In the framework of the Dublin procedure, several people locked up in a detention centre have been expelled to Croatia, where they had already been subjected to serious acts of violence. Others are likely to be deported in the coming days.
For several months now, people of Burundian nationality have been regularly arrested in accommodation centres (open centre, samusocial, Arianne centre, Fedasil centre, home, reference address) or at the Aliens Office.
All these people are subject to a “Dublin Croatia”, which means that Croatia is the first EU country where they have been forced to give their fingerprints and therefore Croatia is considered the European country “responsible” for processing their application for international protection.
In general, these arrests are part of a strategy by the Aliens Office to increase the deportation of “dubliners” and to systematically lock them up in detention centres. One of the objectives of this strategy is to deter further arrivals.
We have recently been in contact with five women locked up in the Holsbeek detention centre. So far, two of them have been deported to Zagreb. Three Burundian men are also locked up in the 127 bis detention centre.
Appeals in extreme urgency against the Aliens Office have been lodged to contest these expulsions.
They testify: “We are on death row”. “We can’t imagine what we went through while in Croatia. “It’s torture”.
The situation of migrants in Croatia is widely commented on by Human Rights Watch: the organisation reports that Croatian authorities are repeatedly held responsible for the illegal refoulement of people who have tried to reach Croatia from Serbia or Bosnia-Herzegovina. In addition, there are numerous reports of physical abuse by Croatian police as well as obstruction of access to the asylum process (HRW, 2023).
A statement, dated 8 December 2022 and signed by several international organisations (Amnesty International, Border Violence Monitoring Network, Centre for Peace Studies, Danish Refugee Council, ECRE, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam, International Rescue Committee) deplores the Council of Europe’s decision to admit Croatia into the Shengen area despite ample evidence of human rights violations. “Between the beginning of August and the end of November, a total of 1,395 people reported being illegally deported from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to data collected by the Danish Refugee Council’s Protection Monitoring Programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina. (HRW, 2022)
Furthermore, the NGO notes that the Croatian authorities have not conducted any investigations into allegations of police violence. The vast majority of complaints (almost 90%) were dismissed by the Ministry of Interior. (HRW, 2022)
“Croatia continued to deny access to asylum to thousands of potential asylum seekers. Humanitarian organisations have documented approximately 10,000 cases of refoulement and collective expulsion, as well as numerous cases of violence and abuse. In February, the Danish Refugee Council reported that two women had been sexually abused, forced to undress, held at gunpoint and threatened with rape by Croatian police officers. The Ministry of Interior denied this information” (Amnesty, 2021).
Numerous testimonies from people who have been turned away and subjected to violence in Croatia are available here: https://www.borderviolence.eu/violence-reports/