Saturday, 23 July 2022

Seven Under Investigation for Smuggling Migrants

ZAGREB, 23 July 2022 - The USKOK anti-corruption office has launched an investigation into six Croatian nationals and one Bosnia and Herzegovina citizen suspected of smuggling at least 251 illegal migrants from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Slovenia from March to June and of earning at least HRK 287,000 in the process.

The investigation has been launched following a criminal complaint by the Istria County police.

According to USKOK, the main suspect, a 38-year-old Croatian citizen, arranged with unknowns from Serbia and Turkey the reception of a larger number of foreigners who had entered Croatia illegally from Bosnia and Herzegovina and their transfer to the Slovenian border.

The illegal migrants were each charged at least €150 to be transferred to Slovenia, USKOK suspects.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

Monday, 25 April 2022

Croatia Has Taken in 15,550 Ukrainian Refugees

25 April 2022 - Croatia has taken in 15,550 refugees from war-torn Ukraine and 2,446 of them are currently located in Split-Dalmatia County, the head of the Civil Protection Directorate, Damir Trut, said in Split on Monday.

"So far, fewer than 10,000 people have applied for temporary protection and they have the right to education, accommodation, healthcare and other needs," Trut said after meeting with Split-Dalmatia County Prefect Blaženko Boban and local civil protection personnel included in organising the reception of refugees.

A Ukrainian doctor and psychologist are available to refugees, while unaccompanied children have been placed in foster care. According to the head of the local civil protection organisation, Srđan Kušćević, children are attending online classes.

Trut and Boban discussed options for the Ukrainian refugees who are currently staying in accommodation that is usually rented out during the tourist season.

Of the children staying in the county, 106 are attending elementary school, 7 are secondary-school students and 17 are attending kindergarten.

Elderly refugees are learning Croatian at the Centre for Life-Long Learning.

Split-Dalmatia County is "one of the few counties that has its own operations centre where all the information related to refugees can be obtained in one place thanks to the Red Cross," Boban said, adding that activities are also being prepared with the Ukrainian ambassador.

Tuesday, 12 April 2022

Pressure of Illegal Migrants on Croatia-BiH Border Decreasing

ZAGREB, 12 April 2022 - The number of illegal migrants trying to enter Croatia from Una-Sava Canton in the west of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been steadily decreasing as migrants have been looking for other routes to reach EU countries, according to estimates by government bodies and local police in west Bosnia.

According to police data, there are currently slightly more than 2,800 illegal migrants in that part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and they are mostly from African and Asian countries.

Around 850 of them are accommodated in three reception centres and slightly more than 1,800 are staying in makeshift accommodation in Bihać, Cazin and Velika Kladuša or in illegal camps along the border with Croatia.

UNA-Sana Canton ministry of the interior spokesman Adnan Beganović has confirmed to the Banja Luka-based Nezavisne Novine paper that local police still control roads leading to that part of the country to prevent the arrival of new migrants.

He said that that way in 2021 police prevented the arrival of around 17,000 migrants, which is why the number of those trying to reach Croatia along that route has been declining.

"Currently the number of migrants leaving Una-Sana Canton is higher than the number of migrants arriving here. Those who do not manage to cross the border into Croatia are returning to Sarajevo or Serbia and looking for another route to reach Western European countries," Beganović said.

Saturday, 2 April 2022

4 Montenegrins, Charged With Migrant Smuggling Across Croatia, Remanded in Custody

ZAGREB, 2 April 2022 - Four Montenegrins, who were arrested on Thursday while they were trying to smuggle Afghan migrants across Croatia, were on Saturday placed in custody after an investigating judge in Karlovac ordered their detention as they were a flight risk.

The four Montenegrin men, aged between 24 and 32, were charged with the illegal transport of migrants and with forgery of documents.

The suspects were nabbed by the Croatian police in the hamlet of Kukača in the morning of 31 March, while they were transporting irregular Afghan migrants on their way to west Europe.

