Czech Republic steps up security in connection with terrorist attacks and migrant crisis

Badeort Sousse (Foto: ČTK)

Heightened security measures are in place at Czech airports, railway stations, foreign embassies and other key institutions in the wake of Friday’s terrorist attacks in France, Kuwait and Tunisia. A meeting of the country’s National Security Council on Sunday night assessed potential threats to the country’s security and measures to deal with the ongoing migrant crisis.

Tunisia,  photo: ČTK
Like other countries in Europe the Czech Republic stepped up security at key institutions around the country in the wake of Friday’s deadly terrorist attacks. While the country’s intelligence services reported no immediate threat to the Czech Republic, the strict security measures effected on Friday will remain in place until further notice. The Czech Foreign Ministry has also urged tourists travelling to Tunisia to exercise extreme caution.

Special measures have also been enforced in connection with the growing number of illegal migrants on Czech territory. Since the beginning of this year the authorities have detained 2,500 illegal migrants, 40 percent increase on last year and with every passing month their numbers have been growing. The vast majority are from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan and are using the country as a transit destination on their way to Western Europe, predominantly Germany. The pressure on the country’s police and asylum facilities has been mounting by the day and the government is preparing for a scenario whereby the country could take in several hundred –possibly up to a thousand migrants to help alleviate the pressure on Italy and Greece.

Bohuslav Sobotka,  foto: ČTK
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Sunday the country must be prepared both for the responsibility of taking in several hundred migrants legally and a likely worsening of the situation with the flow of illegal migrants in connection with Greece’s financial problems. The police, he said, could not be expected to handle the pressure alone.

“We will need to have a network of people on standby in the event of an emergency –customs officials, prison security guards, and, as a last resort, the army. The police will have to say at what point they will need help in dealing with the flow of illegal migrants.”

At present these plans are merely on paper. Right now the authorities are detaining on average 15 illegal migrants a day. Should their numbers double, special measures will be taken to boost security along the country’s borders with Slovakia and Austria. Already police are patrolling the country’s main road and rail connections from east to west, checking IDs on international buses and trains. Should the situation worsen, police offers from other regions would be called on as re-enforcements.

Photo: ČTK
Another problem is the country’s limited asylum facilities which can only house around 700 people. At present there are some 300 vacant beds in these facilities and the government is looking around for a new site that would fulfill the necessary requirements. A facility in Vyšní Lhoty, north Moravia will most likely be put into service. It would provide up to 600 new beds and would be divided into a refugee camp for those waiting to be deported and those who have filed for asylum in the Czech Republic.

Meanwhile, the government is already considering the financial impact of the refugee crisis both in terms of facilities, specialists and more officers in the field. The police president has asked for an additional ten billion crowns which would enable the force to increase its riot and foreigner police