• THE OMBUDSWOMAN REVEALS FRIGHTENING FACTS ABOUT POLICE TREATMENT OF REFUGEES

    After multiple international and Croatian non-governmental organizations, activists and refugees have been warning and reporting on the illegal and violent expulsion of refugees from Croatia coupled with limited access to the international protection for over a year,

    Croatian Ombudswoman issued a report to the State Attorney of the Republic of Croatia (DORH) stating that Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP) systematically works on covering up their mistreatment of refugees. It is our concern that the Ministry of the Internal Affairs issued two commands to its officials. Bot commands, one issued on the November 24th, 2016, and the other on February 15th, 2017 coincided with the increasing violence against refugees and illegal blockage of refugees to seek international protection on the territory of the Republic of Croatia. The civil society organizations have constantly been warning about the proportions of this situation.

    Data provided by the Ombudswoman states that the tragic case of Madina and her family is not the only case of the expulsion of children, the most vulnerable group of refugees, from Croatia. According to her allegations, the Ministry of Internal Affairs acted illegally and expelled the 9-year-old unaccompanied child instead of being assigned to a guardian, and besides the boy, at the same time, two more children aged 12 and 15 found themselves in the same situation.

    The Minister said, on two occasions, that the police knew nothing about the alleged expulsion of a nine-year-old child, despite the fact that the Ombudswoman forwarded all information about this particular case to the Ministry of Internal Affairs in June. Also, the Office of the Ombudswoman referred to a similar random overview of the information system of one Balkan police station, which revealed that children, as well as adults, are deported by a shortened procedure (fast-track procedure) without identification, without medical examination and social care assistance. Instead of carrying out an effective investigation into the cases she warned, the minister warned that he would probably say that it was just a lack of communication between the institutions.

    Concerning the death of 6-year-old Madina, the Ministry of Internal Affairs claims that it has no key footage due to the so-called “technical difficulties.” And in a few other cases it happened that during the time that the refugees claimed that the police had acted up, including push backs and using violence, there were no records. Specifically, if the push-back situation took place from 12:50 am until 1:30 am – in that time recording would stop. Such claims may point to concealment of evidence that could highlight the violations of human rights of refugees and the misconduct and manipulative treatment.

    The new light was shed on Madina’s death case through an official note of the Police Directorate of the Serbian Ministry of the Internal Affairs which states that a group of migrants that night was moving towards Šid “after the police officers of the Republic of Croatia blocked them from attempting to enter Croatia illegally.” The statement also confirms her mother’s story. The same was confirmed by the train driver who steered the train that hit the little girl. He claimed to have seen people go from the direction of Tovarnik towards Šid on foot along the track.

    The first 40 refugees who came from Turkey through the resettlement procedure last week found a new home in Zadar. They arrived in Croatia at the end of November and in the first six weeks lived in the Reception Center in Kutina, where they went through 80 hours of an accelerated Croatian language course and 16 hours of social and economic orientation. Seven married couples and their 26 children are currently living in a hostel in Zadar, which should serve as temporary accommodation until they find an appropriate accommodation. 13 children of elementary school age should go to school while at the same time their younger brothers and sisters, also 13, will go to kindergarten.

    The second group of refugees resettled from Turkey, 36 of them, arrived in Croatia in late January and is currently accommodated in the Reception Center in Kutina.

    Despite the fact that in September and December 2017 decisions on granting financial and additional funding for the implementation of the project “Reconstruction and adaptation of the reception center for asylum seekers in Zagreb” were made, reconstruction and adaptation itself have not yet begun. For months, some of the rooms at the Reception Center have no electricity, and the inmates of Porin are “borrowing electricity” from other rooms by extension cables.

    There are also several cases of people returned to Croatia by the Dublin Decrees in 2016 and 2017,  and in the meantime Austria gave them an approval to come back with a promise that authorities will reconsider their cases but after some time Austria, again, returned them to Croatia. These and other situations in which the system is playing ping pong with people are causing dissatisfaction and depression of people who have long been in them. Two weeks ago, the asylum seeker rose to a pier near Hotel Porin and threatened to commit suicide. He came to Croatia through the system of relocation from Italy 9 months ago and has been waiting since to resolve his status, as the only one from the group with whom he came, who remained unanswered. After talking to the negotiator, the asylum seeker decided to step down.

    Announcement:

    Sign up for training and organize a small social action that will encourage positive change and tolerance in your environment. The training brings together young people from Croatia, different interest spheres, active in their community, who will spend two weeks learning from each other,  sharing experiences, sharing problems and trying to define and solve them jointly. Applications are due until February 23. More about how to sign up read here.

    BicPop continues their work with refugees. After more than 100 bicycles donated last year, now they are organizing a beginner course for bicycle repair exclusively for refugees. The course will be held in Croatian and Arabic. More information, including an Arabic call, is available here.

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