Interior ministry proposes new anti-terrorism measures

Illustrative photo: CTK

Members of the Czech National Security Council met late on Tuesday to discuss new measures designed to protect the country from the threat of terrorism and illegal migration, including better coordination between the security and emergency services in the event of a perceived imminent or actual terrorist attack.

Illustrative photo: CTK
The meeting of the National Security Council was called in order to present the initial findings of a so-called “security audit” collated by the interior ministry at the request of the Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka following the attacks in Paris on November 13. Specifically, the ministry report represents the first multi-pronged approach towards overhauling Czech security, and proposes a new four-step threat assessment scale as well as new measures designed to inform the public in the event of a terrorist incident. At issue is the creation of a systematic approach to replace the emergency security measures put in place following the Paris attacks, including the positioning of armed police at certain strategic sites.

Bohuslav Sobotka explained to Czech Television that currently the country would be at 1 in the 0-3 scale, with increased security measures by the police and vigilance urged from the public, and also described the wider aims of such coordination efforts:

Bohuslav Sobotka,  photo: Filip Jandourek
“These are measures currently in effect. Right now there is no reason to increase these. Of course if we had specific intelligence regarding a threat then we would increase these measures, but right now, that is not the case…Also at issue is securing water and electricity supplies, and even data.”

Higher level threat assessments could see public events cancelled and troops brought out into the streets. It would be up to the government – or in extreme cases, the interior minister alone – to determine this threat. Also under discussion were proposals to re-introduce border checks with Austria, Slovakia and Poland – although such measures have not yet been approved. At the meeting were specialists from the interior and defence ministries as well as security services representatives. Asides from terrorism and migration, it also addressed issues spanning from energy independence to domestic extremism.

Speaking to Czech Television, interior minister Milan Chovanec suggested that current laws are sufficient to address the present threat:

Milan Chovanec,  photo: Filip Jandourek
“According to our analysis and our specialists, it will not be necessary to amend our laws. Rather policing and other enacted legislation will be sufficient. And we do not believe that we need to undertake any kind of large-scale changes. The security threat scale is mainly about ensuring proper coordination between the emergency and security services, from the army to the police.”

The minister also argued that even though the Czech Republic was not a favoured target destination for a potential 20 million migrants fleeing Syria and nearby countries, increased preparation was still necessary, and measures to reduce the current roughly 3,000 daily arrivals on Europe’s shores would be welcome.