Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Croatia MUP: Deported Nigerians are Lying According to Police

Croatia MUP representatives released a statement today regarding the Nigerian students who had reported to the Bosnian portal Žurnal that they were arrested by Croatian police in Zagreb, forcibly taken to Bosnian border and then left there.

Police Claim They Didn’t Act on Skin Color

Croatian police have dismissed those allegations, according to their statement as reported by Index on December 4, 2019.

"Claims that Croatian police acts and condemns individuals on the basis of their skin color are unacceptable and we strongly reject them! The police have verified the accusations of the alleged treatment of the Nigerian nationals in Zagreb on November 17. On November 18, they properly checked out of their hostel in Zagreb with their documents and left," they claim.

The police also announced what they have learned about the case so far.

"The Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Croatia have reviewed the allegations made publicly on the Bosnian portal Žurnal, and have determined the following through their research:

- On November 12, five Nigerian nationals entered Croatia, legally and according to proper procedures, to participate in an inter-university competition in Pula. The group consisted of a team leader and four participants.

"The team leader and one participant legally left the Republic of Croatia via the Zagreb Airport, after competing," MUP reported.

Conflicting Accounts of Documents Loss and Dates

Police also say Nigerians checked out of the hostel a day later than they were allegedly expelled from the Republic of Croatia.

"The two Nigerian nationals, who are being mentioned in the Bosnian media, left for Zagreb a day earlier than the rest of the group, and stayed in Zagreb. Therefore, they checked into the Zagreb hostel on November 16 of this year. On November 18, they checked out of their hostel and went to an unknown destination, after paying their expenses and taking their travel documents and personal effects with them.

Therefore, its entirely inaccurate, and we reject the allegation that their documents remained in the hostel, and that police officers of the Zagreb Police Department had acted inappropriately against them. We call attention to the contradictions in their statements and their allegations about how the police officers allegedly dealt with them on November 17. The fact is that they appropriately checked out of their Zagreb hostel on November 18 (a day later). The police had no record their legal departure from the Republic of Croatia, nor did police officers working in the field of illegal migration deal with people with these names," MUP added.

Fifth Participant Tried to Enter Slovenia Twice

MUP also wrote about the group's fifth participant, whose visa expired while he was in Croatia. He received a judgement to leave the European Economic Area (EEA) within 14 days.

"Regarding the fifth participant in the group, it was determined that he left his accommodation in Pula on November 17 of this year. He tried to leave the Republic of Croatia and enter Slovenia at two separate border crossings. On both occasions, Slovenian border police officers denied him entry because he does not possess a Schengen visa. Following these two attempts to cross the border, the Nigerian national arrived at the Central Zagreb Police Station on November 18 and reported the loss of his travel documents. He was offered the option to contact his embassy ​​but refused.

Then He Applied for Asylum in Croatia

Given that his visa had expired on 17 November of this year, he was issued a judgement to leave the European Economic Area (EEA) within 14 days, following an administrative procedure. However, the Nigerian citizen did not leave Croatia, but returned to the Central Police Station in Zagreb on November 27th and expressed his intention to seek international protection in the Republic of Croatia. He was granted protection status and is currently in the Asylum Seekers' Asylum Reception Center in Zagreb. It is important to note that, on this occasion, he presented the travel document which he had previously reported lost," they added.

Police claim that third-country foreign nationals are using legal entry into the Republic of Croatia to attempt to move further to the EU after participating in the activities for which the permits were obtained.

Using Sports Competitions to Enter EU Illegally

"All of the Nigerian nationals had their return tickets for November 17 of this year. Two of them used their air tickets and left Croatia on that day, while the remaining three missed their opportunity to leave Croatia legally. This fact casts real doubt on the intent of their arrival and stay in Croatia.

Police officers had been encountering abuses of alleged and real participation in sports competitions in Croatia during their elevated campaign in the fight against illegal migration. Entering Croatia legally and participating in an approved sports activity is one way for foreign nationals from third countries to continue their journey illegally to their target destination countries in Europe.

The Republic of Croatia has refused entry to nine Nigerian nationals at border crossing this year due to non-compliance with conditions for entry.

Police officers will continue to investigate the allegations and review available facts in this case to determine whether this is another case of abuse of sports competitions for the purpose of illegal migration," MUP concluded.

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