EVIDENCE ON SYSTEMATIC TORTURE OF REFUGEES AT OUR BORDERS NOW IN HIGH RESOLUTION: How clear must the picture be in order for crimes to be sanctioned?


Violent and illegal expulsion of refugees from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina was recorded in high resolution for the first time and featured in the media across Europe. Forensic analysis of the footage showed that it is Croatian police officers who performed violent and illegal expulsion of refugees, which included beating and pushing into the river. Their uniforms correspond to the uniforms and equipment of the special police unit, which is according to certain indications linked to the so-called ‘Operation Corridor’, already mentioned by the police officers themselves. 

The videos published by a group of journalists from ARD, Lighthouse Report, Novosti, RTL Croatia, Spiegel and SRF not only confirm the involvement of special police units in performing violent and illegal expulsions, but also prove the credibility of the testimonies of victims of violent and illegal expulsions accusing police officers in the same uniforms of torture and inhuman treatment. We recall that in 2020, Centre for Peace Studies filed three different criminal complaints in which the perpetrators were precisely armed men in unmarked black uniforms with balaclavas over their faces. 


Thus, this footage joins thousands of collected testimonies of refugees who are victims of violent and illegal expulsions in the last five years, together with the testimonies of police officers, which once again prove the obvious – violent and illegal expulsions of refugees are a systematic practice which violates human rights, national, European and international law. The Republic of Croatia, with the support of the European Union which finances such illegal practices, has decided to turn its back on people seeking safety and further expose them to violence. 


In order to prevent these violent practices and protect the human rights and lives of refugees at our borders, it is necessary to urgently open safe and legal routes for refugees, and to ensure independent monitoring of the treatment of refugees and other migrants by police officers. It is essential for the monitoring mechanism to be transparent, independent and efficient, and these are exactly the three elements that are missing in the mechanism agreed by the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia and the European Commission. Specifically, the mechanism for monitoring actions at the borders was announced precisely due to numerous accusations of human rights violations at the Croatian border. Ironically, the Ministry of the Interior decided how the monitoring over itself will be done, and it chose the actors implementing it – without launching a public call and clearly defining criteria. Above all that, the intention of the Ministry of the Interior to make the monitoring over their conduct towards refugees and other migrants completely inefficient is proven by the fact that monitoring sessions at the green border must be announced, and that is where 90% of human rights violations and violence take place, as shown in the footage of the group of journalists. It is obvious that there is something to hide at our borders, if so much effort has been put into ensuring that the monitoring mechanism cannot actually work. If the ‘monitoring mechanism’ takes place as announced – its main purpose will be to pull the wool over our eyes.

All available information and evidence show that such actions can hardly be considered as individual and isolated cases, so the investigation of this case must include an examination of the involvement and responsibility of higher levels within the Police Directorate and the Ministry of the Interior. Sanctioning the perpetrators of these crimes at the lowest level will not solve the problem – it is necessary to sanction all those who ordered, enabled and covered up these practices, and top officials in the Ministry of the Interior, including Minister Božinović, must be held accountable. 


Therefore, Centre for Peace Studies demands:

  • to stop the violence and hold accountable all those who carry out and order the torture and illegal expulsion of refugees from the Republic of Croatia, together participating in the most serious human rights violations in the Republic of Croatia of present day;
  • sanctioning all perpetrators and conducting effective and independent investigations into crimes committed at our borders;
  • establishing a transparent, independent and effective mechanism for monitoring the treatment of refugees and other migrants by police officers.

The Republic of Croatia is obliged to guarantee safety and protection of every human life at its borders and on its territory! 

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