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In monitoring the work of the Bogovađa Asylum Center, the Protector of Citizens determined that the number of security guards in the Center was not sufficient to maintain security during major riots such as the one of 17 December 2020, and that most of migrants, who participated in the riots emerged after an employee of Commissariat for Refugees and Migration was forced to kiss a religious rites mat, were transferred to Preševo Reception Center.

During the 28 December 2020 monitoring, the representatives of the Emergency Response Department of the Protector of Citizens determined that the premises and facilities used by the Asylum Center in Bogovađa are owned by the Serbian Red Cross, an organization that engaged the private company "Dekapolit" to guard the center’s facilities.

As stated by Ms. Marija Kerekeš Ristić, the acting manager of the Center, the security hired by the Red Cross of Serbia was not sufficient to grant the safety during the riots such as the one of 17 December 2020 with one member of the security present during the day and two of them during the night.

Ms. Milena Ribać, another acting manager who runs the center on a weekly basis, explained that the incident had occurred on 17 December 2020, when a worker, while collecting dirty blankets and distributing clean ones with a security guard, had accidentally stepped on a prayer mat.

Bogovađa Asylum Center representatives reported that feeling threatened, the workers left the building and headed for the building used by the Commissariat staff, but the migrants followed them, surrounded them and started throwing various items at them, and then started banging on the windows of the administration building. The employees immediately called the police, but at first only one patrol came with two police officers, several patrols arriving much later.

The Protector of Citizens determined that the migrants had requested the worker to leave the Center and apologize, which she had done, and then they had asked her to kiss their prayer mat, which she had also done, but the situation had not calmed down, they had already asked for an apology from the security workers, threatening to go inside with poles and kill them all if they did not receive an apology.

The security guard apologized to the migrants in English, but refused to kiss the mat. When a larger number of police officers arrived, who encircled the Center, the migrants started praying in front of the administrative building and then withdrew to the building where they were accommodated and started breaking things there.

At around 5 pm that day, two buses of the Commissariat arrived from Šid, and the employees then singled out the youngest migrants and those they knew did not take part in the riots. The rest, 79 of them, were transferred to the Center in Preševo, so 95 underage migrants are accommodated currently in the Asylum Center in Bogovađa.

Upon learning from the media that a group of migrants in that center forced an employee to kiss a rug used for performing their religious rite, on 24 December 2020, the Protector of Citizens initiated an investigation to control the Commissariat’s work in order to determine all the circumstances regarding this case and the level of security in that Center.


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