Allegations of Syrian Migrant Who Said Croatian Police Separated Him from Daughter Were False

By 21 December 2018

ZAGREB, December 21, 2018 - Syrian migrant Wadie Ghazi Sineid, who claimed that Croatian police separated him from his daughter, came to Europe alone, according to Interpol data, Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Friday, adding that this case showed that the institute of international protection was frequently abused.

In September, after Croatia returned him to Bosnia and Herzegovina, from which he had illegally entered Croatia, Sineid told Bosnian media that Croatian police had separated him from his daughter.

Božinović said the police immediately did everything they did in case of missing persons, notably children, finding that in all the countries Sineid had passed through on his way to Croatia - Turkey, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina - the Syrian migrant was registered without a child.

Croatian police also contacted police in Syria and Lebanon, Božinović told reporters. Damascus said that Sineid had left Syria in 2011 and that since then they had had no information about him and his daughter, while Beirut said they had no information about his family.

Božinović said that according to current information, Sineid was registered in the Netherlands in October and that it was not known if he had contacted anyone in Croatia.

"This example shows that the institute of international protection is often abused," he said, adding that over 80% of the people eligible to apply for asylum or some other form of international protection in Croatia disappeared during the procedure as they had freedom of movement. This shows that Croatia is not their goal and that they use those mechanisms to go a step further, he added.

Commenting on media criticisms of Croatian police brutality towards migrants on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Božinović said they checked each such report and that so far there had been no instances of violence, only acts of deterrence from the border.

As for accusations that Croatian police prevented migrants from applying for asylum, Božinović said that of the 7,500 people caught illegally entering Croatia, over 1,000 had applied for asylum or international protection.

"Everyone who wants to say that Croatia doesn't respect the law or that it is closed like some other countries, the facts and the numbers refute that," he said, adding that Croatia would be glad to let those people move on to other European Union countries if they wanted to receive them.

More news on Croatia’s migrant policies can be found in our Politics section.