CPS demmands MUP's official statement regarding President's quotes on pushbacks


Ombudswoman Lora Vidović yesterday published an anonymous complaint by border police officers about systematic unlawful actions by the Croatian police. While numerous Croatian and international organisations, institutions and media have been warning about these practises for several years, this is the first public confirmation of such conduct coming from police officials on the ground. 

The complaint was made public after President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović told Swiss TV last week that Croatian police have been carrying out unlawful pushbacks using "a little bit of force", a claim to which the Interior Ministry still has not responded to, despite requests. 

The fact that the ombudswoman, a representative of the Croatian parliament for the protection and promotion of human rights and liberties, after requesting an investigation, has received no feedback from the State's Attorney Office nor the parliament committees shows that the rule of law in Croatia is seriously undermined. To make things worse, the ombudswoman has been warning for months that she is being denied access to data on the treatment of migrants, data that by law has to be provided to her.

For more than two years, the Centre for Peace Studies and other organisations and institutions have been warning that such illegal treatment undermines the human rights of refugees, and as the officer complaint shows, also the labour and human rights of the police, who are forced, contrary to their beliefs, to harm other people and break the laws they are supposed to be protecting and implementing. 

 Especially worrisome is that the officers said the orders for unlawful pushbacks came from their superiors and that, afraid of losing their jobs, they saw the only way out in an anonymous complaint to the ombudswoman. This lack of trust clearly shows us that the system is bursting at the seams and that this situation is unacceptable and untenable: no one should worry about their status and position because of their refusal to follow unlawful orders and for warning about such practises. In fact, the Law on Police Affairs provides that an officer has to refuse an order whose execution would be a criminal offence, and about which they have to notify their superior officer, the State Attorney’s Office, a president of the court or a leading official of another authorised body. 

There has to be an independent and efficient investigation into the claims of the anonymous complaint, as well as about other previous ones; in addition, unlawful practises have to be halted and sanctioned. People in the leading positions in the Ministry of Interior, Police Directorate and specific police stations in question have to be held politically and legally accountable. Why are violent and illegal practises not a reason for the dismissal of those officials and officers responsible? Croatia needs a thorough reconstruction of the government and system, far more comprehensive than the one announced right now.


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