European Court: Croatian police guilty in Madina death case

After an exhausting journey in November 2017, 6-year-old Madina Hussiny and her Afghan family reached the Serbian-Croatian border. They wanted to apply for asylum in Croatia, as was their right under European law. However, the Croatian police sent them back towards Serbia in the dark along a railway track, where Madina was struck by a passing train and died. The European Court ruled that the Croatian police are guilty of her death.

Partner organisations file case

Madina’s case was supported by two of DCR’s partner organisations: the Center for Peace Studies and Are You Syrious. Croatian authorities tried to intimidate these organisations to ensure that the case would not be heard in Strasbourg.

‘Our employees are actively persecuted and one of our volunteers was even given a prison sentence,’ explains Milena Zajović of Are You Syrious and the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN). ‘It was alleged that he helped Madina’s family cross the border illegally, but he had never even been in contact with them.’

Right to asylum application denied

Madina’s death is a tragic example of the pushbacks that regularly occur along the borders of Greece, Croatia and Poland. Asylum seekers are often violently repelled from Europe’s borders before they can exercise their legal right to apply for asylum.

In mid-2021, The Guardian reported that member states have illegally pushed back more than 40,000 refugees and migrants since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Aid and human rights organisations such as our partners at the BVMN have documented thousands of these cases.

What we do

It has been known for years that refugees are violently driven away along Europe’s borders. However, nothing has changed and, in fact, it seems to be getting worse. We work with local refugee organisations in other European countries to stand up for the rights of refugees, and we advocate for action from the Dutch cabinet towards the European Commission.

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