octobre dans la forêt de Lehovo, dans les régions montagneuses et très peuplées de Krajina, qui marquent la frontière entre les deux pays. Sur les vidéos, on peut dénombrer au moins 350 réfugiés, dont des femmes et des enfants. « Pour la première fois, des documents prouvent que la police croate mène systématiquement des expulsions collectives sur le territoire bosnien, note Border Violence Monitoring. Ces refoulements ne sont pas menés à un poste-frontière et ont lieu sans présence de représentants légaux de la Bosnie-Herzégovine, ils sont donc contraires au droit international. »

      https://twitter.com/Border_Violence/status/1074178137217478656

      Deux jours plus tôt, Human Rights Watch publiait un rapport accablant sur les actes de violence et de torture commis par la police croate. Zagreb interdit bien souvent aux réfugiés de déposer une demande d’asile, contrevenant ainsi à ses obligations internationales. L’organisation internationale affirme avoir recueilli les témoignages de 20 personnes, dont 16 évoquaient des brutalités systématiques, voire de véritables actes de torture commis par les forces de l’ordre croates, ainsi que des vols d’argent et de téléphones portables.

      Le Commissaire des Nations unies pour les réfugiés confirmait de son côté en août 2018 avoir reçu des rapports qui soulignaient que la Croatie avait illégalement refoulé 2 500 migrants et demandeurs d’asile vers la Bosnie-Herzégovine et la Serbie depuis le début de l’année dernière. Ces accusations ont été réfutées par le premier ministre croate Andrej Plenković, dans une réponse à une interpellation du Conseil de l’Europe.

      Depuis plusieurs mois, les associations et les collectifs croates de soutien aux réfugiés font d’ailleurs l’objet d’un véritable harcèlement : attaques de leurs locaux ou de leurs véhicules par des « inconnus », poursuites judiciaires contre plusieurs militants. Ces collectifs viennent d’ailleurs de publier une « Lettre ouverte aux citoyens de l’Union européenne depuis la périphérie », soulignant que les politiques de fermeture des frontières pourraient faire basculer tous ces pays de la périphérie européenne – membres ou non de l’Union – dans des régimes de plus en plus autoritaires.

      Dragan Mektić, le ministre de la sécurité de Bosnie-Herzégovine, a pourtant confirmé à la télévision N1 la réalité de ces mauvais traitements. « Le comportement de la police croate est une honte pour un pays membre de l’Union européenne. Les policiers se font les complices des trafiquants, en poussant les migrants dans les mains des réseaux criminels », a-t-il expliqué. Depuis la fermeture de la « route des Balkans », au printemps 2016, et l’édification d’un mur de barbelés le long de la frontière hongroise, les candidats à l’exil empruntent de nouvelles routes depuis la Grèce, transitant par l’Albanie, le Monténégro et la Bosnie-Herzégovine, ou directement depuis la Serbie vers la Bosnie-Herzégovine, devenue une étape obligatoire sur la route vers l’Union européenne.

      La région de Bihać constitue effectivement un cul-de-sac. Selon les chiffres officiels, 18 628 réfugiés ont été enregistrés en Bosnie-Herzégovine en 2018. Au 18 décembre, 5 300 se trouvaient dans le pays, dont au moins 4 000 dans le canton de Bihać, les autres étant répartis dans des centres d’accueil à proximité de la capitale Sarajevo ou de la ville de Mostar. La majorité d’entre eux ne fait que transiter, alors que des températures polaires et de fortes neiges se sont abattues sur la Bosnie-Herzégovine depuis la fin du mois de décembre.

      À Velika Kladuša, une petite ville coincée à la frontière occidentale du pays, le camp de Trnovi a été évacué mi-décembre et tous ses habitants relogés dans l’ancienne usine Miral, aménagée en centre d’hébergement d’urgence par l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM). « Les conditions sont très précaires, mais au moins, il y a du chauffage », se réjouit Husein Kličić, président du Comité cantonal de la Croix-Rouge.

      Les entrées en Bosnie-Herzégovine se sont ralenties avec l’arrivée de l’hiver, 450 par semaine en novembre contre 1 200 un mois plus tôt, selon Peter Van der Auweraert, directeur de l’OIM dans le pays, mais les flux ne se sont pas taris : en ce début janvier, de nouveaux groupes arrivent tous les jours au Monténégro, explique Sabina Talovic, volontaire dans la ville de Pljevlja, proche des frontières de la Bosnie-Herzégovine. Ces flux devraient recommencer à enfler une fois le printemps revenu.

      L’urgence est désormais de passer l’hiver. Selon Damir Omerdić, ministre de l’éducation du canton d’Una-Sana, une trentaine d’enfants installés avec leurs familles dans l’ancien hôtel Sreda, dans la ville de Cazin, devraient même pouvoir intégrer l’école primaire d’un petit village voisin et des négociations sont en cours avec un autre établissement. « Ils passeront deux ou trois heures par jour à l’école. Notre but est de leur permettre de faire connaissance avec d’autres enfants », explique-t-il à Radio Slobodna Evropa.

      La police du canton d’Una-Sana a observé, courant décembre, plusieurs groupes de réfugiés en train de s’engager dans le massif de Plješevica, qui fait frontière avec la Croatie. Non seulement, des secteurs n’ont toujours pas été déminés depuis la fin de la guerre, mais seuls des montagnards expérimentés et bien équipés peuvent s’engager en plein hiver dans ces montagnes dont les sommets culminent à plus de 1 600 mètres. Les policiers bosniens n’ont aucun mandat pour stopper les réfugiés qui prennent cette route dangereuse – mais si jamais ils parviennent à franchir ces montagnes, on peut hélas gager que la police croate les arrêtera.

      https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/130119/en-bosnie-des-milliers-de-refugies-sont-bloques-dans-la-neige-aux-frontier

    • Entre violences et désespoir, le quotidien des migrants oubliés en Bosnie-Herzégovine

      Ils sont plus de 3 500 dans les #camps surpeuplés à la frontière avec la Croatie, des centaines dans les squats insalubres à Sarajevo, et bien d’autres encore dans le reste du pays. Depuis plus d’un an, la Bosnie-Herzégovine subit afflux massif de migrants, auquel les autorités ont toutes les peines de faire face. Pour ces candidats à l’exil bloqués à la lisière de l’Union européenne, l’espoir de passer se fait de plus en plus ténu. « Entre violences et désespoir, le quotidien des migrants oubliés en Bosnie-Herzégovine », un Grand reportage de Jean-Arnault Dérens et Simon Rico.


      https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/15228/entre-violences-et-desespoir-le-quotidien-des-migrants-oublies-en-bosn
      #campement

    • In Bosnia, a Migrant Way Station Is Becoming a Winter Prison

      For years, the country remained untouched by the global migrant crisis, but now, even in a place where many people were once refugees, tensions are on the rise.

      BIHAC, Bosnia and Herzegovina—Zohaib Ali, a 22-year-old student from Pakistan, has attempted to cross into the European Union through the mountainous border separating Bosnia and Herzegovina from Croatia 16 times. Many of the migrants he met during his repeated efforts have now made it to Italy or France. “I tried, and they tried. … [I had] bad luck,” he told Foreign Policy in December. But bad luck is not the only element to blame.

      Ali speculated that if he had come to Bosnia earlier in the spring of 2018, when the border with Croatia wasn’t so heavily guarded, he might have succeeded. Instead, he arrived in August, finding himself in one of the world’s most difficult migration bottlenecks.

      For years, the global migrant crisis was a remote concern for Bosnia. Migrants traveling along the Balkan corridor first arrived in Greece by sea from Turkey and then moved toward Macedonia and Serbia in order to enter Croatia and Hungary, both EU member states. As in 2015 and 2016, countries along the route have closed their borders, sending migrants fanning out across the Balkans.

      Now, migrants leaving Greece go through jagged mountains and dense woodland to reach Albania, then Montenegro, only to find themselves stuck in Bosnia. This small, ethnically divided country with a dearth of economic opportunities has found itself at the epicenter of the crisis, as more people make their way in and can no longer find a way out.

      Since January 2018, more than 23,000 migrants and asylum-seekers have arrived in Bosnia. The year before, there were fewer than 1,000.

      The shift has caught the country’s authorities flat-footed. Many international actors, including the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, have expressed concerns over the slow and chaotic response to the needs of these new arrivals.

