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THE Council of Europe slammed Croatia today for its brutal treatment of refugees — including throwing them with bound hands into the river that marks the EU’s border with Bosnia.
The finding highlights the human misery created by “Fortress Europe” just a day after the European Union slapped new sanctions on Belarus over a standoff over refugees seeking to enter the EU via Poland.
The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), a body established by the Council of Europe which is unrelated to the EU, said Croatia needed to take immediate action to stop the brutality.
Based on a visit last year, the CPT found injuries on migrants “indisputably compatible” with police ill treatment, including some which could only have been sustained as a result of truncheon or stick blows.
And it listed reports that migrants had been “forced to march through the forest to the border barefoot and ... thrown with their hands still zip-locked into the Korana river.”
Some migrants said they were pushed back in underwear or naked, while “a number of persons stated that when they had been apprehended and were lying face down on the ground, certain Croatian police officers had discharged their weapons into the ground close to them.”
Amnesty International hailed the report, saying it confirmed earlier ones by rights groups. It criticised the European Commission for not holding Croatia accountable.
The report highlighted other transgressions, including migrants’ “transportation in cramped and unsafe conditions, ignoring their asylum requests and denying them access to the fundamental safeguards to which they are legally entitled.”
But Croatian President Zoran Milanovic shrugged that “police sometimes have to use force.
“How else can the Republic of Croatia protect the border?”
The report follows an EU summit at which the Commission proposed weakening refugee protections for anyone entering the bloc via Belarus.
It said current rules specifying asylum requests should be registered within 10 days could be amended up to four weeks, while Lithuania, Poland and Latvia could be permitted not to apply rules specifying the conditions in which asylum-seekers should be housed, instead holding them in makeshift border detention centres for up to 16 weeks.
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