Democracy & Justice

Croatian NGOs Decry Illegal Rejections of Asylum Applications

At least 30 cases have been recorded so far this year where a foreigner's application for asylum or humanitarian protection status in Croatia was denied for unsubstantiated security reasons.

by Lovorka Šošić
The NGOs Are You Syrious? and Centre for Peace Studies, together with attorney Sanja Bezbradica Jelavić, warn about the dangerous practice of Croatia's Security and Intelligence Agency regarding the adoption of unexplained conclusions that are later used to reject foreigners and refugees applications.

The Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA) makes conclusions that represent an obstacle for obtaining international protection, citizenship and temporary or permanent stay for refugees and foreigners. The NGOs have prepared a report on the arbitrary and unlawful practices of the Ministry of the Interior and the SOA related to their refusal to grant international protection status to foreigners in Croatia.

The NGOs say that at least 30 cases have been recorded since the beginning of this year where an application was denied due to a so-called "security obstacle." Among them are juveniles whose parents received a "security obstacle" and a disabled mother in a wheelchair.

International protection seekers who received such decisions are primarily from Iraq and Syria, and specifically from areas that are still affected by armed conflicts, such as Baghdad, Mosul and Aleppo.

Automatic rejection

In all these cases, the Ministry of Interior found that there were grounds for granting asylum or humanitarian protection status, but as a result of the Security and Intelligence Agency's assessment (classified by the lowest level of classification - "LIMITED") stating the existence these "security obstacles" - without any further explanation - the applications are automatically rejected.

It is known that the lowest classification level does not entail data related to "national security and vital interests of the Republic of Croatia," but that is not preventing the Ministry of Interior, who has no insight into the opinion, from continuing to reject requests for international protection, citizenship or residence.

Because of this, the NGOs are urgently asking that such practices, which undoubtedly lead to violations of the human rights of refugees and foreigners in Croatia, be stopped immediately. They also want the competent institutions to investigate and sanction those who are responsible for illegal conduct.