      Despite his determination to reach his brother in Germany or his sister in Canada, Ali has resolved to spend the winter in northwestern Bosnia before he attempts his next crossing in the spring. Maybe borders won’t be so heavily guarded and Croatian police so brutal, he speculates. He wasn’t beaten or attacked with dogs, as was the case for many less fortunate migrants, who have accused Croatian forces of systematic violence. But he was the victim of theft on multiple occasions. “They took my rucksack with belongings,” he recounted matter-of-factly.

      It’s an uncomfortable compromise. Ali’s efforts to find help to get out of Bosnia have been anything but fruitful. When a smuggler promised to get him a safe passage to Italy, Ali handed over 16,000 euros ($18,000), and in return, he received nothing.

      In Bosnia, he was told that he would need a visa. Then a smuggler took his passport and never gave it back, making his presence in Bihac—without documents or refugee status—completely illegal. “It’s not a problem,” Ali said. “There [are] too many migrants here. No one will notice.”

      Extreme temperatures are a factor, too. “The cold in the mountains is like ice going inside you, in your blood,” Ali said. In these conditions, around 4,000 others have made the same pragmatic decision—Bosnia will have to do, for now.

      For migrants and asylum-seekers stuck in Bosnia through the winter, options are limited. They’re allowed to stay in one of four refugee camps along the border with Croatia. The camps are temporary and were never intended for their current purpose.

      https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/02/20/in-bosnia-a-migrant-way-station-is-becoming-a-winter-prison-bihac-cro

    • Reçu via la mailing-list Inicijativa Dobrodosli, le 29.04.2019

      Since 18 July 2018, the border has been monitored by a Frontex airplane. Croatian border with Bosnia and Herzegovina is regularly patrolled by over 1,000 officers (out of a total of 6,500 border police officers) and there are additional 2,000 riot police officers deployed for border surveillance.

      #militarisation_des_frontières #Frontex #surveillance #surveillance_aérienne #police #Bosnie-Herzégovine #Croatie #frontières #surveillance_frontalière #contrôles_frontaliers

    • Kroatische Polizei bei illegaler Abschiebung gefilmt

      Kroatien schiebt Flüchtlinge an der grünen Grenze illegal nach Bosnien ab. Das verstösst gegen EU- und Völkerrecht.

      Ein verlassener Grenzabschnitt im Norden Bosniens Ende April. Aus dem Wald tauchen kroatische Uniformierte auf. Dahinter eine Gruppe von rund 30 Menschen mit Rucksäcken und Decken bepackt. Am Grenzstein zwischen Kroatien und Bosnien bleiben die Beamten stehen und schicken die Gruppe per Handbewegung nach Bosnien.

      Was aus der Ferne wie eine Grenzwanderung am Balkan aussieht, ist eine illegale Abschiebung von Flüchtlingen an der kroatischen EU-Aussengrenze. «Rundschau»-Reporter dokumentieren an zwei Tagen vier sogenannte Push-Backs. Die vier Aktionen betreffen rund 70 Menschen, hauptsächlich aus Pakistan, Algerien und Afghanistan.

      Knüppelhiebe und zerstörte Handys

      Die «Rundschau» konnte direkt nach den Push-Backs mit den betroffenen Migranten reden. Es ist das erste Mal, dass diese illegalen Ausschaffungen an der EU-Aussengrenze vollständig dokumentiert werden können.

      Die Betroffenen berichteten übereinstimmend, dass sie von der kroatischen Polizei ohne Verfahren an der grünen Grenze nach Bosnien zurückgeschafft worden seien. Bei den Push-Backs sei von kroatischen Beamten auch Gewalt angewendet worden.

      Ein junger Pakistani erzählt: «Sie haben uns im Wald aufgegriffen, alle in einen Van gesteckt und direkt zur Grenze gefahren. Die Fahrt dauerte etwa zwei Stunden. Dann haben sie unsere Handys zerstört und uns mit Knüppelhieben Richtung Bosnien geschickt».

      Das Geld, das einige dabeigehabt hätten, sei ihnen gestohlen worden. Diese und ähnliche Berichte über zum Teil brutales Vorgehen der kroatischen Grenzwächter dokumentieren NGO seit über einem Jahr.
      Asylanfragen ignoriert

      Eine afghanische Familie mit Kleinkindern berichtet, wie sie im Wald von kroatischen Polizisten gestoppt worden sei. «Sie richteten die Pistolen auf uns und sagten ‹Stopp›. Wir hatten grosse Angst und weinten», erzählt das älteste der Kinder. Als die Familie um Asyl gebeten habe, hätten die Beamten gelacht, man werde ihnen «bosnisches Asyl» geben – sie also nach Bosnien zurückschaffen.

      Die «Rundschau» sprach mit mehr als hundert weiteren Migranten und Flüchtlingen. Alle erklärten, dass sie daran gehindert worden seien, in Kroatien Asyl zu beantragen.

      Kein Einzelfall in Europa

      Die «Rundschau» legte die Filmaufnahmen Migrationsexperten und Menschenrechtsorganisationen vor. Der deutsche Migrationsforscher Marcus Engler ist deutlich: «Es ist ein Verstoss gegen EU-Recht und Völkerrecht.» Kroatien sei kein Einzelfall. «Diese Praxis wird an der ganzen EU-Aussengrenze angewendet.»

      András Léderer vom Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC), spricht von schweren Menschenrechtsverletzungen. Bei einer möglichen Rückführung von Migranten brauche es immer ein offizielles Verfahren – auch wenn diese illegal über die grüne Grenze eingereist seien. Jeder Mensch muss einzeln angehört, sein Fall einzeln geprüft werden.

      Aber das Video zeige klar: Hier finde eine kollektive Ausschaffung statt, was immer illegal sei. «Man darf Menschen nicht mitten im Wald oder auf einem Feld aus dem Land werfen», so Léderer. Dass die Zurückweisungen an der grünen Grenze inoffiziell stattfänden, also nicht in Gegenwart der bosnischen Behörden, sei eine klare Verletzung des Grenzabkommens.

      https://www.srf.ch/news/international/ausschaffung-ueber-gruene-grenze-kroatische-polizei-bei-illegaler-abschiebung-ge
      #vidéo

      Commentaire sur la vidéo de Inicijativa Dobrodosli, reçu par email, le 22.05.2019 :

      This week, the Swiss media SRF released a report containing recordings of police conduct on the Croatian border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The aforementioned report brings us new testimonies and evidence of illegal conduct of the Croatian police at the border with BH. Footage concretely demonstrate collective expulsion on the green border and a police van transporting people from the depths of the Croatian territory, which confirms that this is not a “discouragement”, and all without the presence of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian police that would be there in case of lawful readmission process. The testimonies reaffirm that this is a European problem, not just a Croatian one because refugees speak of chain pushbacks from Slovenia (https://push-forward.org/porocilo/report-illegal-practice-collective-expulsion-slovene-croatian-border) through Croatia to BH. Footage also brings shocking testimonies of children (https://www.srf.ch/play/tv/news-clip/video/kinder-erzaehlen-wie-sie-mit-waffengewalt-zurueckgedraengt-worden-sind?id=090062) describing police threats with weapons, as well as testimonies of denial of asylum seeking. The Ministry of Interior, as usual, rejects the responsibility without any counter-evidence or legally justified arguments. We wonder how many more violations of human rights should happen in order for the Croatian authorities to take responsibility and stop the illegal conduct.

    • Prvi intervju u kojem hrvatski policajac tvrdi: šefovi nam naređuju da ilegalno protjerujemo migrante

      Telegram ekskluzivno objavljuje priču Barbare Matejčić, nastalu nakon iscrpnih razgovora s pripadnikom MUP-a

      "Početkom 2017. vratio sam prvu grupu migranata. Naredbe sam dobivao od šefa smjene. Dakle, nazovem šefa, kažem da imamo grupu migranata. Često nam građani dojave kada vide migrante, a nekada bismo ih i sami našli na ulici. Šef smjene mi onda kaže da će me nazvati za 10 minuta. Nazove me na privatni mobitel na kojemu se ne snimaju razgovori, kaže da ih vozimo na granicu. Migranti kažu: ’Azil’, a mi: ’No azil’ i stavimo ih u maricu u kojoj isključimo vezu, koja inače stalno odašilje GPS signal, da se ne bi znalo gdje smo’, detaljno prepričava hrvatski policajac kojem, zbog zaštite, nećemo otkriti identitet

      “I ja i moje kolege policajci provodili smo nezakonita vraćanja migranta iz Zagreba na granicu Hrvatske s Bosnom i Hercegovinom i Srbijom. Doveli bismo ih pred zelenu granicu i rekli im da prijeđu nazad u Bosnu ili Srbiju. Nismo ih evidentirali. Takve smo naredbe dobivali od nadređenih u policijskoj postaji, nisu se policajci toga sami sjetili”, rekao nam je zagrebački policajac u razgovorima koje smo s njim vodili tijekom lipnja 2019. Time je potvrdio ono na što međunarodne i domaće organizacije poput Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Are You Syrious i Centar za mirovne studije upozoravaju već duže od dvije i pol godine: hrvatska policija suprotno hrvatskim i međunarodnim zakonima sustavno i organizirano provodi grupna protjerivanja izbjeglica s teritorija Republike Hrvatske na teritorije Republike Srbije i Bosne i Hercegovine. Pri tome im ne dozvoljava da zatraže azil u Hrvatskoj.

