Reports of police brutality against asylum seekers in Croatia

Human Rights Watch reports police abuse of refugees in Croatia

A human rights researcher interviews migrants, refugees and asylum seekers about police abuse on the Croatia-Bosnia border.

In November, Lydia Gall from Human Rights Watch spent four days talking to migrants, including asylum seekers.

They reported having been beaten and robbed by Croatian police officers. Then they were illegally forced over the border to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Working in Eastern Europe and the Balkans as a researcher for Human Rights Watch, these stories are not new to Lydia.

But in her new comment piece she says: “What really struck me this time around was the sheer brutality and cruelty of the police assaults.”

A pregnant woman and a disabled teenager were two of those who alleged they were subjected to police violence.

There are now between 6,000 and 8,000 people trapped in Serbia and around 6,000 in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

They want to move onwards to EU states and particularly to Western Europe.

Lydia interviewed 20 people who had reached Croatia. Every one of them had been robbed of their phones and money by police.

After beatings and other humiliations, they were brutally forced back across the border, often on cold dark winter nights.

Croatia’s interior ministry has denied any wrongdoing but testimonies from migrants continue to emerge.

Following these reports Human Rights Watch is calling on the EU to take action.

Read more about the stories Lydia heard here.

More from the Balkans…

Our previous reports from the Balkans have included this conversation over coffee in Sarajevo and this study on freedom of assembly in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In Mechanical Dream, we visit a Kragujevac, once a proud Yugoslavian car manufacturing city, and in Friar Lawrence in the Balkans, Preti Taneja reports on an extraodinary performance of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in Pristina and Belgrade.