“Go back to Serbia” – documentation of police violence May to July

As part of our efforts to document cases of police violence by Croatian police officers, we have put all testimonies, photos, and information known to us together into a single document. Included are all cases in the period from May 31st to July 13th.

As a response to an online article of the Croatian newspaper BalkanInsight [1], which was based on our information, the Croatian Ministry of Interior denied all accusations because of “missing evidences”. At the beginning of July, we therefore forwarded our documents to the responsible department. A response is outstanding until today.

We hereby want to make our anonymized documentation publicly accessible. On the one hand illegal pushbacks are taking place on the border of the European Union between Croatia and Serbia. On the other hand, Croatian police officers are employing massive violence against refugees. This is proved by our eye witnessed reports of refugees, as well as the detailed documentation of further cases by Are You Syrious? And the Welcome Initiative in co-operation with MSF [2]. Also UNHCR records an increase in pushbacks in its current Interagency Operational Update for May 2017 [3]. These are characterized by “disproportionate violence during group examinations” [4].

This conduct of officials of an EU member state is not merely a negative Croatian example. It is an all-European task to ensure respect for human rights at the European external borders.

* Pushbacks are defined as unlawful rejections of refugees without granting them the possibility of an asylum application. This constitutes a violation of EU law and the Geneva Refugee Convention, as the European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2012 in the so-called Hirsi judgment [2].

The full documentation is available here.

Written by Jakob, translated by Felix

References for further reading:

[1] http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/ngo-claims-croatian-police-continues-to-beat-refugees-06-27-2017
[2] http://welcome.cms.hr/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/REPORT-ON-THE-NEW-WAVE-OF-VIOLENCE-AGAINST-REFUGEES-ON-CROATIAN-BORDERS.pdf
[3] UNHCR Inter Agency Operational Update Serbia May 2017 https://data2.unhcr.org/en/documents/download/58266
[4] http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/56595.pdf
[5] http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-109231

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