More than 60,000 illegal migrants have crossed Bosnia and Herzegovina from early 2018 to the end of 2019 en route to Western Europe, increasing the number of cases of human smuggling, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) reported.
Referring to Bosnian Border Police data, BIRN points out that there were 80 smugglers seized for illegal migrant trafficking in 2019 (22 foreigners, 9 of whom were Serbian citizens) and 70 in 2018.
Based on these complaints, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s prosecutor’s office has indicted 46 people, ten fewer than 2018.
Forty-seven people charged in the last two years have been found guilty.
Most of the defendants pleaded guilty, which is why the sentences ranged in most cases from probation to a maximum of three years in prison.
The Pakistani citizen Usman-Ali Maqsood-Ahmed, the organizer of one of the trafficking channels received the longest sentence, as well as a fine of about EUR 4,000.
In 2018, his group illegally transferred at least 46 citizens of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria and India, from which they earned at least 35,000 euros.
Usman-Ali Maqsood-Ahmed have been falsely introducing himself as a migrant to BiH, offering to citizens from those countries a transfer from the border with Serbia through Bosnia and Herzegovina to the border with Croatia.
At the same time, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic (08.01) said his government would never put up barbed wire on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina to stop illegal migrants because there are natural obstacles and that would be a bad political message to the neighboring country.
“Some of our neighboring EU Member States have put up physical barricades and barbed wire. We did not choose this because we have natural barriers such as the Danube and Sava Rivers, mountains and forests”, Plenkovic replied to a Dutch journalist’s question on migration policy, which Croatia will advocate during the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Plenkovic added that Croats live on both sides of the BiH border, and as prime minister, he would never build a barrier between Croats.
According to him, it is necessary to stop illegal migration and to reform the Dublin Regulation, adding that migration is the issue that has changed Europe’s political mood the most since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
A New York Times journalist asked whether a country accused of beating and shooting at migrants, stealing from them and returning them from Zagreb to BiH could propose a reform of migration policy, to which Plenkovic responded that these were allegations, not facts and that “Croatia chose to invest in police capabilities instead of barbed wire. We are considering every humanitarian aspect. We have no evidence of what you are saying, except for two shooting incidents that occured by accident on Croatian territory. But that was accidental, and it was not the official Croatian policy or the intention of the Croatian police”, Plenkovic added.