Brutal pushbacks filmed on Croatia's border

An international team of reporters has filmed migrants trying to cross the Bosnian-Croatian border into the EU and being physically pushed back with beatings by men using Croatian police equipment. Such pushbacks are illegal, and the EU has announced an investigation. Europe's media - spearheaded by Croatia - are incensed.

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Jutarnji list (HR) /

Find a European solution

The illegal pushbacks are an embarrassment for Croatia, Jutarnji list writes:

“If these men are police officers, it means that our police are deliberately breaking Croatian, EU and international law. If they are not police officers, it is proof that we do not have our borders under control, as we thought, but that there are individuals who catch migrants on their own and push them back across the borders while the police remain in the dark. ... Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina must find a joint European solution to this serious problem. Otherwise this border zone will be constantly dogged by problems with migrants.”

Novi list (HR) /

The dilemma on the EU's external borders

Zagreb is in a difficult position, Novi list points out:

“On the one hand Croatia is expected to follow all humanitarian conventions to the letter. ... On the other it wants to join Schengen, in which it is already the first line of defence without being a member. The neighbouring EU countries have closed their borders. Croatia and Greece are on the front line in the EU, as are Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which want to become members. And they are trying to cope with this situation as best they can. ... Regardless of the hypocrisy of the rich [EU countries], however, Croatia must not allow itself to respond in the way that is documented on the recordings.” (HR) /

The people do not object

The worst thing about the whole situation is that the Croatian police can be sure of public support, laments:

“This is precisely what allows this bloody, inhumane, unlawful practice to continue on the border between Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina - in other words between the EU and Bosnia Herzegovina. Because if the majority were horrified by the illegal beatings of migrants, it would not have been so easy for [Prime Minister] Plenković and his Interior Minister Davor Božinović to pursue a policy for years which violates Croatian and international law. However the people are not horrified, because it's clear how the majority of Croatians feel.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

No EU funds for state-organised violence

Brussels most now take action against the pushbacks, Deutschlandfunk stresses:

“What the Commission could do now would be first of all to thoroughly examine where EU funds for border protection are going. According to media reports, Croatia uses these funds to finance, among other things, housing and equipment for these thugs. ... If this is true, it would be a strong indictment - especially since the whole affair only became public thanks to a [media] investigation. And this despite the fact that the EU has an independent monitoring mechanism in Croatia. It must be redesigned to ensure that it deserves to be described as independent. As things stand now, the Croatian authorities are usually only inspected after prior notification. Obviously that is not enough.”