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

Three Croatian border police officers have been suspended from duty after revelations about their participation in violence against migrants at the border with Bosnia.

Three Croatian border police officers who were found to have participated in violence against migrants at the border with Bosnia were suspended from service, the Croatian Police Directorate said in a statement released Monday (October 11).

Moreover, a disciplinary procedure was started against them, according to the directorate.

Last week, Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović confirmed that police from the country's anti-riot unit were the masked men seen in a video committing violent pushbacks filmed in June by a group of international investigative journalists at the Croatia-Bosnia border.

Violence while they were on duty

In the video, the men are shown beating at least four migrants before pushing them forcefully back to the other side of the border, shouting "Go to Bosnia!".

For years, Croatian police have been accused by migrants, human rights organisations and the press of committing acts of violence during forced pushback.

It is suspected that the behavior has the approval of senior officials in the police and the Interior Ministry itself. However, Croatian politicians have so far denied culpability.

The disciplinary procedure started against the men limits responsibility only to the three of them. It exonerates their superiors, at least for now. The three officers are, in fact, suspected of having acted during work hours, therefore while on duty, against internal rules and in so doing "caused damage to the honour and reputation of the Croatian police."

Various NGOs have called on an investigation into senior officials in the police force and for the resignation of Božinović, the interior minister.

'Mistreatment unacceptable'

Speaking out on Monday against the mistreatment of migrants in Croatia, a German foreign ministry spokesperson called "mistreatment of refugees and migrants by those who protect borders" an "unacceptable" at a press conference in Berlin.

The German government has "noted with concern" the media reports and called on Croatian authorities to quickly explain the actions. Any form of border protection must respect humanitarian standards in all circumstances, the spokesperson added.

 

More articles