      Unatoč stotinama svjedočanstava samih izbjeglica koje tvrde da ih je hrvatska policija nezakonito protjerala u Bosnu i Srbiju, anonimnoj pritužbi koju je od pripadnika granične policije nedavno primila pučka pravobraniteljica Lora Vidović, snimkama protjerivanja koje su prikupile nevladine organizacije i mediji, tvrdnjama stanovnika Bosne i Hercegovine koji su vidjeli hrvatsku policiju kako protjeruje izbjeglice, hrvatsko Ministarstvo unutarnjih poslova negira sve optužbe. Također, MUP tvrdi da se ne radi o protjerivanju, već o zakonitom odvraćanju na samoj granici. No ovo je prvi put da izvor iz policije osobno novinarki potvrđuje grupna protjerivanja tražitelja azila, i to iz Zagreba, daleko od hrvatske granice. Riječ je o policajcu s dugim stažem u zagrebačkoj policiji, kojem zbog zaštite ne otkrivamo identitet kao ni policijsku postaju kojoj pripada.

      ‘Šef me zove na privatni mobitel, jer se ne snima i kaže mi da ih vozimo’

      “Početkom 2017. vratio sam prvu grupu migranata. Naredbe sam dobivao od šefa smjene, jer o svemu što se dogodi na terenu moraš obavijestiti šefa smjene. Dakle, nazovem šefa smjene, kažem da imamo grupu migranata. Često nam građani dojave kada vide migrante, a nekada bismo ih i sami našli na ulici. Šef smjene mi onda kaže da će me nazvati za 10 minuta. Nazove me na privatni mobitel na kojemu se ne snimaju razgovori, kaže da ih vozimo na granicu. Migranti kažu: ‘Azil’, a mi: ‘No azil’ i stavimo ih u maricu u kojoj isključimo vezu, koja inače stalno odašilje GPS signal, da se ne bi znalo gdje smo.

      Napravimo im pretres, bez naloga naravno, da vidimo odakle su ušli u Hrvatsku, imaju li neki račun iz kafića, karticu za mobitel, ili nam oni sami kažu. Kada utvrdimo iz koje zemlje su došli, tamo ih vodimo. Na putu bi se pri svakom ulasku i izlasku iz područja policijske postaje trebalo prijaviti operativno-komunikacijskom centru. I putuje se s putnim nalogom na kojem sve piše, gdje ideš i zašto. Kod vraćanja migranata to se ništa nije radilo. Njih se vraćalo bez ikakve dokumentirane procedure. Kao da ih nikada nismo našli ni odveli do granice“, prepričava postupak nezakonitih vraćanja naš izvor.

      ‘Na internetu smo sami proučavali zakone i shvatili da to nije legalno’

      U početku nije znao da je takav postupak nezakonit. “Kada je krenuo onaj prvi val izbjeglica 2015., dolazili su organizirano i dobivali smo smjernice kako da postupamo. Kada su kasnije počeli ilegalni prelasci, nitko nam nije rekao koja je procedura. Tek kada smo ih trebali procesuirati, jer nismo sve automatski vraćali na granicu, onda smo na internetu proučavali zakone i gledali što treba raditi. Sami smo se educirali i tako smo shvatili da način na koji smo mi to obavljali nije po zakonu.”

      Takvim postupanjem, za koje naš izvor optužuje hrvatsku policiju, osim što se krši pravo izbjeglicama da zatraže međunarodnu zaštitu, krše se i propisi prema kojima se ne smiju provoditi grupna protjerivanja, već individualni povratci, i to u zakonom predviđenom postupku uz propisanu dokumentaciju te u dogovoru s policijom zemlje u koju ih se vraća. Redom, krši se UN-ova Konvencija o statusu izbjeglica, Europska konvencija o ljudskim pravima, Povelja EU o temeljnim pravima, direktive koje reguliraju sustav međunarodne zaštite i postupke povratka državljana trećih zemalja, Zakonik o schengenskim granicama, hrvatski Zakon o strancima i Zakon o međunarodnoj i privremenoj zaštiti.

      ‘Neki policajci su odbijali to raditi, njih su odmah kažnjavali’

      Naš izvor nije ni jednom obavijestio bosansku ili srpsku policiju, već bi odveo grupu na zelenu granicu i protjerao ih same preko. Također ne postoji nikakav pisani trag o takvom postupanju. Izvor, nadalje, tvrdi kako nisu vraćali sve migrante koje bi našli. “Ako bi u grupi bile žene i djeca, ili ako je puno građana prijavilo da je vidjelo migrante – jer ti pozivi ostaju zabilježeni – ili ako bi ih našli usred dana na cesti kada bi postojala mogućnost da netko fotografira policiju kako odvodi migrante i može kasnije pitati gdje su ti ljudi, onda se išlo po proceduri”, tvrdi. Odvelo bi ih se u policijsku postaju, pokrenulo postupak utvrđivanja identiteta, fotografiralo bi ih se, uzelo otiske prstiju i smjestilo u Porin (prihvatilište za azilante) gdje im se pruža utočište do odluke hoće li im se udovoljiti zahtjevu za azil ili ne.

      Također, izvor kaže da nije svaki šef smjene naređivao nezakonita vraćanja, kao što ni svi policajci nisu to htjeli raditi: “Bilo je policajaca koji su odbili takve naredbe pa su za kaznu završili na čuvanju objekata. Šest mjeseci čuvaš zgradu i dobiješ bitno manju plaću, ukupno oko 3500 do 4000 kuna. Nakon što bi im se to dogodilo, nitko više nije odbio vratiti migrante na granicu.

      Po pravilniku bismo morali odbiti naredbu ako je protuzakonita i obavijestiti o tome neposrednog nadređenog osobe koja je izdala protuzakonitu naredbu. Ali, nemaš se kome obratiti, jer su te naredbe dolazile od nadređenih kojima bi se ti, kao, trebao žaliti. Svi smo znali da su šefovi smjene naredbe dobivali od svojih nadređenih, to je javna tajna. Takva je hijerarhija MUP-a. Imaš načelnika postaje i trojicu pomoćnika načelnika, nije se ni jedan šef smjene sam toga sjetio”, priča.
      Isključivo usmene naredbe, nema pisanih tragova

      Sve naredbe su, kaže, bile usmene i naš izvor nije nikada vidio pisani trag o tome. Također, nikada nije dobio naredbu da primjenjuje silu ili da uništava imovinu izbjeglica, iako su zabilježena brojna svjedočanstva o nasilju policije nad izbjeglicama. “Svakakve priče su kolale o tome, ali osobno nisam ni dobio takvu naredbu ni vidio da je netko od policajaca tukao migrante ili im uništio mobitel.” On je obavio četiri vraćanja, odnosno tri jer je jedno bilo neuspješno – dva u Bosnu i Hercegovinu i jedno u Srbiju.

      Svaki put se radilo o grupama mlađih muškaraca. Jednom ih je bilo devetero otraga u marici, a dvaput četrnaestero. Po zakonu se u marici u stražnjem dijelu može voziti najviše šestero ljudi. Iako tri vraćanja ne zvuči kao da se radi o čestoj praksi, napominje da je to ono što ga je zapalo u njegovoj smjeni, a da treba uračunati sve policajce u svim zagrebačkim postajama te smjene kroz 365 dana u godini, čime bi se došlo do puno veće brojke nezakonitih vraćanja samo s područja Zagreba.
      Zašto je odlučio progovoriti, iako bi mogao završiti u zatvoru?

