Report by Valeria Morelli
A group of six people from Pakistan and Bangladesh were arrested by the Croatian police and taken to the nearest police station where they were detained for three days before being pushed back to Serbia.
The respondent is a 26-year-old man from Pakistan.
The respondent reports that at approximately 5 p.m. on Sunday 14th of May, a group of six people, two from Pakistan and four from Bangladesh, aged between 25 and 30, started to walk from Serbia towards the Croatian border. According to the respondent at around 2 a.m. on Monday morning near the highway between Lipovac and Podgrade (Croatia), the group was stopped by a Croatian police car and two people that they identified as police officers in civil clothing who were carrying pistols.
After 20 minutes another vehicle arrived on the scene, described by the respondent as a white van without windows, which can likely match the description of a vehicle for transportation of detainees used by the Croatian border police. Two people that the respondent described as male Croatian border police officers who were reportedly dressed in blue uniforms with a patch on the upper arm, confiscated the telephones of all the transit group members. Then, the group was forced to board the vehicle and was brought to the nearest police station. The respondent describes the journey time as approximately 10 minutes.
At the police station, which the respondent was not able to locate or identify, the men were brought to a room where they had to undress down to their underwear and were searched by four police men. The respondent explicitly asked to apply for asylum, which was denied by the officers.
According to the testimony, the group was not granted the right of contacting a lawyer for the whole period of their detention. None of the group members was notified about the purpose or length of their detention.
The group was transferred to a cell with two single beds and one bathroom. They received food twice a day. The respondent recalls one police officer who refused to give them food and water.
On Monday 15th of May, all the members of the transit group were reportedly taken one by one to an “examination room” and questioned about their journey from their home countries and about their stay in Serbia. The men had access to a translator speaking their native language for this interview. The respondent reported that, on the following day, all the group members were forced to sign a paper in Croatian language: they did not receive any copy and were unable to take a picture due to their phones being confiscated. According to the respondent, none of the group members was informed about the content of the document.
At around 10 am on Wednesday 17th of May, a Croatian police officer brought the group to the border post between Croatia and Serbia in a vehicle described by the respondent as a blue van. There, the group waited for one hour for the arrival of the Serbian police, described in a blue uniform and with a white car, who returned everyone’s personal belongings and released them near the town of Sid, Serbia.