The migrants were placed in the trunks of the two cars driven by the Montenegrins, and they were being transported in life-threatening conditions, being concealed in a small space without enough air to breathe, according to the report issued by the local prosecutor.

Friday, 4 March 2022

Non Government Organization Publishes Report on Expulsions of Migrants During COVID-19 Pandemic

ZAGREB, 4 March (2022) - The GONG nongovernmental organisation on Friday opened a three-day online conference "Open data against infodemic" on the occasion of the 9th Open Data Day, to promote the importance of publicly available, open data which the NGO describes as a valuable social resource.

GONG executive director Oriana Ivković Novokmet said the conference would include three panel discussions, one of which would focus on the coronavirus infection and disinformation during the pandemic.

Experts from the universities of Rijeka, Osijek and Dubrovnik will be discussing how false coronavirus information is spread and who the most influential disinformers are.

The second panel, entitled "Data only for the rich," deals with the availability of spatial data, environmental data and data on public companies.

Ivković Novokmet said the latest amendments to the Right to Access Information Act, seeking to align the law with the EU Open Data Directive, was a step backward in terms of access to information standards because data on public spending would require the proportionality and public interest tests in a whole set of cases. GONG also considers as disputable the fact that public companies that make their income on the market, like FINA or Zagreb Holding, would be able to charge for the use of their data.

The third panel, entitled "Who is paying you," deals with the financing of civil sector organisations, Ivković Novokmet said, recalling a "defamation campaign" against civil society organisations during the 2021 local elections.

The event will also include workshops, as well as a discussion on Croatian, Hungarian and Russian officials' real estate in Croatia and the financing of media by the state and local budgets.

Lana Podgoršek of the Code for Croatia civic hackers' group said the conference would provide an opportunity for citizens to ask about anything regarding open data, public procurement transparency, civic hacking and the group's community projects.

Code for Croatia is an initiative that brings together activists and programmers and everyone else interested in open data and socially useful community projects.

Podgoršek also presented the group's new project, called "Fix it," a portal where citizens can report any damage to public infrastructure.

The "Open data against infodemic" conference can be followed on GONG and Code for Croatia's YouTube channels and on GONG's Facebook account.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 26 February 2022

Croatian, Slovenian Unions of Migrant Workers Sign Agreement

ZAGREB, 26 Feb 2022 - Ana Horvat was elected president of the Croatian union of migrant workers in Varaždin on Saturday and the union also signed an agreement with the Slovenian union of migrant workers.

Horvat replaced Franjo Lazar, who tendered an irrevocable resignation, telling the press that one of the reasons was his failure to solve one of the biggest problems of Croatian migrant workers, double taxation.

He said the union sent nine proposals to the Finance Ministry a month ago but "received no reply, yet we proposed how to solve that more easily, less painfully."

Lazar said the union was established to keep young families in Croatia. People will emigrate from border counties, notably in northwestern Croatia, as well as from Istria, if double taxation continues, he added.

He said "every county interprets the double taxation agreement differently."

Asked if the government's incentive of HRK 200,000 could motivate Croatians working abroad to return to Croatia, Lazar said it could not and that in Austria they could make that in net pay in ten months.

The union's new president said Slovenians working abroad had similar problems and that this was why an agreement was signed with their union.

"They have managed to solve parts of that. We are continuing, we are not giving up and are working to achieve the best conditions possible for the people who work abroad," said Horvat.

The Slovenian union was established in 2016, its president Mario Fekonja said, adding that by working together the two unions will be able to show Europe the extent of their problems more easily.

"One of the fundamental postulates of the European Union is the free flow of labour and capital, which the financial administrations of Slovenia and Croatia, with their behaviour, deny us," he said, adding that both "operate illegally and arbitrarily."

Our priority is for all tax offices at national level to act equally and in line with the law, Fekonja said.

