The Council of Europe is hoping for a full investigation into allegations of police abuse of migrants in the country. In the picture, a migrant in Bosnia shows wounds allegedly caused by Croatian border police.
The Council of Europe is hoping for a full investigation into allegations of police abuse of migrants in the country. In the picture, a migrant in Bosnia shows wounds allegedly caused by Croatian border police.

The Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner demanded an investigation after reports of violence against migrants arose. The country's interior minister, however, says no such abuse exists.

In a letter to Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, the Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatovic said there should be an extensive investigation into allegations of police abuse on migrants in the country.

"Particularly worrisome are allegations of systemic violence used by Croatian law enforcement officials against those persons [migrants], including pregnant women and children," wrote Mijatovic in the letter in September.

The letter says that most of the 2,500 migrants who were expelled from Croatia experienced some form of mistreatment. Of those who were expelled, 1,500 were denied access to asylum procedures and 700 of them were victims of violence and theft at the hands of police officers during their expulsions. Mijatovic wrote that she was also worried about the high number of collective expulsions from the Council of Europe member to Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) came to the same conclusion as Mijatovic. MSF said while some migrants manage to go into Croatia, others were pushed back at the border, sometimes violently.

Authorities disagree

Croatian officials have denied any police abuse and left the country on their own free will.

"No cases of police coercion towards migrants…nor thefts were established," wrote Croatian Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic in response to Mijatovic, according to AFP.

Bozinovic added that Croatia has an "obligation to protect state border from illegal crossings." Croatia is attempting to become a part of the Schengen zone, which allows for visa-free travel between other countries in the agreement.

Bozinovic continued by saying Croatia granted asylum to 257 migrants so far this year, and most of those who were interested in applying for asylum, about 77 percent, left the country before filling out the necessary paperwork.

Croatia was an important stop on the Balkan Route which was used by hundreds of thousands of migrants in 2015 and 2016 before it was shut down. Some migrants have attempted to create a new route through the region, attempting to enter Croatia through Bosnia's mountainous terrain.

 

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