Croatia "Cruel and Violent" in Handling Migration

Human rights violations of migrants are occurring daily across Croatia. Now organisations are calling for an end to these illegal practices.

Croatia continues to deny access to the asylum system and illegally expel refugees across green borders into neighbouring countries. These practices are accompanied by increasingly cruel and violent practices, including stripping, electric shocks, beating, stamping, shooting at migrants and arbitrary detention. Children have not been spared these abuses either.

Organisations and media warn of violent and illegal practices

As well as the Centre for Peace Studies, a number of organisations and institutions and numerous Croatian and foreign media have been warning about these problems. These organisations include Border Violence Monitoring Network, Are You Syrious, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights for Migrants, The European Council, the Ombudswoman and members of the European Parliament. Even the president of the Republic of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, carelessly confirmed for Swiss television that violent and illegal expulsions - pushbacks - were being carried out. However, despite acknowledging gross violations of human rights, as well as domestic, European and international law, the European Commission has given Croatia the green light to enter the Schengen zone, although it has acknowledged that these accusations pose a challenge.

Illegality has become systemic

The systematic nature of these practices has been confirmed by the Croatian authorities' perseverance in not prosecuting illegality. This is indicated by three years without effective investigations, a lack of civilian oversight of police work, the absence of independent monitoring mechanisms in border areas, and the denial of access to information about police actions to the Ombudsman and National Preventive Mechanism, and discrediting their work.

The culmination of illegality and violence is best demonstrated by the frequent and unauthorized use of weapons and increasingly common testimonies of police officers about the organization of illegal acts and the illegal orders they are compelled to carry out.

Police officers anonymously confirm illegality

An anonymous letter from police officers to the Ombudsman confirmed that the use of weapons during the illegal expulsion of migrants from Croatian territory is common practice. Another police officer confirmed in an anonymous interview this summer that orders to deny access to asylum and illegal treatment come from superiors. The latest testimony of a police officer indicates that the police are involved in illegality at the very highest levels, and describes the illegal structure of the "unit" itself, which uses illegal methods to avoid recording evidence of illegal expulsions carried out with arbitrary detention in garages, family separation and the illegal use of dogs for attack.

In addition to the escalation of violence, 2019 was marked by brave and true police officers who stood up for humanity and human security, felt responsible for stopping the practice of unlawful expulsion, and spoke out against the violence they were ordered to carry out by their superiors.