Croatian border policemen at the Maljevac border crossing with Bosnia and Herzegovina | Photo: EPA/Fehim Demir
Croatian border policemen at the Maljevac border crossing with Bosnia and Herzegovina | Photo: EPA/Fehim Demir

A series of brutal pushbacks took place on the Bosnian-Croatian border last week, including a case of sexual assault, according to the Danish Refugee Council. Dozens of asylum seekers were allegedly victimized.

Migrants using the Balkan route towards Western Europe were allegedly beaten, robbed and sexually assaulted by Croatian police last week.

A series of pushbacks happened on the border between Croatia and Bosnia between October 12 and 16, according to British daily The Guardian, which cited a report by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC).

The Guardian obtained photographs, medical reports, and other evidence supporting testimonies by migrants, which humanitarian aid workers called "sickening."

Dozens of migrants suffered violence

"More than 75 persons in one week have all independently reported inhumane treatment, savage beatings and even sexual abuse," DRC's Charlotte Slente told the British newspaper.

The asylum seekers told the DRC that the pushbacks had occurred in Croatian territory, after they had crossed the Bosnian border near Velika Kladuša, close to Šiljkovača, where migrants and refugees have set up a tent camp in a forest; roughly 700 people live there, hoping to cross into the EU.

"All of the persons interviewed by DRC bore visible injuries from beatings (bruises and cuts), as a result of alleged Croatian police violence," according to the DRC report.

One Afghan man told the DRC that he had been sexually assaulted by a man using a branch during a pushback.

Many pushback accusations

The Croatian interior ministry has said that it has opened an investigation into the accusations, saying that it was in its interest punish anyone not complying with regulations.

For the past three years, Croatian police have been accused by local and international NGOs of illegal pushbacks and violence against migrants and refugees.

The interior ministry has thusfar always denied these accusations, saying that they cannot be verified and that some migrants try to make false accusations to facilitate their requests for asylum and to get aid from NGOs.


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