During this year, activists from the NGO Are You Syrious? and the Welcome! Initiative have on several occasions warned against unlawful and violent police conduct towards refugees who cross the border into Croatian territory, mostly from Serbia. In this regard, we published the Report on Unlawful and Forced Push-backs of Refugees from the Republic of Croatia on 24 January 2017 and the Second Report on Unlawful and Forced Push-backs of Refugees from the Republic of Croatia on 7 March 2017. After the first report, we lodged a criminal complaint to the Ministry of the Interior on 26 January, followed by a complaint to the Ombudswoman. At the invitation of the Ministry of the Interior, we attended a meeting with the Police Directorate, other services of the Ministry of the Interior and NGOs engaged mainly in providing direct support to refugees in Croatia.
The requests we made in those reports and meetings – enabling civilian oversight of the border, return of expelled refugees, a thorough investigation into unlawful returns to Serbia and sanctioning of violent and responsible persons – have not yet been fulfilled, or were fulfilled in an unsatisfactory manner, as in the case of the investigation. Our fundamental demand, cessation of all violent and unlawful conduct towards refugees on the territory of the Republic of Croatia, has not been met. Moreover, according to publicly available reports and press releases, as well as reports, witness testimonies and other material we received from refugees or persons who were in contact with refugees, there has since been a multiple increase in the number of unlawful expulsions and escalation of violence on Croatian borders.