Bosnian officials: 18 migrants have been beaten and pushed across the border by Croatian police

Allegations have surfaced that Croatian police beat and violently pushed 18 irregular migrants back to Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to news agencies Radio Sarajevo and Bosnian news portal Klix.

The news reports said Bosnian patrol witnessed Croatian police leading a group of migrants to Bosnia near Velika Kladusa on 6 August 2019. The 18 irregular migrants, 14 from Pakistan and four from Iraq, were taken to a local hospital. Doctors said six of the irregular migrants appear to have serious injuries, on their hands, shoulders and legs.

Several of the irregular migrants told news agencies that Croatian police had beaten them, taken away their mobile phones and pushed them back across the border.

More than 40,000 irregular migrants have entered Bosnia since 2018, mostly with the aim of reaching western Europe.  In order to get there, they must pass Croatia or Serbia and Slovenia or Hungary. However, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia quickly shut its response to the influx, leaving thousands stranded in Bosnian cities like Bihac and Velika Kladusa.

Croatian police said they did not use force against the 18 migrants. In a statement, they said, “There were no visible injuries on these people nor did any of them ask for medical assistance.” Police added that  the Interior Ministry will investigate these allegations.

Croatian authorities have come under fire from human rights agencies over the past year for repeatedly beating, robbing and pushing migrants back to Bosnia. They have denied all allegations of violence and abuse.

“The denial of Croatia’s abusive border policies by Zagreb and EU institutions is no longer tenable,” said Lydia Gall, a senior researcher for Balkans and the Eastern EU at Human Rights Watch, in an interview with UK news agency The Guardian. “Hundreds, if not thousands, of migrants and asylum seekers have been ill-treated by Croatian border officials and deserve redress and justice.”

The Guardian report added that Croatia is keen to present itself as a strong partner and protector of the border, as it is looking to join the border-free Schengen zone.

TMP – 29/08/2019

Photo credit: Ajdin Kamber / Shutterstock.com

Photo caption: Velika Kladusa, BiH, 08 July 2018-Migrant showing broken smart phone with broken screen in refugee camp. Migrants complain of beatings and brutality by Croatian police.