Sunday, 23 January 2022

Migrant Workers' Trade Union Accuses Tax Offices of Malpractice

ZAGREB, 23 Jan 2022 - On Sunday, the Croatian Trade Union of Migrant Workers, whose Croatian acronym is HSRM, accused local tax offices of malpractice and miscalculations in tax returns, claiming that such cases of negligence amount to violations of double tax avoidance agreements.

The HSRM says that it has come to this conclusion based on the findings made by its legal experts who analyzed cases of migrant workers whose tax returns were miscalculated.

The union issued a press release signed by union leader Franjo Lazar, stating that the state-level tax administration seems to be ignorant of cases of malpractice.

The union calls on its members to wait for some time before submitting their tax returns to the relevant authorities as negotiations are being conducted with the Finance Ministry, regarding the nine requests presented by the union with the purpose to improve the status of migrant workers.

According to the HSRM, an estimated 20,000 migrant workers come back to Croatia weekly or monthly and bring up to a half-billion euros annually.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Saturday, 23 October 2021

EU Citizens Opposed to Violence Against Illegal Migrants

ZAGREB, 23 Oct, 2021 - EU citizens want illegal migrants arriving at EU borders to be treated more humanely, and on Saturday they called in the European Parliament on politicians to really help people in migrants' countries of origin to reduce their influx.

The European Parliament on Saturday started a plenary at which 80 EU citizens were presenting conclusions of discussions on different topics held by 800 randomly chosen citizens in September and October.

"Citizens are worried about illegal migrations so our working group discussed that topic more than labour migration between the member states," Croatian pensioner Dajana Milinković said in a public address.

Migrations should be destigmatised, human rights respected

Milinković was speaking on behalf of 200 European citizens who discussed the topic of migrations and the EU in the world. Participating in the discussions was another Croatian pensioner, Dragan Volarević from Zadar, who was also presenting conclusions of that citizens' working group on Saturday.

"One should tackle the real causes of migrations and find ways and funds to help people stay in their countries of origin, by helping them financially and otherwise," Milinković added.

She advocated legal migrations.

"There will be less illegal migration if we establish good programmes of legal migration. That is what the EU lacks with regard to 'third world' countries," she said.

Citizens across the EU feel that they have no influence on decision-making processes, which is why euro-skepticism has been on the rise so the three main EU institutions - the European Commission, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament - have launched a series of discussions called the Conference on the Future of Europe.

"Citizens have asked to be more involved instead of just being called to go to the polls every five years, so this is our answer to their wish," European Commissioner for Democracy and Demography Dubravka Šuica said on Saturday.

Randomly chosen citizens who were invited in October to discuss migrations and the EU in the world have told politicians that they do not want violence against migrants such as that recorded on the Croatian border.

"Migrants' human rights need to be respected. They are humans too and we need to respect them," said Milinković, who comes from the northern Adriatic town of Umag.

Her speech in the European Parliament was welcomed by a round of loud applause.

Earlier this month, media broadcast footage of masked Croatian police officers clubbing migrants who had tried to enter Croatia from Bosnia and Herzegovina through a forest.

Wishing to lead the country into the Schengen area of passport-free movement, the Croatian government has been trying to convince the European Commission that it is capable of protecting the joint border. Similar reports of brutality by Croatian police have been arriving for months.

The Greek and Romanian governments have also been criticised in recent months over police conduct towards migrants.

"Migrations need to be destigmatised. They should be accepted as a fact," Milinković said.

"European countries need voluntary, legal migrants. That is why they need to be provided with better education in the countries they come from," she said.

Croatia not participating in refugee scholarship programme

Officials from the foreign ministries of 42 countries-members of the Union for the Mediterranean met in Barcelona this past Thursday to discuss the inclusion of refugees in the recipient-countries' education systems.

The talks focused on a project as part of which 300 refugees, mostly from Syria, will be granted university scholarships.

The three-year project so far has been joined by 10 of the 42 countries of the Union for the Mediterranean but Croatia is not among them.

A spokesperson for the Union has said that the aim is for as many countries as possible to join in and to extend the project.

