In an interview with Swiss television SFR on July 9, Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović admitted the pushbacks of refugees and migrants are indeed taking place at the Croatian border. In the interview, she also stated they were not illegal while at the same time saying that police uses force during the pushbacks.Vidović received the letter in March and informed the State's Attorney Office of the Republic of Croatia immediately, requesting the implementation of an appropriate, effective and independent investigation. Due to the lack of feedback at the beginning of June, the complaint was brought to the attention of the Croatian Parliament, the President of the Croatian Parliament and the presidents of the relevant parliamentary committees
"I have spoken with the interior minister, the chief of police, and officers on the ground and they assured me they have not been using excessive force," said Grabar-Kitarović. "Of course, a little bit of force is needed when doing pushbacks", she added.
In a letter to the president Grabar-Kitarović, published after the interview, Human Rights Watch called on Croatian authorities to take immediate steps to put an end to unlawful and violent pushbacks and bring laws and practices in line with international refugee law and EU law.
Just last month, H-Alter published a letter from a hiker who witnessed police violence against migrants on Risnjak.
"When we got to the living room of the hut, I saw an automatic rifle on the table and two special forces officers talking to the home manager. Around 11 in the evening, migrants came. They were asking for water. The officers came out with batons and started to hit them, and one (or more) officers started shooting. In a situation where you have people who ask for water, and on the other side those who respond with gunfire and batons, with the approval of the majority of people present, you really have to wonder if you are in this situation on the side of the people or the beasts", the hiker wrote.
Now there are are new witnesses reporting police violence, and they are coming from the very Ministry of the Interior. In an anonymous letter sent to the Ombudswoman Lora Vidović, a policeman writes about the violent and illegal practices perpetrated at the border on refugees and migrants. The officer wanted to stay anonymous due to concerns about the safety of his family and his job.In an interview with Swiss television SFR on July 9, Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović admitted the pushbacks of refugees and migrants are indeed taking place at the Croatian border. In the interview, she also stated they were not illegal while at the same time saying that police uses force during the pushbacks
Vidović received the letter in March and informed the State's Attorney Office of the Republic of Croatia immediately, requesting the implementation of an appropriate, effective and independent investigation. Due to the lack of feedback at the beginning of June, the complaint was brought to the attention of the Croatian Parliament, the President of the Croatian Parliament and the presidents of the relevant parliamentary committees.
However, as neither of them has yet given feedback and no action was taken to investigate allegations of complaint, the only remaining institutional option for the Ombudswoman was to inform the public about the letter.
The letter sent to the Ombudswoman was translated by Petra Matić, and we publish it in its entirety.
We are asking for your help because we see that you are the only one taking care of the illegal practices towards refugees and distressed people, who we treat in a bad and inhumane way every day.
I am a worker of the police station ___ and I have been working on protection of the national border for a longer time. A few of us are screaming, we have no more will nor power to look at what is being done to these humans. Every day we return them to Bosnia, without papers, without processing, no matter whether they are women, children, we treat everyone the same.
There is no asylum, that doesn't exist, only and if in extraordinary situations, with media attention. Orders of the chief, the executive, and the administration is to return everyone without papers, no traces, take money, break mobile phones throw into _____, or take for ourselves, and forcefully return refugees to Bosnia.
This is the truth about how we treat them, the police that come as extra resource units from the other police stations are especially cruel, because they are angry for being here, and they stay here shortly so they do what they want to without control, they remind me of the Janissaries, beating and stealing. This is sad, but true, and with the blessings of the executives from the police station and administration.
We, a few policemen, are especially saddened by the fact that we are encouraged and ordered to do this by the executives who should be working legally, against these kind of practices and not allowing such behavior in the police.
Every day we return 20-50. When they are driven to here from the other police stations, people are exhausted, sometimes beaten up, and then it's us who drive them during the night and forcefully pushback to Bosnia.
All sorts of stuff happen here, some police draw weapons, this is shameful for this police, and not what I imagined when I went to school.
I personally returned around 1000 people during the night, I try to be as humane as possible, but I have _____, if I refuse to do this I will lose my job, and how will I feed my family.
The group of us who share these views are asking you to stop this behavior and practices in the police. All that is coming from you, media writings are correct, and very mild compared to what happens in this police station. Also it is very sad that the station executives, and especially in the police administration mention your name in a very rude and inappropriate way, because you do not deserve this, it is not suitable for highly educated people to receive such insults and names. You are only doing your job in a honorable and decent way, according to legal rules and regulations, and this is how police should work too, but unfortunately, we are far from that.
We ask you again to personally engage in stopping these bad practices that could lead to tragic consequences, and nobody wants that.
We believe in you, your fairness and legal work,
Disaffected police officers of police station _________