ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — The Council of Europe’s committee on torture harshly criticized Croatia Friday over reports of “severe ill-treatment” of migrants crossing into the country and urged the country’s authorities to take immediate action to stop the practice.
The report by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, or CPT, said its delegation encountered problems in cooperation, and obstruction during a visit in Aug. 2020.
European Union member Croatia has repeatedly denied allegations of systematic abuse of migrants trying to enter from Bosnia. But President Zoran Milanovic on Friday said that “police sometimes have to use force.”
“How else can the Republic of Croatia protect its border?” Milanovic said, according to regional N1 television.
The CPT report said its forensic medical findings found injuries “indisputably compatible” with police ill-treatment, including some which could only have been sustained as a result of truncheon or stick blows.
The Council of Europe is Europe’s main rights watchdog that is based in France and separate from the EU.
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.”