A Croatian government official, however, told Hina: "That's it as far as the project is concerned. Those who wanted to participate have joined in."

Involved in the project are currently Poland, Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Morocco. The initiative for the project was launched by Portugal where refugees staying there have already enrolled at universities.

The funds for the education of refugees would be raised through donations by foundations, solidary taxation of the academic community, and risk capital fund investments in talented students.

For Croatia's latest news, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 8 October 2021

Božinović Says Police Officers Were Involved in Violence Against Migrants

ZAGREB, 8 Oct 2021 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Friday that police officers were involved in violence against migrants on the Bosnian border, which was reported by Croatian and European media earlier this week.

"The police director, as soon as he saw the footage, sent an expert team which worked very intensively and as far as I know at the moment, they established that those were police officers," he told Croatian reporters in Luxembourg, where he is attending a meeting of EU interior ministers.

Božinović said he assumed it was "some individual offence by several police officers," adding that the police director was expected to provide more details today.

On Wednesday evening, a number of European media outlets showed disturbing footage of a migrant pushback on Croatian territory. The footage shows men, wearing balaclavas and clothes similar to those of Croatian police, pushing migrants across a backwater of the Korana river towards Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In doing so, the men were hitting the migrants with batons such as those used by Croatian riot police and some wore vests like those worn by that unit.

According to the media, the footage was taken in June as part of an investigation by a number of European media outlets.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 7 October 2021

PM Expects Report From All Relevant Services On Violent Pushbacks of Migrants

ZAGREB, 7 Oct 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday he had talked with Interior Minister Davor Božinović about violent pushbacks of migrants from the Croatian border with Bosnia and Herzegovina and expected a report from all relevant services to see what had actually happened. 

"Last night I immediately called Minister Božinović to ensure that the Ministry and police take all the necessary measures and investigate the matter so that we see what happened and take appropriate decisions, because Croatia, as a country governed by the rule of law, respects its own laws and international rules. We do not want any actions that might be connected with the state and that are not in accordance with our legal system," Plenković said at a cabinet meeting.

"We have a duty to protect our border and prevent illegal migration. We appreciate the role of the Croatian police in protecting the border in the last few years after our continent has become a destination for migrations, which are often illegal and led and organized by smugglers who benefit from the misfortunes of many people who for various reasons left their homes," he added.

Likewise, We Can! party on Thursday described the treatment of migrants as shown by footage of violence on the border as unacceptable, calling on the police management to leave border protection to somebody else if they were not up to the task.

Footage of masked police beating migrants at the border. (

The latest footage of violence against refugees and migrants on our borders reveals serious problems in the way the Ministry of the Interior is dealing with the challenges of migration, the opposition party said in a Facebook post, thus joining in numerous reactions to videos showing the brutal beating of migrants on the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"If the current police leadership is not up to the task, it is time other people assumed the responsibility of protecting the border. The current approach to migrations is unacceptable and we once again support all police employees who do not agree with it and who have been warning about it for some time," the party said, recalling that it had warned on a number of occasions that the border can be protected without the use of violence and violation of human rights.

"The latest footage proves that we either have organized groups of thugs who beat refugees or police who remove their insignia and use force and beatings to drive people out of Croatia. Either means a defeat of the idea of a law-based state and human rights protection."

Božinović either denying the problem or announcing probes without an epilogue

The party went on to say that the Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović was "either denying the problem or announcing investigations without an epilogue."

It called on the minister and the prime minister to clearly say what was going on, who was responsible, and why they had not prevented the criminal activity on the border.

Minister Božinović said earlier today that an investigation had been launched to establish if the footage broadcast was authentic, noting that there was no tolerance to violence in the police.

Asked by reporters if he, too, was responsible if it turned out that the footage was authentic, Božinović said, "Why should I be personally responsible?"

He added that nobody had been given an order to use force, except in cases defined by the law, and that most situations on the border did not warrant such conduct.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Page 1 of 4