Croatian officials deny misconduct in police treatment of irregular migrants
No misconduct has yet been identified in the police treatment of irregular migrants in a mountain hut on Mount Risnjak, said Croatian Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic. In an inspection of the Grabovac border monitoring centre, Bozinovic told reporters that investigations were still ongoing, but no misconduct has been found.
“Croatian police have interviewed staff. Our reports do not confirm the events from the anonymous report on that day and place, and the police are very strict when it comes to complaints of official misconduct and such behavior is punished,” he said.
Croatian police came under fire after a mountaineer sent an open letter to the media, outlining abuse by authorities against irregular migrants. The mountaineer added that he/she had witnessed the abuse while on an expedition on Mount Risnjak.
In the letter, he/she said the zone is heavily patrolled by special police forces. When migrants reach the Alpine shelter requesting for food and water, he/she said they were forced to lie on the ground and kicked.
“When some of the migrants tried to escape, police began to shoot over their heads. Out of fear, one of the migrants fell in a very steep area and had several bones broken,” he/she said.
The mountaineer is not the first to raise concerns about migrant abuse in Croatia. International humanitarian organisations, local organisations and the media have all accused the Croatian police of abuse and violence of migrants, including pushing them back across the border to Bosnia.
Croatia, which joined the European Union (EU) bloc in 2013, has tightened security measures along its border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. By contrast, Bosnia is not part of the EU. At present, more than 5,000 irregular migrants are reported to be living or transiting through the Bosnia, most en route to western Europe.
Under the Dublin regulation, asylum seekers must submit their asylum application in the first safe EU country they arrive in. This applies to all asylum seekers entering Croatia. If their application is approved, they will be assigned an EU country to live in.
TMP – 12/07/2019
Photo credit: Ajdin Kamber / Shutterstock.com
Photo caption: A camp for irregular migrants in Bihac, Bosnia. Thousands of irregular migrants are living along the border between Bosnia and Croatia, most hoping to get to western Europe.