Croatian authorities have officially denied a report by an international organization that stated Croatian police were illegally and sometimes violently pushing migrants back on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Croatian Interior Ministry issued the denial in response to a video published by the Border Violence Monitoring group that showed Croatian police officers, armed, shouting orders to a group of migrants and escorting them out of Croatian territory.
The Croatian Interior Ministry said the video was filmed “right at the border” with BiH where there are no official crossing points and that Croatian police officers were not expelling migrants but that they were legally “deterring” them from illegally entering Croatia.
To recall, Human Rights Watch said that all 20 interviewees gave detailed accounts of being detained by people who either identified themselves as Croatian police or wore uniforms matching those worn by Croatian police. Seventeen gave consistent descriptions of the police vans used to transport them to the border. One mother and daughter were transported in what they described as a police car. Two people said that police had fired shots in the air, and five said that the police were wearing masks.
These findings confirm mounting evidence of abuse at Croatia’s external borders, Human Rights Watch said. In December 2016, Human Rights Watch documented similar abuses by Croatian police at Croatia’s border with Serbia. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported in August 2018 that it had received reports Croatia had summarily pushed back 2,500 migrants and asylum seekers to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina since the beginning of the year, at times accompanied by violence and theft.