Bosnia to probe alleged police brutality in migrant camp

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) β€” Bosnian authorities will hold an internal investigation into police conduct at a U.N.-run migrant camp in the country after a video emerged this week allegedly showing a group of police savagely beating a camp resident.

In a statement Friday, the United Nations resident office in Bosnia welcomed the announcement, saying Bosnian authorities must β€œat all times abide by local laws as well as international human rights norms and standards.”

The U.N. had previously requested an immediate investigation of the incident which allegedly occurred earlier this month at the Miral camp, in the northwestern city of Velika Kladusa. Local police initially dismissed accusations of brutality, saying they were called to the camp to pacify a hostile, stone-throwing crowd during a protest by migrants over movement restrictions due to the pandemic.

The 30-second video uploaded on YouTube and shared by various Balkan news outlets allegedly showed a group of police approaching a random migrant in an apparently peaceful section of the camp and hitting the young man with fists and batons.

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Bosnian authorities have recently grown increasingly hostile to thousands of migrants trapped in the country, with security minister Fahrudin Radonicic proposing in April to start deporting them en masse. Many migrants enter Bosnia illegally in hope of continuing their journey towards Europe’s prosperous heartland through neighboring Croatia, a European Union member.

The U.N. migration organization, IOM, which manages all temporary migrant accommodation centers in Bosnia, has been reporting serious overcrowding since mid-March when police started rounding up migrants who had been sleeping rough in the streets and driving them to its facilities.

Authorities said at the time they had to move migrants off the streets as part of measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Migrants who have since not been allowed to leave the camps, not even to go to a shop, say authorities are unjustly depriving them of their freedom.

IOM camps in Bosnia currently house 6,200 people, or nearly 20% more than before the advent of the pandemic in the country in mid-March.

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