Croatia denies police violently push migrants into Bosnia
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Croatian authorities on Sunday denied a report by an international watchdog group that alleged police were illegally and sometimes violently pushing migrants back into neighboring Bosnia.
The Interior Ministry issued the denial in response to a video published by the Border Violence Monitoring group that showed armed Croatian police officers shouting orders at a group of migrants and escorting them out of a forest.
The monitoring group said it had more footage from cameras hidden along Croatia’s border with Bosnia and provided to BVM from people who “prefer to remain anonymous . for security reasons.”
The Croatian Interior Ministry said the video was filmed “right at the border” with Bosnia where there are no official crossing points. It said officers were not expelling migrants but legally “deterring” them from illegally entering Croatia.
Police in Croatia have denied similar accusations in the past.
Migrants hope to enter Croatia, a European Union member, as an entrance point to western Europe. Several thousand people waiting for opportunities to cross the border remain in Bosnia, and aid groups have voiced concern as harsh winter weather makes camping outdoors dangerous.
On Sunday evening, Bosnia’s mountain rescue teams reported finding four migrants who had been lost since Saturday in a mountainous area on the country’s border with Croatia. Severe frostbite threatened the lives of two of them, rescue authorities said.
The rescuers said they found another 20 migrants roaming the snow-covered region while seeking a way to cross into Croatia earlier Sunday.