After reportedly being hit, beaten, and sexually assaulted by the Croatian authorities throughout their efforts to enter western Europe for asylum, migrants and refugees suffered "severe injuries."
The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) compiled statements last week from over 70 migrants and refugees at the Miral camp in western Bosnia who said the Croatian authorities had subjected them to abusive pushbacks.
Human rights organizations have previously suspected Croatian authorities of abusive pushbacks, although many claims that in the process, their belongings were also stolen from refugees.
However, on Wednesday, the current DRC testimony, submitted to a news outlet, marks an outbreak in allegations of sexual harassment, including "extreme violence."
Four Afghan refugees, aged 16 to 24, entered the country and were arrested by the Croatian authorities, as per their testimony. They moved to an undisclosed location in Croatia on October 14, then turned over to 10 armed individuals, dressed all in black, and their faces were wholly hidden with bandanas.
DRC stated, describing the 24-year-old Afghan: "Midway during the beating, one of the men in black penetrated M.K.'s anus forcefully with a branch. The penetration was done over the underwear. During this particular moment, the rest of the men in black were laughing."
For about eight minutes, the Croatian authorities proceeded to abuse and beat the refugees over again. A physician who assessed them in Bihac confirmed what had already been done on them, led to "severe injuries" just after refugees moved to withdraw to Bosnia. The penetration induced bleeding.
Accusations not true
In a news report, a spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior of Croatia stated that its immigration officers were suspected of inhumane treatment of refugees "without providing any kind of evidence or at least basic information that could be verified."
"Once these accusations were made, the Ministry of the Interior certainly initiated urgent procedures to verify the allegations since it is our objective and in our interest to, on one hand, remove any suspicion of actions taken by Croatian police officers. And, on the other hand, sanction and eliminate irregularities if, by chance, any have occurred," stated the spokesperson.
Call for investigation
Moreover, human rights organizations have previously challenged the European Border and Coast Guard, Frontex, arguing that it has failed to comply with its task to defend refugees' human rights.
On Wednesday, the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN), a community of NGOs in the Balkan territories, released an independent investigation, verifying the DRC reports.
BVMN data indicates that 36 refugees have been driven back from Croatia since October 3, with "extreme physical assaults" included for each Cetingrad region incident, BVMN spokesperson Jack Sapoch said in a report.
"This is only one of many examples of how this violence is tacitly encouraged by the European Union, which has supplied the Croatian state with hundreds of millions of euros of technological equipment to secure the E.U.'s external border in the last decade," Sapoch added.
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