      Zna da bi, kada bi se saznalo o kome se radi, mogao završiti u istražnom zatvoru. Ovime što je radio počinio je kazneno djelo, a nadređeni u policiji bi, uvjeren je, tvrdili da nije bilo nikakve naredbe. Zbog čega je, usprkos tome, pristao istupiti u medije?

      “Ni jedan policajac nije se sam sjetio da tjera ljude preko granice. Gdje će policajcu iz Zagreba pasti na pamet da skupi u maricu migrante i vozi ih na granicu? Ali nitko od šefova neće preuzeti odgovornost ako se sazna za takvo ponašanje, nego će reći da je policajac to sam napravio. Nije, već mu je naredio šef smjene, pomoćnici načelnika, načelnik policijske postaje, načelnik uprave… Po tom lancu išla je naredba na niže, do policajaca. Ali, nitko to neće reći i nastradat će obični policajci koji su najmanje krivi”, objašnjava svoje motive.

      Pravobraniteljica: ‘Zaštita policajaca koji časno rade svoj posao’

      Komentar smo zatražili od pučke pravobraniteljice Lore Vidović: “Ovi navodi, na žalost, samo potvrđuju ono što mi govorimo i pišemo već godinama, a MUP demantira bez argumenata. Ponovno se nameće pitanje kako u ovakvim okolnostima utvrditi odgovornost onih koji takva postupanja naređuju i provode, između ostaloga i kako bi se zaštitili oni policijski službenici koji časno obavljaju svoj posao. Osim toga, jedan od ključnih argumenata koji MUP neprekidno ističe je i kako su policijski službenici educirani za postupanje s migrantima, a sada vidimo da to ipak nije tako”, kaže pravobraniteljica.

      Vidović napominje i da MUP njenom uredu protivno zakonu brani pristup podacima i informacijskom sustavu MUP-a dok se komunikacija s policijskim službenicima “svodi na kontrolirano i šablonizirano davanje podataka”. Amnesty International je u svom opsežnom izvještaju, objavljenom u ožujku 2019., također utvrdio da su sustavna grupna protjerivanja, ponekad popraćena nasiljem i zastrašivanjem, redovita na granici između Hrvatske i Bosne i Hercegovine.
      Nevladine procjene kažu da je 2018. bilo 10.000 protjerivanja iz RH

      Milena Zajović Milka iz nevladine organizacije Are You Syrious kaže da je prema njihovim procjenama u 2018. bilo čak 10.000 protjerivanja iz Hrvatske. “Nezakonite prakse hrvatske policije nadilaze svaku vjerodostojnu mogućnost poricanja. Razmjeri i dosljednost izvještaja, video snimaka i uznemirujućih svjedočenja ljudi koji su iskusili loše postupanje u rukama hrvatske policije, ukazuju na sustavnu i namjernu politiku hrvatskih vlasti, a ne na dobro organiziranu urotu izbjeglica i migranata kako bi dobili međunarodnu zaštitu, kao što hrvatsko Ministarstvo unutarnjih poslova često sugerira.

      Želeći zaštitom vanjske granice EU pokazati svoju spremnost za pridruživanje schengenskoj zoni 2020., Hrvatska je postala jedan od europskih marljivih čuvara vrata. U svom pristupu migracijama, hrvatske vlasti se opasno približavaju ponašanju mađarske vlade protiv koje je Europska komisija pokrenula postupak zbog povrede propisa EU-a”, komentirala nam je Jelena Sesar, autorica izvještaja Amnesty Internationala. Ona napominje da treba provesti neko vrijeme na bosanskoj strani granice kako bi se svjedočilo grupama ljudi protjeranih duboko s hrvatskog teritorija. To smo i napravili.
      Slovenska policija ih ne tuče, za našu kažu: ‘Croatian police very bad’

      U Velikoj Kladuši i Bihaću krajem lipnja 2019. čuli smo desetine podjednakih svjedočenja izbjeglica: prešli su hrvatsku granicu, policija ih je uhvatila, razbila im mobitele da ne mogu dokazati gdje su uhvaćeni, da ne mogu dokumentirati što su im policajci napravili, a i da im otežaju ponovni prelazak. Većinu ih je, tvrde, hrvatska policija i pretukla. Mnogi su nam pokazivali svježe ozljede, kao i zarasle ožiljke od, kako tvrde, hrvatske policije.

      Umar (18), Rizwan (18) i Ali (19) su iz Pakistana i više puta ih je u Bosnu, tvrde, vratila hrvatska policija. Pričaju kako su ih tukli palicom. Uzeli im novac. Papire koje su dobili u Bosni su im uništili. Stvari, uključujući vreću za spavanje, su im zapalili. Jednom su došli do Slovenije, ali ih je uhvatila slovenska policija i predala hrvatskoj policiji, koja ih je pak protjerala u Bosnu, kažu. Slovenska policija ih nije tukla. “Croatian police very bad”, ponavljaju, a Umar svaki put doda: “I’m sorry, madam”, jer sam iz Hrvatske pa da me ne uvrijedi njihovo loše mišljenje o hrvatskoj policiji.

      Gradonačelnik Bihaća koji je naletio na hrvatske policajce s migrantima

      Jelena Sesar potvrđuje da su dokumentirali brojne slučajeve prisilnog vraćanja iz Slovenije, pa čak i Italije u Bosnu i Hercegovinu: “Takva se vraćanja događaju na, čini se, dobro organiziran način i kroz učinkovitu suradnju talijanske, slovenske i hrvatske policije, iako se ne radi o sustavnoj praksi”. I gradonačelnik Bihaća Šuhret Fazlić nezadovoljan je postupanjem hrvatske policije. Razgovarali smo u blizini Bihaća gdje je tijekom lova u siječnju 2019., kaže, zatekao dvojicu naoružanih hrvatskih policajaca koji su doveli grupu od 30 do 40 migranata.

      “Bili su otprilike 500 metara od granice s Hrvatskom. Predstavio sam se tim policajcima i rekao im da su na bosanskom teritoriju i da je to što rade nezakonito. Policajac je slegnuo ramenima i rekao da su dobili takve naredbe. Znam i ime tog policajca, ali mu ne želim stvarati probleme”, kaže gradonačelnik. Hrvatski ministar unutarnjih poslova Davor Božinović nazvao je čak i te gradonačelnikove tvrdnje “insinuacijama” i “lažnim optužbama”.
      Europska unija Hrvatskoj cijelo vrijeme šalje različite signale

      Ministar Božinović očigledno se osjeća dovoljno jakim i sigurnim da može opovrgavati sve dokaze o nezakonitostima policije kojom zapovijeda. Znači li to da ima potporu u EU u obrani njezine vanjske granice bez obzira na primijenjena sredstva? “Tvrdnje o zloporabama hrvatske policije daleko se ozbiljnije shvaćaju izvan Hrvatske. Povjerenica Vijeća Europe za ljudska prava, posebni izaslanik Vijeća Europe za migracije, Europski parlament i Europska komisija zatražili su od hrvatskih vlasti da istraže te tvrdnje i ustrajali na tome da Hrvatska mora nadzirati svoje granice u punoj suglasnosti s europskim zakonima.

      Europska komisija je također zatražila od hrvatskih vlasti da ojačaju trenutačno prilično neučinkovit nadzorni mehanizam nad svojim praksama na granici, što bi uključivalo neovisni nadzor nevladinih organizacija. No, istina je da su dužnosnici EU Hrvatskoj slali različite signale. Istovremeno su kritizirali dokumentirane nezakonitosti policije i hvalili vlasti za zaštitu vanjskih granica EU.

