Profiling in the Corridor
Shortly after the long summer of migration in 2015 and the establishment of state-tolerated or organized transit of refugees to central EU countries, countries along the Balkan corridor started to perform refugee selection as they distinguished “refugees from economic migrants”, a practice sometimes even officially called profiling in Croatia. According to reports from organizations present in the field, the profiling in the camp in Slavonski Brod started on 18 November 2015, when 110 people, mostly men from countries such as Lebanon, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Morocco, Somalia and the Ivory Coast were singled out and prevented from boarding the next train for Slovenia. On the other hand, the profiling started a few days earlier in Slovenia, when the police in the camp in Dobova singled out 71 men from Morocco and sent them to detention in Postojna (cf. Hameršak and Pleše 2018: 21).
When it was introduced, profiling implied the exclusion of anyone who does not come from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq (cf. SIA), but over time it became more and more restrictive. The heads of police services of Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia held a joint meeting in February 2016 and concluded that “the migration flow along the Western Balkans route has to be reduced to the greatest possible extent”. Afterwards, people from Afghanistan were also no longer allowed to move through the corridor. In practice, profiling relied on selection according to available documents, country, region or place of origin or transit, appearance and skin color, linguistic and geographic ad hoc testing, loaded exclusionary questions, intimidation and violence (Banich et al. 2016a and 2016b). As a result of this increasingly rigorous and, at the same time, highly improvised selection of people, more and more refugees moved along the counter-corridor, while the number of people moving along the corridor to the west continuously decreased, thus creating the conditions for halting that direction of movement without major incidents (cf. Beznec et al. 2016: 49). Profiling, in addition, led to the separation of families or stratification among refugees. Filtering based on countries of origin generated a hierarchization of refugees and internal polarization among those who traveled along the corridor, dividing them into “us, the real refugees and others”, a sentiment expressed by young man from Syria in the camp in Slavonski Brod, interjecting while we spoke with another young man from Afghanistan.
Banich, Selma, Lukas Gerbig and Adrienne Homberger. 2016a. Report on Systemic Police Violence and Push-Backs against Non-SIA People Conducted by Croatian Authorities.
Banich, Selma, Sunčica Brnardić, Marijana Hameršak, Sara Kekuš, Iva Marčetić, Mojca Piškor and Magda Sindičić. 2016b. Izvješće o sustavnom kršenju ljudskih prava u zatvorenim dijelovima Zimskog prihvatno-tranzitnog centra u Slavonskom Brodu, od strane hrvatskih vlasti.
Beznec, Barbara, Marc Speer i Marta Stojić Mitrović. 2016. Governing the Balkan Route. Macedonia, Serbia and European Border Regime. Beograd: Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Southeast Europe.
Hameršak, Marijana and Iva Pleše. 2018. "Confined in Movement. The Croatian Section of the Balkan Corridor". In Formation and Disintegration of the Balkan Refugee Corridor. Camps, Routes and Borders in Croatian Context. Emina Bužinkić and Marijana Hameršak, eds. Zagreb and München: Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research, Centre for Peace Studies, Faculty of Political Science University of Zagreb – Centre for Ethnicity, Citizenship and Migration, bordermonitoring.eu e.V., 9-41.