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Three-year-old among refugees ‘put into cages’ at Bosnian detention centre

'Is this the standard and a collective decision to treat and detain currently the most vulnerable group in the planet, refugees?' 

Zamira Rahim
Tuesday 23 April 2019 19:45 BST
Refugees put in cages by Bosnian officials prompts uproar

A three-year-old child was reportedly among 12 refugees filmed locked in cages at a Bosnian detention centre.

The two Iraqi families of seven adults and five children were held at a facility near the eastern European country's Klobuk border crossing.

They can be seen lying in small cells, which have walls built of wire mesh.

One of the detainees filmed the video and sent it to Are You Syrious (AYS), a pro-migrant charity, which released the clip publicly.

“There were reportedly 7 adults and 5 children among the detained people,” a spokesperson said.

People who cross into Bosnia from Montenegro at Klobuk are held at the detention block, if they are found to be entering illegally.

The refugees are held there pending deportation. The Iraqi group were detained on Monday.

Border officials denied mistreating the refugees and claimed that the wire mesh cells had air-conditioning and heating.

Bosnia-Herzegovina border police deny inhuman treatment of migrants in its facility at the Klobuk border crossing,” the force said in a statement.

A spokesperson added that the cages had not been locked.

Border police said they stayed at the facility for two hours before Montenegrin police took them into custody.

But AYS claimed that the refugees were held overnight at the facility.

 ”Is this the standard and a collective decision to treat and detain currently the most vulnerable group in the planet, refugees?” the group wrote in a post on the Medium website. “Will anyone finally bring into question and condemn the methods and current human rights breaking detention and push back practice?”

After European Union (EU) countries such as Hungary and Croatia closed their borders to refugees, people have found new routes to travel to Western Europe.

Bosnia has become a key country on the route since January 2018.

The Klobuk border crossing is in Bosnia’s southern region but activists have frequently criticised the behaviour of Croation police towards refugees at the country’s northwestern borders.

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“Two small towns in the country’s far northwestern corner, Bihać and Velika Kladuša, have become a refuge for thousands of people fleeing conflict, persecution and poverty,” an Amnesty International report, published last month, concluded.

It added that 24,000 people entered Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018. They were reportedly held in improvised accommodation centres which were set up with EU funding.

“The conditions in the centers are inadequate,” Amnesty International said. “In addition to safety concerns, the people who spoke to Amnesty International complained about the poor hygiene, lack of hot water, long queues for meals and inaccessible medical care.”

Activists now say that more mistreatment cases at Bosnia’s southern borders are being reported.

Additional reporting by agencies

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