      Također, Europska komisija je u proteklih nekoliko godina Hrvatskoj dodijelila više od 100 milijuna eura, od čega je značajan dio namijenjen nadzoru i upravljanju granicom, uključujući financiranje plaća policijskih službenika, unatoč vjerodostojnim dokazima represivnih mjera koje koriste iste te snage. Osiguravajući sredstva te propuštajući da se hrvatske vlasti javno i odlučno prozovu zbog postupanja prema izbjeglicama i migrantima, EU je de facto odobrila takvo ponašanje”, kaže Jelena Sesar. Tražili smo od MUP-a očitovanje o našim saznanjima, no nismo dobili odgovor.

      https://www.telegram.hr/price/prvi-intervju-u-kojem-hrvatski-policajac-tvrdi-sefovi-nam-nareduju-da-ilega

      –------------------

      Reçu via la newsletter Inicijativa Dobrodosli, le 29.07.2019, avec ce commentaire:

      The new testimony of the policeman within which he describes the practice of pushbacks confirms countless testimonies of refugees who claimed that pushbacks are implemented even from the depths of the territory of the Republic of Croatia. In this text, written by Barbara Matejčić, you can read about methods and internal procedures that the policeman describes, and given the fact that he is already the second policeman who spoke about illegal, inhuman and immoral procedures that they have been seeking to do. It will be interesting to see what will be the next step taken by Minister Božinović, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Government of the Republic of Croatia. Until the writing of this report, five days after the publication, we did not receive any response from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

      Et en plus:

      You can read about anonymous testimonies and the work of the State Attorney of the Republic of Croatia and the Parliamentary Committee on Internal Affairs as well as other events that followed the theme of pushbacks and violence at the border in a new interview with the Croatian Ombudswoman, Lora Vidović (https://www.jutarnji.hr/vijesti/hrvatska/pucka-pravobraniteljica-u-velikom-intervjuu-za-jutarnji-stat-cu-iza-svakog-policajca-koji-odluci-progovoriti-o-nasilju-nad-migrantima/9157892). You can also take a look at the TV report on police violence and refugee testimonies at the SRF (https://www.srf.ch/news/international/migration-auf-der-balkanroute-asyl-tuersteher-fuer-die-schweiz).

      Minister Božinović in his reaction that came a week later after the anonymous complaint of the policeman got published failed to address the content of the complaint. Additionally, following concerns show that state institutions did not approach seriously to these problems and that are no sufficient efforts to stop these practices and properly sanction them: the information that the Parliamentary Committee on Internal Affairs and National Security revealed the details of the above mentioned anonymous complaint to the Ministry of Internal Affairs as well as the fact of the insufficient capacity of the State Attorney of the Republic of Croatia to conduct an investigation within the Ministry of Internal Affairs without using the capacities of MoI.

      This week we could read numerous comments about the latest statement of the President in which she tried to explain what she meant when she addressed pushbacks and her admitting that they are carried out at the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. While trying to justify illegal pushbacks, the President, strengthened the narrative of refugees as threats and instructed journalists to work in official propaganda service. In connection to this, we are sharing comments of Ladislav Tomčić (www.novilist.hr/Komentari/Kolumne/Ladovina-Ladislava-Tomicica/LADISLAV-TOMICIC-Spomenar-Kolinde-Grabar-Kitarovic), Boris Pavelić (novilist.hr/Komentari/Kolumne/Pronadena-zemlja-Borisa-Pavelica/Kuscevic-Maric-Zalac-A-Bozinovic-Trebao-je-prvi-otici), Slavica Lukić (https://www.jutarnji.hr/komentari/opasne-poruke-predsjednice-grabar-kitarovic/9138125), and Gordan Duhaček (https://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/eu-koristi-hrvatsku-za-obavljanje-prljavog-posla-s-migrantima/2103291.aspx).

    • Asyl-Türsteher für die Schweiz

      Mit umstrittenen Methoden weist Kroatien Asylsuchende ab. Die Schweiz profitiert. Welche Verantwortung hat die Politik?

      Der junge Afghane taucht mit einer Gruppe anderer junger Männer aus dem Niemandsland zwischen Kroatien und Bosnien auf. Den Migranten war es gelungen, bei Velika Kladuša über die grüne Grenze in die EU zu kommen. Nach sechs Tagen Fussmarsch wurden sie kurz vor dem Übergang nach Slowenien entdeckt: «Männer mit Masken übers ganze Gesicht haben uns weggeschleppt. An der Grenze haben sie mich geschlagen.» Offenbar haben ihn kroatische Polizisten zusammen mit seinen Kollegen ohne Verfahren über die EU-Aussengrenze ausgeschafft. Nach internationalem Recht wäre dies ein illegaler «push back».
      Fragen an den Bundesrat

      Derweil sinken in der Schweiz die Asylzahlen. Der Bund prüft gar den Verzicht auf einzelne Asylzentren. Auch im Wahlherbst dürften die Themen Asyl und Migration kaum eine Rolle spielen. Die Türsteher an der EU-Aussengrenzen erledigen ihren Job effektiv – auch im Interessen der Schweiz. So stellt sich die Frage: Welche Verantwortung trägt die Schweizer Politik für den Umgang mit Migranten und Flüchtlingen vor den Toren der europäischen Wohlstandszone?

      SP-Nationalrätin Samira Marti hat Fragen: «Ich will vom Bundesrat wissen, ob Flüchtlinge in Kroatien Zugang zum Rechtssystem und zum Asylverfahren haben. Es handelt sich schliesslich nicht einfach um eine Staatsgrenze, sondern um eine europäische Aussengrenze.» Der Bundesrat wird die Interpellation voraussichtlich im Herbst beantworten. Bis dann hält sich die Verwaltung mit öffentlichen Auftritten zum Thema zurück.

      «Push backs» auf Befehl

      Trotzdem gibt es indirekt eine Antwort: In einem Brief an ein Basler Bürgerforum von Ende Juni 2019 hält die zuständige EJPD-Chefin Karin Keller-Sutter fest: «Die Schweiz setzt sich (…) mit Nachdruck dafür ein, dass ein effektiver Grenzschutz nicht zu Lasten der internationalen und europäischen Menschenrechtsnormen gehen darf.» Schengen-Kandidat Kroatien betone, dass er sich an die geltenden Normen und Gesetze halte.

      Unterdessen sind in Kroatien mögliche Beweise aufgetaucht, dass illegale «push backs» durchaus System haben könnten: Ein Mann, der angeblich für die Polizei arbeitet, schreibt an die Ombudsfrau für Menschenrechte, dass es klare Befehle gebe, «die Flüchtlinge gewaltsam nach Bosnien zurückzuschicken». Die kroatische Polizeigewerkschaft HSP bestreitet die Echtheit des Briefs. Ihr Präsident Dubravko Jagić sagt zu SRF: «Wie soll die Polizei das Gesetz umsetzen, wenn sie nicht selbst dem Gesetz folgt.»

      8500 Asylsuchende allein in Bosnien

      In den nächsten Tagen erscheint allerdings auf dem Newsportal Telegram eine Recherche der renommierten Journalistin Barbara Matejčić. Sie hat einen kroatischen Polizisten interviewt, der bestätigt, dass die illegalen «push backs» von Migranten über die Befehlskette befohlen werden: «Wir führten sie ins Grenzgebiet. Dort wurden sie angewiesen, nach Bosnien oder Serbien zurückzukehren. Ohne Registrierung oder Asylantrag. Dies waren die Befehle unserer Vorgesetzten.»

      Während in Kroatien der Widerstand gegen das Vorgehen der Polizei wächst, warten in Bosnien nach Schätzungen des UNHCR rund 8500 Asylsuchende darauf, ihr Glück in der europäischen Wohlstandszone zu suchen. Dazu gehört auch die Schweiz. Das Staatsekretariat für Migration (SEM) bemüht sich, die Not vor Ort zu lindern und ist dabei, zusammen mit einer lokalen Organisation die Trinkwasseraufbereitung sicherzustellen. Auch wenn die Schweiz offiziell ihr Handeln auf die EU abstimmt: Als unabhängiger Kleinstaat kann sie ihre Chance nutzen, selbständig zu agieren.

      https://www.srf.ch/news/international/migration-auf-der-balkanroute-asyl-tuersteher-fuer-die-schweiz

      L’adresse URL de la vidéo:
      https://www.srf.ch/play/tv/rundschau/video/pruegel-an-der-eu-grenze-wie-kroatien-migranten-abschiebt?id=972c5996-ec49-4079-

    • Reçu via la newsletter Inicijativa Dobrodosli, le 12.08.2019:

