Tuesday, 5 April 2022

ECHR Didn't Establish Croatia's Responsibility for Migrant Girl's Death, Rep Says

ZAGREB, 5 April 2022 - The office of Croatia's representative before the European Court of Human Rights said on Tuesday that by dismissing Croatia's application for a re-examination of the judgment in the case of Afghan migrant girl Madina Hussiny, the ECHR did not find that Croatia was responsible for her death.

The ECHR clearly states in the judgment that Croatia breached the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms because it did not effectively investigate the death of the six-year-old, the office said, adding that if someone was responsible for her death and who will be established by national bodies while executing the judgment.

The actions and decisions of Croatian bodies can be examined by domestic courts, up to the Constitutional Court, the office said.

Furthermore, it added, the ECHR did not find that any pressure was exerted on anyone in civil society nor that their representatives were prevented from doing their job.

This judgment is individual and refers to one family, therefore the ECHR did not find that the problems established by the judgment are systemic, the office said.

Besides an ineffective investigation, the ECHR established a violation of the Convention due to the conditions in the accommodation of minors in the Tovarnik migrant centre, but not a violation of the Convention with regard to the adult asylum seekers staying there with the children.

The ECHR also established violations of the Convention due to the lengthy asylum procedures before administrative courts, the impossibility to effectively contest decisions which restricted applicants' free movement in Tovarnik, and the impossibility to establish undisturbed contact between applicants and their lawyer.

The ECHR found that the applicants, who tried to illegally enter Croatia on 21 November 2017, were expelled contrary to a collective expulsion ban.

Other EU member states such as Italy, Greece, Poland and France, faced with a big migrant influx, have similar cases before the ECHR, the Croatian representative's office said, adding that this is the final judgment and that it will be executed.

In the initial judgment of November 2021, the ECHR found that the investigation of Hussiny's death, who was hit by a train on the Croatia-Serbia border in November 2017, was ineffective, ordering Croatia to pay €40,000 in damages to her family and €16,700 in court costs.

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

My Resignation Is Not On the Table, Interior Minister Says

ZAGREB, 5 April 2022 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Tuesday, after the European Court of Human Rights judgment in the case of six-year-old Afghan migrant girl Madina Hussiny has become final, that his resignation was not on the table and that the purpose of such rulings was to improve the system.

"In cases like this the burden of responsibility is always on the system. We need to see what can and should be rectified," Božinović told the press on the sidelines of the second day of the US Croatia Forum in Zagreb when asked whether he considered himself responsible and whether he would step down.

He said that the point of such court rulings was to rectify the shortcomings of the system through rules or improvements of practice. "The purpose of courts is to draw attention to such shortcomings," he added.

Božinović said that the death of the little migrant girl was a tragedy that affected everyone. "It happened in the territory of another country. An investigation was conducted and the court reached its conclusion. Now we have to find solutions and adopt measures to improve the system," the minister said.

The judgment, which found that Croatia violated the girl's right to life, has become final after the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights rejected the Croatian application for re-examination of the case.

The Centre for Peace Studies (CMS) said today that the government and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković could no longer look away but must urgently replace those responsible, including the minister of the interior, national chief of police Nikola Milina, head of the Directorate for Borders Zoran Ničeno, and state secretary Terezija Gras.

Croatian authorities will now have to take concrete steps to ensure that something like this never happens again, the CMS said. It urged the government to adopt measures to stop illegal and violent expulsions of illegal migrants from Croatia, ensure efficient investigations, punish perpetrators, and ensure full independence and efficiency of the police oversight mechanism.

Madina Hussiny was hit by a train at the Croatia-Serbia border in November 2017 after the Croatian authorities allegedly denied her family the opportunity to seek asylum and ordered them to return to Serbia along the tracks.

The Strasbourg-based court found Croatia responsible for a number of violations of rights under the European Convention on Human Rights - the right to life, the prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment, the prohibition of collective expulsions of aliens, the right to security and liberty, and the right of individual petition. 

Monday, 15 February 2021

Turkish Migrant Drowned Attempting Illegal Croatia Border Crossing

February 15, 2021 – Tragedy on the Bosnia Croatia border yesterday as a lifeless body was found in the River Glina. The Turkish migrant drowned attempting an illegal crossing into Croatia

The body of a Turkish citizen was discovered at the river Glina in northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina. The citizen had been missing for days and it was sadly already suspected the Turkish migrant drowned after becoming separated from a group they were travelling with.

Seven Turkish migrants had attempted to illegally cross the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Croatia on the Glina River during the night of Thursday 11 February 2021 and the morning of Friday 12 February 2021. They believed the water level in the area was low. Alongside extremely cold temperatures, the nighttime darkness they used as a cover for the illegal border crossing attempt, must have made the journey treacherous. The tragic result is that one Turkish migrant drowned.

According to Svevlad Hoffman, advisor to the director of the BiH Border Police, six migrants were saved from drowning at the time of the crossing, but one of the group disappeared. This Turkish migrant drowned.

"It was suspected that there was a drowning, which was unfortunately confirmed today," Hoffman said. He explained that the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia, whose members had found the Turkish migrant drowned, had informed them about the discovery of the body. Police from Bosnia and Herzegovina had informed Croatian counterparts about the situation at the time of the migrant's disappearance.

Investigation of the case was taken over by the State Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and six Turkish citizens were handed over to the jurisdiction of the Service for Foreigners Affairs of BiH.

The river Glina, where the Turkish migrant drowned, forms a natural border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the Croatian side of the border lie Karlovac County and Sisak-Moslavina County. On the Bosnian side of the border, many large camps have sprung up containing migrants who wish to attempt an illegal crossing into Croatia. Croatia is rarely their intended destination. Most are hoping to travel further west into the European Union.

The crossing where the Turkish migrant drowned is not the only border through which migrants try to enter. On Friday 12 February 2021, Osijek-Baranja police rescued a Syrian migrant family from inaccessible Slavonia wetlands. They had become cut off on an island and surrounded by swollen waters in the area around Kopacki rit Nature Park after crossing the border from Serbia.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Welcome! Initiative Demands Justice for Migrant Girl Killed by Train

ZAGREB, November 21, 2020 - The Welcome! Initiative on Saturday demanded justice for Madine Hussiny, a six-year-old Afghan migrant girl who died near the Croatian border three years ago, claiming that "nobody has been held to account yet."

The initiative said that on the day of her death, three years ago today, Madine's mother crossed the Croatian border with her six children and walked for an hour before spotting Croatian police, telling them they intended to apply for asylum.

The family says they were told to go back to Serbia and return to Croatia the next month, and that police ignored their plea to spend the night in Croatia because the children were exhausted. Police drove them close to the border and told them to follow a railway track towards Serbia, but shortly after that, Madine was killed by a train.

Welcome! said those responsible for her death had not been punished and that "violence and deaths on Croatian borders are normalised."

"That's why we are requesting justice for Madine and everyone who lost their lives in the search for security, those who are persecuted and those who have died on borders and in the name of borders," said the initiative.

Madine's death will forever be a symbol of the "cruelty of the contemporary border control regime and the European apartheid of which it is part," it added.

Croatian institutions have not taken responsibility and Madine's family has applied the European Court of Human Rights, the initiative said.

This was the third #JusticeForMadine campaign.