The chairman of the Croatian Parliament's Home Affairs and National Security Committee, Ranko Ostojic of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP), said on Wednesday he had requested a report from the Ministry of the Interior following news that two Nigerian students had been unlawfully deported to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
"The news raises suspicions that what we have been saying all along is true, that (migrants) are being discouraged and turned back deep in our territory and that people who come to sporting competitions risk being put in a van and taken to Bosnia and Herzegovina. But I would rather refrain from commenting before we receive a report from the Ministry of the Interior," Ostojic said.
He said that conclusions on the situation on the border and the Schengen area would not be adopted at today's meeting, just as they had not been at the previous meeting because of a lack of quorum.
Ostojic said that the ruling coalition and the opposition differed on the question of migrants, adding that he gave the priority to human rights.
"The border can be guarded in different ways. Some do it with wire fencing, but wire fencing has never stopped anyone. People are stopped by tough laws, such as those in Hungary where anyone who gets over the wire fence gets three years in jail, or five years if they damage the fence. Admittedly, we have a very long border with Bosnia and Herzegovina and there is a great influx of migrants, which is why Croatia should ask the European Union for uniform treatment," Ostojic said.
He said that the EU was closing its eyes, while Frontex, which has an office for human rights, was not checking what was going on in Croatia. "Europe obviously tacitly agrees with this way, whose sole purpose is to slow down the migrants, and is doing absolutely nothing. It even commends this kind of action," he added.
Zarko Katic, state secretary at the Ministry of the Interior, would not comment on the case of the Nigerian students and referred the press to a statement by the Ministry. The Committee members from the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), Miroslav Tudjman and Ante Sanader, also declined comment, while the opposition members called it a disgrace.
"If it is true that this happened to two university students who came to represent their country, then it's a big disgrace. Last week, the state secretary at the Ministry of the Interior, Terezija Gras, denied any incidents happening, while Human Rights Obumdswoman Lora Vidovic showed evidence to the contrary," Ines Strenja of the Bridge party said.
"The situation at Vucjak (migrant centre in Bosnia and Herzegovina) is disastrous, but Croatia cannot be the only county to defend Europe and at the expense of its bid to join the Schengen area. What is going on out there? There is no price we should pay to lose our humanity. If people are hungry and are being chased in the woods like animals and treated inhumanely, we should not close our eyes anymore. The Croatian border should be guarded in a different way," Strenja said.
Boris Miletic, the mayor of the northern Adriatic city of Pula, on Wednesday called on Minister of the Interior Davor Bozinovic to review the police treatment of the two Nigerian students who participated in the World InterUniversities Championships in Pula and were deported from Zagreb to Bosnia and Herzegovina as illegal migrants, describing the police act as disgraceful.