Bern, 05 December 2019

Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in Bern is sharing the reaction from the Ministry of the Interior

Berner Zeitung of 5 December 2019 (online version) published an article (“Kroatische Polizei verschleppt schwarze Studenten”) based on unverified and false information. It is hard to understand why the Swiss newspaper (again this time!) based its article solely on the  information from one Bosnian and Herzegovinian portal, without verifying the story and checking it with the Croatian authorities. Therefore, the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in Bern is sharing the reaction from the Ministry of the Interior, available since 4 December 2019 at their official website  (https://mup.gov.hr/vijesti/reagiranje-ministarstva-unutarnjih-poslova-rh-na-objavu-bih-portala/285917 ):  

The claims stating that the Croatian police acts and judges individuals based on the colour of their skin are unacceptable and we firmly reject them!

The police have investigated the publicly made claims on the actions allegedly taken against the Nigerian nationals on 17 November in Zagreb. The following day, on 18 November, they checked out of their hostel in Zagreb using their documents and left!

The Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia has investigated the claims made publicly on the Bosnian and Herzegovinian portal and the following has been established so far:

•       Five Nigerian nationals entered Croatia on 12 November this year, legally and in compliance with all of the necessary conditions, with the aim of participating in an inter-university competition in Pula. The persons in question were four participants and the head of their team.

•      After the competition, the head of the team and one of the participants left the Republic of Croatia, legally, from Zagreb airport.

•      Following the competition in Pula and one day before the rest of the group, two Nigerian nationals who are now being mentioned in Bosnian and Herzegovinian media went to Zagreb and stayed there for a while. They checked into a hostel in Zagreb on 16 November this year and checked out on 18 November, paid for their stay, took their documents and luggage with them, and left in an unknown direction.  We therefore reject the claim that they left their documents at the hostel and that the police officers from Police Administration Zagrebačka took any kind of action in relation to them as completely inaccurate. We would like to point out the contradictory nature of the claims according to which police officers took action against them on 17 November, given the fact that they checked out of their hostel in Zagreb on 18 November (therefore, the day after!). The police have no record of them exiting the Republic of Croatia legally, nor have the police officers working on combating irregular migration taken any action towards persons with their first and last name.

•       As regards the fifth member of the group, it was established that he left the accommodation in Pula on 17 November and attempted to leave the Republic of Croatia and enter Slovenia across border crossing points on two separate occasions. He was refused entry both times by the Slovenian border police officers due to the fact that he does not hold a Schengen visa. Following these attempts, the Nigerian national went to the 1st Police Station Zagreb-Centre and reported the loss of his travel document. The Nigerian national was offered to contact his embassy, but he refused. Given that his visa expired on 17 November this year, an administrative procedure was carried out and he was issued with a Decision on expulsion with a time limit of 14 days in which he was obligated to leave the European Economic Area (EEA). However, the said Nigerian national did not leave Croatia, but rather returned on 27 November to the 1st Police Station in Zagreb where he made an application for international protection in the Republic of Croatia. He is currently located in the Reception Centre for applicants for international protection in Zagreb as an asylum applicant. We would like to point out that he provided his travel document in the process, which he had earlier claimed to have lost. 

All Nigerian nationals had return tickets with flights scheduled for 17 November this year. Two of them used their tickets and left the Republic of Croatia in the following days, whereas the other three missed their opportunity to legally exit the Republic of Croatia. This fact raises doubt as to their intentions regarding their arrival and stay in the Republic of Croatia. 

Police officers have already witnessed cases of individuals who make an attempt or even abuse their participation or alleged participation in sports competitions in Croatia during strengthened measures for combating irregular migration, which is one of the ways in which foreign third-country nationals illegally continue their journey to the destination countries in the EU, following their legal entry into the Republic of Croatia and following their participation in the activity for which they obtained a license. 

A total of nine cases have been recorded this year in which Nigerian nationals were refused entry at border crossing points due to failure to meet the conditions for entry into the Republic of Croatia.

Police officers will continue to investigate all of the claims and available facts regarding this case in order to establish whether this is another case of abuse of sports competitions aimed at illegal migration.