Croatia’s interior minister confirmed on Friday that police officers had pushed back migrants at the border with Bosnia, hours after Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said any use of violence against migrants was “shameful.”
State news agency Hina quoted Davor Bozinovic as saying he expected more details soon from the national police chief following an investigation into an incident in June.
“The chief police director immediately formed an expert team which worked intensively and, as far as I know, they concluded there was involvement of policemen,” Bozinovic said on the sidelines of a meeting of EU interior ministers in Luxembourg.
“Now a regular procedure envisaged in such a case follows.”
Bozinovic did not give more details. He had said on Thursday that Croatian border police acted in line with the law and did not tolerate any abuse of authority.
Several European media outlets reported this week that Greek and Croatian officials were illegally and sometimes violently pushing back migrants. The European Commission called for an investigation on Thursday.
Reuters has not independently verified the media reports.
Greece said earlier on Friday that it would investigate the accusations.
Non-governmental organizations in Croatia and Bosnia have warned on several occasions in recent years that illegal migrant pushback was happening on the border between Bosnia and Croatia.
Earlier on Friday, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said EU countries needed to protect the bloc’s external borders, but they also had to uphold values, the rule of law and fundamental rights.
Under international law, migrants have a right to claim asylum and it is forbidden to send potential asylum-seekers back to where their lives or well-being might be in danger. [Reuters]