      The accusations against the Croatian police and their execution of violent pushbacks continue. The Mayor of Bihac reiterated that Croatian police conducts violent pushbacks and is illegally entering the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina (https://m.vecernji.hr/vijesti/eurozastupnik-podupire-bih-sram-me-je-hrvatska-granicna-policija-se-ne-sm). The Greens - European Free Alliance MEP Eric Marquardt, condemned the execution of illegal pushbacks by Croatian police (https://m.vecernji.hr/vijesti/eurozastupnik-podupire-bih-sram-me-je-hrvatska-granicna-policija-se-ne-sm), saying that “the European Border Police act as a criminal gang robbing and beating people and illegally returning them to BiH from Croatia.” Another accusation (https://www.oslobodjenje.ba/vijesti/bih/potvrdeno-za-oslobodenje-povrijedeno-18-migranata-gpbih-ih-skupljala-uz in the series of testimonies arrived on Wednesday when Migrant Coordinator for the Municipality of Velika Kladuša Jasmin Čehić confirmed that a total of 18 injured refugees were brought to the Velika Kladuša Health Center. Border police found refugees beaten up at various locations along the border, and refugees later said in their statements that they had entered Croatian territory when they were intercepted by Croatian police, beaten up, the police seized their money, put them in a van and transferred to the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In their statement (http://hr.n1info.com/Vijesti/a425120/MUP-kaze-da-nisu-tukli-migrante-samo-su-ih-odvratili-od-prelaska-granice.), the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Croatia again rejected the conduct of violent pushbacks, stating that Croatian police intercepted the refugees as they crossed the border and that they were deterred from doing so without force. However, the content of a statement from the Interior Ministry was challenged by a local man from #Kladuša (http://hr.n1info.com/Vijesti/a425170/Mjestanin-Velike-Kladuse-kaze-da-je-vidio-2-kombija-iz-kojih-su-izasli-mi), who told reporters that he witnessed the arrival of two Croatian police vans and the expulsion of refugees into the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is beyond dispute that the Ministry of the Interior systematically ignores the numerous testimonies of refugees about violence at the borders. Numerous foreign media such as the Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/16/croatian-police-use-violence-to-push-back-migrants-says-president and the BBC (https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-europe-49132735/beaten-and-robbed-how-croatia-is-policing-its-borders published the stories about illegal pushbacks. This week the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel (https://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/potresna-reportaza-iz-bih-hrvatski-policajci-su-se-smijali-dok-su-nas-tukli/2107078.aspx), published testimonies from refugees stating that Croatian police officers laughed while kicking them on the body and face, confiscating their cell phones and money and burning their personal belongings.

    • This week Croatia received from the European Commission the green light to enter the Schengen area (https://www.vecernji.hr/vijesti/europska-komisija-upravo-donijela-odluku-hrvatska-je-ispunila-uvjete-za-sch. The confirmation of the fulfillment of the requirements comes some months after the end of the European independent experts’ inspection who assessed that Croatia meets Schengen standards. Both the above-mentioned inspection and the Commission paid particular attention to the sphere of management and protection of the external borders, and especially to the control of the one with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The European Commission’s report states how Croatia needs to invest in the procurement of new technical equipment and training of special dogs that would support the border protection. The day after the European Commission’s positive decision, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Commissioner for Migration, Internal Affairs, and Citizenship, visited Zagreb and emphasized how “Croatia has to maintain a high level of control of its external borders and especially with Bosnia and Herzegovina” (https://www.slobodnaevropa.org/a/30232391.html.

      While EU officials, together with Croatian Government representatives, celebrate the European Commission’s approval for the admission to the Schengen area, civil society organisations at national and international level warn that Croatia cannot become a member of the Schengen area as long as it violates both human rights and the Schengen acquis (https://www.ecre.org/editorial-croatias-schengen-accession-reinforcing-legal-red-lines-not-borders). The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) warned that the continuous practice of push-backs conducted by Croatian police officers at the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina represents a violation of Article 4 of the Schengen Borders Code. Welcome Initiative, together with the Border Violence Monitoring Network, the Centre for Peace Studies, Are you Syrious?, Rigardu, Mobile Info Team, Re:ports Sarajevo, the Asylum Protection Centre, and Refugee Aid Serbia, published a statement regarding the approval of the European Commission for Croatian entrance to the Schengen area. The statement highlights that “Croatia’s membership to the Schengen area should have been put on hold until the Government of the Croatian Republic does not stop the violent #push-backs” (https://www.cms.hr/hr/azil-i-integracijske-politike/hrvatska-ne-smije-uci-u-schengen-dok-krsi-ljudska-prava). In an interview for Faktograf (https://faktograf.hr/2019/10/23/zeleno-svjetlo-za-ulazak-hrvatske-u-schengen-ima-svoju-mracnu-stranu, the representative of the Centre for Peace Studies claimed that it is impossible that EU institutions do not know what is happening at the borders with Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially when not only many national and international organisations but also institutions such as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants (https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25088&LangID=E) and the Commissioner of Human Rights of the Council of Europe (https://rm.coe.int/09000016808d7db3) warned about violent push-backs. Paradoxically, the European Commission confirms in its report that the violence against refugees at the borders is acknowledged, and at the same time, it makes certain decisions that tacitly support these practices. If the European Union really wanted to dissociate itself from the policies which rely on beating the people who are in a search of safety, then it would have already taken some steps to urge the Croatian Government to take the necessary measures and to prevent daily violence.

      Reçu via la newsletter Inicijativa Dobrodosli, le 29.10.2019.

      Mise en évidence de ce passage :

      The European Commission’s report states how Croatia needs to invest in the procurement of new technical equipment and training of special dogs that would support the border protection.

      –-> #chiens #militarisation_des_frontières #technologie #protection_des_frontières #frontières_extérieures #refoulements

      #Schengen #adhésion #espace_Schengen #violence

      –-------------

      voir aussi en français :

      Adhésion à Schengen : la Croatie en bonne voie pour intégrer l’espace Schengen

      La Commission rend compte aujourd’hui des progrès accomplis par la Croatie en vue de satisfaire aux conditions nécessaires pour intégrer l’espace Schengen. La Commission européenne considère que, sur la base des résultats du processus d’évaluation Schengen lancé en 2016, la Croatie a pris les mesures requises pour que les conditions nécessaires à l’application intégrale des règles et normes Schengen soient remplies. La Croatie devra continuer à mettre en œuvre toutes les actions en cours, notamment en ce qui concerne la gestion des frontières extérieures, pour faire en sorte que les conditions précitées continuent d’être remplies. La Commission confirme également que la Croatie continue de remplir les engagements liés aux règles Schengen qu’elle a pris dans le cadre des négociations d’adhésion.

      https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/fr/IP_19_6140

    • Cette histoire est d’une telle violence ! Je ne sais pas, c’est totalement indescriptible… Même le droit ultime d’enterrer dignement ses morts, on ne peut pas l’avoir quand on est migrant ? « Like a dog » effectivement.

    • «Care #Divany e #Medina, scusateci»

      Avevano 3 e 6 anni, sono morte rispettivamente il 6 e il 21 novembre nel mar Mediterraneo e sulla ferrovia alla frontiera tra Croazia e Serbia. La mamma di Divany la ricorda a Scicli con una corona di fiori, i genitori di Medina non si danno pace. Attorno a loro volontari e operatori che condividono il dolore e denunciano la disumanità delle frontiere chiuse: ecco la lettera-monito di Silvia Maraone di Ipsia che era con la bimba afgana pochi giorni prima della tragedia

      http://www.vita.it/it/article/2017/12/12/care-divany-e-medina-scusateci/145422

    • Morire di Europa a sei anni.

      Numeri.

      L’altra sera mi trovavo a Milano e leggevo i numeri delle migrazioni negli ultimi quattro anni. Oltre ai diversi ingressi registrati, c’è un’altra statistica che viene citata poco. Il numero delle persone morte nel tentativo di arrivare da noi, in Europa. Sono stime, perchè di tante persone non conosceremo mai veramente il destino. Chi annega in mare e viene sommerso dai flutti. Chi muore di sete e di caldo nel deserto e sparisce ingoiato dalla sabbia rovente. Chi congela nei fiumi e tra le montagne dei Balcani e viene divorato dagli animali selvatici. Sono in media quattromila all’anno le persone che spariscono così. Seppellite in fosse comuni, lontane dalle proprie famiglie e dalle proprie case. Noi li vediamo come una massa indistinta, fatta di numeri. E non ci sconvolge.

      Viviamo tra i morti, nuotiamo tra i cadaveri nel Mediterraneo. E non ci pensiamo, se non quando magari una foto più di un’altra non ci colpisce. Ci fu il caso di Aylan nel 2015, con la sua maglietta rossa, riverso a faccia in giù sulla riva del mare, che ci fece trattenere per un attimo il fiato e che spalancò di colpo le porte del sogno EU a quasi un milione di persone. Dopodichè, quel quasi milione di persone divenne troppo da gestire e firmammo un accordo a Marzo 2016, per chiudere la rotta balcanica, lasciando quasi 80.000 persone ferme tra la Grecia, la Macedonia e la Serbia.

