The Jesuit Refugee Service, in accordance with its mission of accompanying, serving and advocating for refugees, considers it necessary to react and inform the Croatian public of potential irregularities regarding the procedures of deciding on international protection of persons who have requested protection in the Republic of Croatia.
For several months now the Jesuit Refugee Service, through its daily work and encounters with asylum seekers at the Reception Centre for International Protection Claims in Zagreb and Kutina, received from refugees numerous complaints and suspicions regarding the procedure for deciding on requests for international protection in the Republic of Croatia. The justification of their suspicions is supported by the fact that a significant number of persons received a negative decision on a request for international protection with identical explanation. According to the security assessment of asylum seekers conducted by the Security Intelligence Agency (SOA) and then referred to the Ministry of Interior (MoI), which is responsible for the proceedings, it is concluded that refugees – people with disabilities, older women as well as single parents with children from war afflicted areas pose a threat to the national security of the Republic of Croatia. Furthermore, reading the MOI’s request for international protection it explicitly states that there is a realistic and direct risk that those asylum seekers, if they were to return to their country, would be subjected to a serious threat of death and persecution, thus recognizing all formal conditions for the approval of international protection in the Republic of Croatia. The Jesuit Refugee Service does not imply questioning the need for the state to carry out security checks on individual foreigners in order to protect their own national security. At the same time, we are questioning the decisions to the requests from the most vulnerable refugee groups seeking peace, protection and security, which requests are denied due to security reasons and without any explanation. For example, SOA views a single father of 64 and a 14-year-old son who escaped from Aleppo as Christians as a threat to national security. Finally, since the asylum seeker and his attorney cannot get an insight into SOA’s opinion, international protection seekers cannot defend or dispute the alleged reasons for posing an alleged threat.
“It is clear that in all of Europe, not only in Croatia, political institutions are creating and encouraging an anti-immigrant mood and working intensively on the restriction of the European asylum system. The era of solidarity with refugees has come to an end. The problem here is, among other things, that refugees are coming from war-affected areas such as Syria or Iraq, people with severe disabilities, older and sick people, and single parents with children. These are all people for whom Croatia is responsible for by Croatian law, international law, but also morally. That is why we will continue to advocate the transparency of decision-making on international protection and the right of refugees to security and protection.” It was emphasized by Tvrtko Barun, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service.