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Právo: NGO says Czech police try to drive away asylum seekers

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Prague, Jan 25 (CTK) – The Czech asylum system tries to discourage refugees from applying for asylum in the country and the immigration officers try to drive away the possible asylum seekers, according to the Organisation for Aid to Refugees (OPU), a Prague-seated NGO, daily Pravo writes yesterday.
In an international report released yesterday, OPU writes that Czech police officers working at Prague airport force refugees to board planes that would take them to the country from which they arrived or they imprison the refugees, the paper writes.
The immigration office dismissed this. It says many refugees produce false IDs and when they end up in prison, they start claiming their right to asylum.
“We resolutely reject the OPU claim that the Czech police prevent foreigners from applying for asylum or thwart the asylum process in any other way,” Czech immigration office spokeswoman Katerina Rendlova told Pravo.
OPU director Martin Rozumek said the situation at the Vaclav Havel Airport Prague was sad. “The police really try to put people who want to apply for asylum on a plane that would take them in the direction, from which they came. If any of their identity documents is invalid or false, they put them in jail,” he told Pravo.
Rozumek said the OPU dealt with five cases of people who were imprisoned after landing in Prague and applied for asylum in vain. “We know their stories in detail,” he added.
The aim of the Czech asylum system is to deter refugees, Rozumek said.
The OPU report focuses on the attitude to the migration crisis in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic in the past two years.
“In case of Ukrainians or Syrians, the asylum can be decided on even in three months. But there are refugees who have been waiting for asylum twelve, seven, six years,” Rozumek said.
Rendlova rejected the criticism. “We can see that many foreigners are not interested in asylum in the Czech Republic and they deliberately do not apply for it,” she said.
The foreigners know that if they applied for asylum in the Czech Republic, they could not apply for it in another country later on. “They prefer to return to their homeland and try to cross the state border elsewhere,” Rendlova said.
She said the police have the right to deny entry to a foreigner who does not meet the conditions to enter Czech territory and stay in the country.
In 2016, the police denied entry to 369 people who neither had a visa or some other document authorising them to stay in the Czech Republic nor applied for asylum in the country. Most often, this concerned citizens of Azerbaijan, Iraq, Russia and Georgia, Rendlova said.
Rozumek said the Iraqis who decided to stay in the country last year seem to be integrating into Czech society well.
However, part of the Iraqis left for Germany and some flew back home and the government-supported resettlement project for Christian families in Iraq was halted prematurely. Originally, 153 people were to arrive, but only 89 of them came and merely 34 decided to stay in the Czech Republic.

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