The European Commission (EC) plans to send officials to the Croatian border to monitor border police activity, after fresh allegations surfaced of migrants and asylum seekers being beaten and abused on the Croatian borders, EUobserver reported on Monday.
The monitoring mission, which will be sent when the coronavirus pandemic dies down, intends “to ensure that the activities of the Croatian border guards remain fully compliant with the respect of fundamental rights,” a EC spokesperson said on Friday, EUobserver wrote.
Last week, Amnesty International reported that a group of asylum seekers were bound and tortured by Croatian police officers who jeered them and smeared food on their wounds. Amnesty International said they had spoken to six men who, along with ten other asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Pakistan, were caught by a group of some 10 men dressed in uniforms and balaclavas near the Plitvice Lake in late May. According to the migrants, the uniformed men had beaten them with batons and pistol grips.
“The European Union can no longer remain silent and wilfully ignore the violence and abuses by Croatian police on its external borders. Their silence is allowing, and even encouraging, the perpetrators of this abuse to continue without consequences. The European Commission must investigate the latest reports of horrifying police violence against migrants and asylum-seekers,” Massimo Moratti, Deputy Director of the Europe Office, said at the time.
Allegations against Croatian border police of mistreating incoming migrants and forcing them back to Bosnia and Herzegovina without allowing them to request asylum have been mounting for months, but Croatian authorities have repeatedly denied all accusations.
Last month, the British daily The Guardian reported it had obtained photographs of migrants who were allegedly abused and humiliated by the Croatian border police after being caught attempting to cross the border from Bosnia. The police had allegedly spray-painted crosses on their heads. The UN has requested that the Croatian government investigate the allegations.
The Guardian on Monday also accused EU officials of "covering up" evidence on the failure on the part of Croatian government in protecting migrants from alleged abuse at the hands of the border police.
The daily reported they had seen internal emails from the European Commission which revealed that the officials in Brussels, fearing backlash, had decided against uncovering Croatia’s lack of commitment in monitoring the border, a mechanism funded by the EU.
Croatian Interior Minister, Davor Bozinovic, commented on the latest accusations on Friday, Croatian state agency Hina reported, once again denying all reports and saying that “Croatian police is protecting the border and preventing illegal entry.”
“In any case, our message is that we will respect Croatian and European laws and no one will stop us from protecting the Croatian border from illegal crossings, regardless of where the pressure comes from,” Bozinovic said on Friday.