Reaction of JRS Croatia on the publication of Lighthouse Reports
As an international Catholic organization that promotes human dignity and the fundamental rights of all persons, especially refugees and migrants, we are saddened and shocked reading the findings published today by the investigative newsroom Lighthouse Report, that once again drew attention to the mistreatment of migrants at Croatia’s borders. The discovery of a police WhatsApp group exposes the models of police behavior towards people passing through our territory. In such group, high-ranking police officers exchanged messages about migrants, as well as journalists who reported on them, informing, encouraging, and congratulating each other on actions that represent violations of human rights and are contrary to Croatian, European and international laws.
We hope that this discovery will have a cathartic effect and contribute to change the way migrants are approached. We believe that this should be taken as an opportunity to develop a culture of responsibility in our country, and we expect that the authorities will initiate a thorough and transparent investigation on these facts and that appropriate steps will be taken towards those responsible for illegal actions. In addition, this case also shows that the strategy of multiple returns of migrants to Bosnia and Herzegovina does not reduce their arrivals, nor does it represent the protection of Croatian territory. Therefore, it would be responsible to look for new modalities of dealing with the phenomenon of contemporary migrations. As an organization that operates in 57 countries around the world and has rich experience of cooperation with state bodies in solving crisis situations, we regret that Croatia does not use the capacities that JRS and the Catholic Church have. Currently, for example, we are one of the few EU countries where we are not allowed to operate in the center for asylum seekers, nor in the detention centers. We hope that this case will be a turning point and contribute to a more serious state approach to this phenomenon.
Statement originally published by JRS Croatia. You can read the statement in Croatian here.