Authorities in northwestern Bosnia-Herzegovina say they will start recording injuries sustained by migrants after 18 of them were allegedly beaten by Croatian police near the two countries' border.
Una Sana Canton’s Health Minister Nermina Cemalovic made the announcement to RFE/RL on August 8, a day after 14 Pakistanis and four Iraqis were found with signs of physical trauma while trying to illegally cross the border into EU-member Croatia.
Bosnian media and a Croatian refugee assistance center said they were beaten by Croatian police, an allegation that Zagreb authorities deny.
All 18 migrants were subsequently taken to a local hospital where director Evresa Okanovic said they had injuries in the form of "swelling, hematoma, and bruises in the back, legs, arms, and shoulders."
None were diagnosed with head injuries, Okanovic said.
The incident follows allegations by Amnesty International and other human rights groups that Croatian security personnel have beaten, robbed, and violently forced migrants back into Bosnia after crossing the border in hopes of making their way into the European Union.
Bosnian officials have complained that armed Croatian police have illegally crossed the border into Bosnia while forcing the migrants back.
The Croatian police says that force is applied within the bounds of law and done humanely.
'Thousands Of Other Testimonies'
In a statement, Croatia’s Interior Ministry admitted that Croatian police "deterred" 18 adult men from illegally crossing the border near Buhaca, close to the border.
However, it denied that they were treated with brutality or excessive force.
A Croatian government spokesman in Zagreb said the incident was being investigated.
Milena Zajovic of the Zagreb-based refugee assistance center Are You Syrious told RFE/RL that she "doubts" the Croatian version of events, saying it is isn't "consistent with the thousands of other testimonies that speak of violent and illegal expulsion" of migrants.
Thousands of migrants and refugees have entered Bosnia so far this year in attempts to move through the country and on to Western Europe.
Croatia has closed its borders to migrants, as have fellow EU members Hungary and Slovenia.
Authorities report that some 5,000 migrants, mainly from the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia, are camped out in northwest Bosnia hoping to continue westward into Croatia.
Bosnian police estimate some 15,000 others have already managed to continue onwards this year, despite the intensified police presence on the Croatian side of the border.