And while European authorities ask those in Croatia to investigate the reports on alleged torture of migrants in that country and to sanction the police officers involved, Croatia is denying the accusations. Despite the testimonies of numerous migrants.
“They are torturing us, keeping us without food for five days. It’s like a prison. A small room with 20 people inside. They provided nothing, no bed, no food, no blanket. Look at my feet, they’re forcing us to run barefoot. Some people here gave us shoes,” a Pakistani migrant told N1’s reporter.
Their dream to go to Italy has faded.
“I’m not going to Italy, I’m going back to Greece. I’m going back to Pakistan,” said one of the migrants.
According to their testimonies, every attempt to cross the border with Croatia ends in the same way: They get caught by Croatian border officers, get beaten – mostly with batons. Police also take their mobile phones, money, other belongings, get their clothes off, put them in vans and send back to Bosnia. “Where we start walking barefoot,” said the migrants.
“They mostly beat us with some black batons, but they also have dogs, unleashing them to go after us. That’s how one of my friends got injured. He was bitten by a dog,” a migrant added
Asked if Bosnian police could see all that, the migrants say there were no Bosnian police officers on the borders.
A minor in the group of Pakistani migrants showed the bruises on his legs, claiming the injuries were caused by the police batons.
“They came across as we walked, and they told us to sit down. We were not talking, we didn’t try running away. Then they told us to take our clothes off and started beating us. They were throwing us on each other, punching us,” he said.
Migrant testimonies were reported also by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC). The organisation’s chief in Bosnia and Herzegovina Nicola Bay told N1 that DRC teams recorded over 170 extremely violent pushback cases fro Croatia, with migrants reporting visible injuries allegedly caused by Croatian police.
Besides physical torture, some of the migrants even reported sexual abuse, said Bay.
He warned that the situation in Bosnia’s northwestern Una-Sana Canton (USC), which borders Croatia, is rather critical.
According to him, over 3,000 migrants in that area do not have access to shelters and are sleeping in abandoned buildings or improvised tent camps in the woods.
But, the migrants say the local police in this part of Bosnia is no longer allowing them to stay in those buildings or in public outdoor areas. The Bira camp, which local authorities closed down on September 30, will not be reopened, said Bihac Mayor Suhret Fazlic.
Many migrants say they regret ever coming to Bosnia and Herzegovina, adding that this was their worst experience. They plan to return to Serbia, whose camps, according to them, are much better and the situation more favourable.