Czechia and its neighbours extending spot border checks against illegal migration
Czechia, Poland, Austria and Slovakia have announced they are extending the spot border checks introduced on October 4, by another 20 days. The measure, intended to curb the flow of illegal migrants along the Western Balkans route, has proved successful.
The traffic of illegal migrants along the Western Balkans route fluctuates in the course of the year and the countries that serve as transit states to the ultimate destination –Germany - respond in unison according to the gravity of the problem. Last year Czechia introduced spot border checks at the end of September and they lasted until the beginning of February.
This year they were introduced on October 4 –along with other states in the region -for a starting period of 10 days. On Wednesday, Interior Minister Vít Rakušan announced that they would remain in place for the time being.
“The Czech government has decided to maintain spot checks on the country’s border with Slovakia for another 20 days. This is in line with decisions made by the Polish, Austrian and Slovak governments, which have also extended random checks for the same period. They will remain in place until November 2.“
The Schengen Borders Code allows member states to temporarily introduce border control in the event of a serious threat to internal security. However, the scope and duration of the border control should be restricted to the bare minimum needed to respond to the threat in question.
This explains why the border checks introduced by the Schengen member states are introduced for a short period and revised, depending on the circumstances. Their introduction inevitably has a domino effect – with countries on the migration path needing to consult and coordinate their actions.
The Czech Interior Ministry deployed 130 officers for the job on the country’s eastern border with Slovakia. Minister Rakušan said the checks had produced results.
“In the course of the past week close to 44,000 people were checked. The police apprehended 283 illegal migrants and detained 12 people smugglers who have been charged with a criminal offense.”
Police can check anyone, so the Interior Ministry recommends that people moving in the vicinity of the border carry an ID card or passport and be prepared for potential inspections.
Whether the measures will be extended after November 2 is not clear. In addition to being disruptive they are costly –the cost of the checks from October 4 to November 2 will amount to 53.4 million crowns - and all the countries implementing the measures would prefer a comprehensive solution.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala argued last week that the current European migration policy is clearly not sufficient and bolder steps are needed to resolve the growing problem of illegal migration in Europe.