      Di loro, dei quasi settemila bloccati in Serbia, la maggioranza Afghani, ci siamo dimenticati in fretta. Sono stati sistemati tutti quanti nei 18 campi profughi aperti dal governo con il finanziamento dell’UE. I siriani sono rimasti in Grecia, prima o poi verranno ricollocati. E quasi quattro milioni sono in Turchia, bloccati dopo l’accordo di cui sopra.

      In questi mesi, da Maggio, quando sono arrivata in Serbia, ho conosciuto diverse centinaia di persone. Famiglie sopratutto, ragazzi, uomini. Sono in viaggio da due anni, per lo più. Hanno già conosciuto la durezza del cammino, la paura dell’acqua, il dolore dei colpi dati dal manganello. Uomini, donne, bambini.

      Quando ho cominciato a fare volontariato vent’anni fa nei campi profughi in Slovenia, erano sopratutto loro, i bambini, l’energia in più che faceva sembrare meno brutta la vita in quel limbo. Con loro era facile dimenticare dove ti trovavi, la durezza e la noia della vita nel campo, l’incertezza del futuro. Quei pensieri consumavano e consumano sopratutto gli adulti, coloro che sanno quanti soldi hanno già speso e quanto ancora devono indebitarsi per andare avanti nel game. Quanto costerà provare ad attraversare la Croazia o l’Ungheria con i trafficanti.

      Negli ultimi mesi molti hanno cominciato a tentare di attraversare i boschi tra la Serbia e la Croazia da soli, con le mappe di Google. L’Ungheria è più difficile da attraversare, lì il confine è più sorvegliato, ci sono fili spinati doppi con lame di rasoio in cima, ci sono i cani, ci sono i sensori di rilevamento termico e le telecamere a infrarossi. E poi ci sono i manganelli, gli ungheresi prima di cacciarti ti pestano, così forse non proverai più la prossima volta. E’ così che rimandano in Serbia brandelli di umanità, feriti nello spirito e nel corpo. La Croazia invece da quest’estate sembrava più porosa, sembrava quasi si riuscisse a passare e poi se proprio non si riusciva ad andare più in là, verso Austria o Ungheria, si poteva chiedere l’asilo. Non sarà Shengen, ma è pur sempre EU.

      Da novembre, osserviamo impotenti i tentativi che le persone fanno di andare di là, a Nord dalle parti di Šid. Dal nostro campo decine di persone sono partite e le abbiamo viste ritornare.

      Una di queste famiglie non è tornata intera. Avevano lasciato il nostro campo ad Agosto e passato un paio di mesi tra Tutin e Belgrado, fino a quando non hanno provato ad attraversare il confine.

      Di Madina ricordo che aveva gli occhi grandi, i capelli neri e folti, uno sguardo vispo e un sorriso furbo. Era piccolina e si confondeva in mezzo ai suoi fratelli e sorelle. Una mattina di Maggio, ero da poco arrivata in Serbia, arrivo al campo e sento i bambini che urlano e corrono verso di me: “cats, cats”! Madina mi prende per mano e mi porta a un grande vaso in cemento, dentro il quale ci sono due gattini neri di meno di un mese, terrorizzati. I bambini sono eccitati e contenti, giocano coi gatti, senza pensare a quanto siano spaventati. Prendo i gatti, li metto in una scatola e li porto in auto. I gatti, avranno molta più fortuna dei profughi bloccati da anni nel limbo migratorio, loro sono a Milano e vivono pasciuti e felici in una bella famiglia, con documento di identità e regolarmente registrati in Comune.

      Madina era così, curiosa, sorridente, chiacchierona. Anche se non parlava così bene inglese riusciva a farsi capire e ti saltellava intorno.

      Mi immagino come sia stato faticoso per lei, con le sue gambette corte, attraversare la “jungle” tra la Serbia e la Croazia, di notte, tra i fili spinati e le pattuglie della polizia, senza probabilmente capire cosa stava succedendo. Così come non avrà capito cosa è successo, quanto un treno l’ha travolta, uccidendola e lasciando il suo corpo insanguinato al buio, vicino ai binari, mentre gli altri della sua famiglia cercavano di capire al buio dove fosse finita la piccola. L’ha trovata Rashid, suo fratello. Un ragazzo alto e gentile, taciturno, sempre disponibile e attento ai piccoli della famiglia. Mi immagino le urla di Nilab, la sorella maggiore con cui giocavo a pallavolo e con cui parlavamo dei sogni di arrivare in Europa e poter vivere liberamente, in Germania.

      La versione ufficiale della polizia croata è che abbiano assistito con i visori infrarossi ai movimenti di un gruppo di persone lungo la ferrovia, dal lato serbo del confine e di come sia passato il treno, a seguito di questo parte del gruppo è andata di corsa verso le pattuglie portando in braccio il corpo di una bambina. La polizia afferma che stavano compiendo i loro compiti routinari di difesa delle frontiere, così come previsto dalle leggi del’UE, applicando i respingimenti forzati.

      La versione della famiglia, supportata da organizzazioni umanitarie (tra cui MSF) e gruppi di attivisti e volontari è che la famiglia avesse invece già raggiunto la Croazia e che sia stata respinta verso la Serbia, ricevendo come indicazioni di seguire la ferrovia, senza essere avvisati del potenziale pericolo del passaggio dei treni anche di notte e rifiutando la richiesta della madre stremata che chiedeva solo di poter riposare un po’ con i figli, stanchi, affamati e infreddoliti. Oltre a questo, in nessun modo la famiglia ha avuto alcun aiuto da parte né dei croati, né tantomeno dei serbi, che per alcuni giorni non hanno nemmeno dato il corpo alla famiglia e hanno loro imposto un funerale senza rispettare le usanze musulmane. E’ così che la piccola Madina ora si trova sepolta a pochi chilometri dal luogo in cui è stata uccisa, lontana dalla sua casa, dalla sua famiglia. Era la notte tra il 20 e il 21 Novembre.

      Questa notizia all’inizio era passata in silenzio, diffusa tra i social, twittata da alcuni organizzazioni, sino a quando Al Jazeera non l’ha ripresa, seguita dal Guardian e anche dal nostro Corsera. Le parole di Nilab, che Madina non venga dimenticata, sono state ascoltate.

      E noi, cosa possiamo fare? Come si può restare indifferenti alla morte di Madina e delle migliaia di innocenti che cercano solamente un futuro migliore, mettendo in gioco tutto ciò che hanno, cioè la loro vita?

      Io li vedo questi confini insaguinati e queste vite miserabili. Ero in Croazia il giorno dopo che Madina era morta, lungo la strada che passa dietro il confine. Ho visto le pattuglie, i cani, la caccia all’uomo. Ho visto la polizia croata. E ho visto la polizia ungherese e la caccia all’uomo da quella parte del confine. Ho visto il filo spinato, ho respirato la paura, il buio e il freddo. Ho visto i fuocherelli accesi nella notte da chi parte per il game, le immondizie abbandonate dietro di sé, le scarpe spaiate, le coperte grigie dell’UNHCR. Ho sentito i racconti di bambini di sei-sette anni, di come dopo aver camminato per tanti chilometri non riuscivano più a fare un passo e si addormentavano ogni volta che si dovevano abbassare per sfuggire alle vedette. Mi hanno parlato del freddo, della sete, della fame. Della paura.

      E no, bambini, non è questo il game. Non è giusto che il gioco sia questo. Io ho avuto fortuna, sono stata una bambina amata e cresciuta in una grande città, dove andavo a scuola, giocavo coi compagni, ho fatto gli scout, sport e volontariato. Dopo la Slovenia, sono stata in Bosnia e in Kosovo e ora qua in Serbia, e provo a portare sorrisi e giocare, a dimenticare, a ricordare che siete solo bambini e che avete diritto alla felicità e alla spensieratezza, ad andare a scuola, avere vestiti caldi e puliti, pupazzi e giocattoli, dei nonni che vi coccolino e vi vizino, dei genitori che si preoccupino per voi.

      E no, non posso dimenticare Madina, non posso dimenticare il suo entusiasmo per i gattini, il modo in cui ballava “tutte le scimmiette in fila per sette”. Non posso dimenticare lei, la sua famiglia e tutte le persone incontrate in questi anni di Balkan route, accampate a Idomeni, a Hotel Hara, a Eko station, al campo profughi di Sounio, a Helliniko, a Horgos e Kelebija, nelle barracks di Belgrado, nell’Afghan park e il modo in cui nonostante tutto, i bambini riescano a giocare. Non posso.

