Police violently attacked migrants in Croatia on 18 November. It has been reported that a migrant was shot while he was trying to cross the Slovenian border from Croatia. Croatian police tried to defend themselves declaring that the person was the victim of “accidental firing”. Meanwhile, several human rights defender organisations are accusing the Croatian authorities of using excessive force against migrants entering from Bosnia and Serbia. Croatia is in the process of negotiating its access to the Schengen area. To do so, the government has to convince Brussels that it is able to effectively manage the bloc's external border, a particularly sensitive issue in Europe since 2015. The situation is also tense in Bosnia and Serbia, new hotspots on the Balkan route.
As SOLIDAR Croatian member Center for Peace Studies (CMS) underlines, Croatia does not respect or apply relevant international standards and the Schengen Border Code (SBC). In particular, Croatia is violating Article 13 of the SBC which states: “A person who has crossed a border illegally and who has no right to stay on the territory of the Member State concerned shall be apprehended and made subject to procedures respecting Directive 2008/115/EC”[…] and also “While we agree that expanding the Schengen space can be a positive and much-needed move towards improvement of free movement inside the European Union, Croatia’s Schengen membership should be made conditional on the immediate end to the Croatian Government’s illegal and violent push-back of migrants.”
SOLIDAR members are working daily to protect migrants’ fundamental rights. The task of our members is also to guarantee humanitarian aid and decent life conditions in the Balkan region. For this reason SOLIDAR condemns all violations of human freedom, life and dignity. We call for a clear condemnation by the European institutions of the events that occurred in Croatia and effective protection from the abuses perpetrated against migrants and the organisations working with them.