A woman from Afghanistan claims that she was sexually abused by Croatian border police, and even held at knife point, after crossing the border, the Guardian said on Wednesday.
According to a dossier from the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), the incident occurred on 15 February, on Croatian territory, a few kilometres from the Bosnian city of Velika Kladusa, the British newspaper said.
In the report the woman said she tried to cross the border with a group of four others, including two children, but they were stopped by an officer who allegedly pointed a rifle at them.
The Afghans asked for asylum, at which one of the officers laughed, after which the woman was singled out for a search, the Guardian said, quoting her as saying that she insisted that he should not touch her because she was a woman and a Muslim, after which the officer slapped her.
The officer allegedly touched her breasts and behind, and ordered her to remove all her T-shirts, which she refused. The five migrants were then taken away in a police vehicle, after which the police again hit the Afghan woman, ordering her to strip naked and starting to sexually abuse her, at one point putting a knife to her throat.
The police physically assaulted other migrants from the group as well, and ordered them to walk back to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Guardian said.
It added that the European Commission condemned this alleged act and called on the Croatian authorities to investigate all allegations and punish those responsible.
DRC secretary general Charlotte Slente was quoted as saying that despite the Commission’s engagement on the migrant issue on the Croatian border, there had been no progress in recent months either in investigations of reports of brutal treatment by police or in the development of independent border monitoring mechanisms.
According to the Guardian, the Croatian Interior Ministry said there were no recorded dealings with “females from the population of illegal migrants” on the day in question and that Croatian police, by saving the lives of hundreds of migrants from minefields, rivers and snow, showed not only an organized and professional approach in the protection of the state border but humanity as well.
The Interior Ministry says the Croatian police are persistently portrayed as brutal without a single piece of evidence and that illegal migrants, when they fail to cross the border, are ready to falsely accuse those same police of abuse, the Guardian said.
According to the DRC, since May 2019 almost 24,000 migrants have been illegally pushed back to Bosnia, including 547 between January and February 2021.