      E se vi chiedete come si fa, non lo so nemmeno io come si fa, so solo che quando vedo mia nipote Anna che ha 4 anni e dei ricci bellissimi e le ho appena regalato un pigiama con Elsa di Frozen, penso solo che lei è fortunata e le auguro che la vita non le dia mai quello che sta dando a queste migliaia di Madina in giro per il mondo alla ricerca di fortuna.

      Tra poco è Natale, spenderemo un sacco di soldi per cibo, regali, luminarie e decorazioni.
      Qualcosa lo potete fare anche voi. Ricordatevi di Madina e di quelli che stanno ancora facendo il game.

      Potete fare un regalo ai bambini di Bogovadja. Non sono giocattoli, non sono dolci e caramelle, sono scarpe e vestiti per l’inverno, dignitosi e caldi, che forse gli serviranno quando dovranno attraversare i boschi al confine.
      http://www.caritasambrosiana.it/emergenze-caritas/emergenze-in-corso/emergenza-freddo-bogavadja

      Ciao, Madina.


      https://nellaterradeicevapi.wordpress.com/2017/12/09/morire-di-europa-a-sei-anni

    • Odvjetnica obitelji #Madine: “Policija me zastrašivala, nisam to nikad doživjela”

      NJEMAČKA javna televizija ARD sinoć je emitirala 45-minutni dokumentarac “Smrt na balkanskoj ruti” koji se bavi smrtnim slučajevima migranata i izbjeglica koji pokušavaju preko područja bivše Jugoslavije doći do Europske unije od 2015. do danas. Dio dokumentarca je posvećen ponašanju hrvatske policije prema migrantima, naročito u slučaju afganistanske djevojčice Madine.

      U ARD-ovom dokumentarcu se hrvatsku policiju optužuje da na granici provodi tzv. push back, tj. ilegalno vraćanje migranata u državu iz koje su ušli, a da im se ne omogućuje traženje azila, što je protiv važećih pravnih propisa Europske unije i Hrvatske. No ističe se i licemjerje njemačkih vlasti koje tvrde da nemaju nikakvih dokaza o takvom postupanju hrvatske policije, iako su “već stotine takvih slučajeva dokumentirane”, navodi se u dokumentarcu. Tj. jasno se kaže da hrvatska policija uz prešutno odobravanje službenog Berlina krši važeće zakone i onemogućava migrantima konzumiranje njihovih ljudskih prava.

      Ilegalna politika “push backa” migranata

      U dokumentarcu su razgovarali i sa SDP-ovim bivšim ministrom unutarnjih poslova Rankom Ostojićem koji kaže da je “push back” postao neslužbena politika EU-a prema migrantima.

      Detaljno se obrađuje i smrt male Madine koja je poginula nakon što su hrvatski policajci na granici Hrvatske i Srbije uhvatili njenu obitelj u ilegalnom prelasku te ih vratili u Srbiju po željezničkoj pruzi unatoč tome što je Madinina majka zatražila azil. Madinu je onda udario vlak, a hrvatska policija je djevojčicu odvela u bolnicu u Hrvatskoj, dok njenoj majci nije dozvolila da ide s njom, nego ju je protjerala opet prema Šidu na srbijanskoj strani granice.

      Odvjetnica Madinine obitelji: “Nešto tako nisam doživjela u svojoj karijeri”

      Odvjetnica Madinine obitelji Sanja Jelavić u dokumentarcu ARD-a svjedoči o tome kako je hrvatska policija dolazila u njen ured i pokušala je zastrašiti, kao i da joj nisu dozvoljavali da kontaktira svoje klijente. “Nešto tako nisam još doživjela u svojoj karijeri”, kaže Jelavić te dodaje da je to ipak nije pokolebalo u zastupanju klijenata.

      Pučka pravobraniteljica pak proziva hrvatsku policiju zbog toga što je misteriozno nestala toplotna snimka protjerivanja Madinine obitelji u Srbiju te ističe da postoje toplotne snimke tog dana i prije i poslije tog incidenta. Ni sama ne vjeruje u službeno objašnjenje hrvatske policije da je baš u tom periodu “nestalo struje”, no još više zabrinjava činjenica da nestanak snimke sugerira kako policija zapravo uništava dokaze o vlastitom kršenju zakona.

      Novinari ARD-a uspjeli su nakratko o svemu tome pitati i premijera Andreja Plenkovića koji je Madininu smrt opisao kao nesretan slučaj, no na detaljnija pitanja nije htio odgovarati, ustvrdivši da hrvatska policija sve radi po zakonu.


      https://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/odvjetnica-obitelji-madine-policija-me-zastrasivala-nisam-to-nikad-dozivjela/2073807.aspx

    • Two years ago, because of the violence and the illegal actions of Croatian police officers, a young Afghan girl lost her life: her name was Madina, and she died hit by a train after being pushed back during a cold night of November 2017. A date that activists in the region remember with great sadness and concern. Welcome! Initiative decided to commemorate this date remembering Madina and the square that was named like her one year ago - on our facebook event you can see how several people took some time to remember Madina and her family, by taking pictures with the panel writing the real name of that square: Trg Madina Hussiny (https://www.facebook.com/events/2425274427693693). “the square with her name as a lasting reminder that no one and no nation-state, government, military force, economy or political regime has the right to determine whose life is worth living and who is not”. H-alter wrote more about today’s date in this article: https://www.h-alter.org/vijesti/pravda-za-madinu-hussiny-ldquomadina-dobrodosla-u-srediste-zagrebardquo

      Because of the work of several individuals, activists and organizations on the tragic event of Madina, and the decision of the family to file a legal complaint against Croatia to the European Court of Human Rights, a lot of measures of criminalization of solidarity and intimidation started, towards the same lawyers, individuals and organizations that supported the family in their request for justice. Today, Centre for Peace Studies and Are You Syrious talked about it at the European Parliament (https://www.greens-efa.eu/en/article/event/shrinking-spaces), bringing the Madina’s memory there and firmly asking the European politicians to do everything in their power to stop the violence at the borders and the human rights violations against refugees and whoever decides to support them.

      Reçu via Inicijativa Dobrodosli, mail du 27.11.2019.

    • Finally, justice for Madina!

      This week, The European Court of Human Rights has rejected Croatia’s request to reconsider the decision in the case of little Madina’s death. In fact last year, Croatia has been found guilty, and Madina Hussiny and her family were recognized by the European Court of Human Rights as victims of illegal expulsion by the Republic of Croatia, which resulted in the loss of Madina’s life, a six-year-old girl, on November 21, 2017. In addition, the judgment showed that the Republic of Croatia treated children inhumanely by keeping them in detention, illegally deprived the whole family of their liberty, collectively expelled part of the family from Croatia and, after all, denied them access to lawyer precisely with the aim of preventing this case from reaching the European Court of Human Rights. The verdict, which confirms that Croatia has violated her right to life, has become final. An effective investigation in this case was never conducted. Centre for Peace Studies in their press release (https://www.cms.hr/en/azil-i-integracijske-politike/presuda-esljp-a-u-slucaju-obitelji-hussiny-je-konacna-trazimo-hitnu-smjenu-vrha-) declared: “After this strong and final confirmation of the ruling, the Government of the Republic of Croatia and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković can no longer turn their heads, but must urgently dismiss those responsible, led by the Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović. In addition to urgently finding and sanctioning the direct perpetrators, we again demand the immediate dismissal of those with command and political responsibility, namely Chief of Police Nikola Milina and Chief of Border Police and Assistant Chief of Police Zoran Ničeno, as well as Secretary of State Terezija Gras who participated in pressures against human rights defenders and blocking the independent international investigations.”

      In this occasion, to permanently remember and never suppress the truth about the death of Madina Hussiny, several local initiatives together with Welcome! Initiative (Zagreb city-refuge, and Initiative for Madina Hussiny Square Naming), sent to the Committee for the Naming of Settlements, Streets and Squares a proposal for the name Madina Hussiny for inclusion in the Name Fund. Zagreb can and should have Madina Hussiny Square, for her and all the other lives lost because of racist border regimes.

      –-> via Inicijativa Dobrodosli (mailing-list du 08.04.2022)