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German press: Czechs keep refugees behind barbed wire

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Berlin/Prague, Aug 24 (CTK) – The Czech authorities detain refugees behind barbed wire though Czech courts and NGOs consider it a violation of international law, Frankfurter Rundschau German daily writes in a commentary Monday.

It also writes that migrants, most of whom do not know the Czech Republic at all and view it as one of many countries on their route to the dream destination, are apparently not welcomed in the Czech Republic.

“The Czech foreigner police detain hundreds of refugees every day. They are catching Syrians, Afghanis or Eritreans who follow the Balkan route to Hungary from where they want to continue northward, in international trains or on the border with Slovakia,” Frankfurter Rundschau writes, adding that the Czech Republic becomes the final destination for many refugees.

The Czech authorities approach them as illegal immigrants.

The Czech Interior Ministry justifies the detention of refugees crossing the country by the asylum law.

Under the law, the foreigners without a residence permit and personal documents must be detained until their case is resolved.

One of the largest refugee detention facilities is in Bela pod Bezdezem, central Bohemia, where some 500 people are waiting for the Czech authorities to decide on their fate.

“The camp is surrounded by a four-meter fence with barbed wire. The refugees must hand in their valuable personal items and mobile phones and the state deducts the costs of their forced stay from their cash. Private security guards are patrolling inside, while the police protect the facility from outside,” Frankfurter Rundschau writes.

It also writes that journalists are not allowed to enter the camp, but some of them have talked to refugees.

A Pakistani man, who has been travelling for six months, has told reporters that he has been detained for 30 days in the Czech facility in which there are problems with the lack of food.

Czech NGOs criticise the refugee detention centres also because families and underage children are kept in them. They also mind that refugees cannot leave the centres and return to them freely over the risk of escape that is ascribed to all of them automatically.

This is at variance with international commitments, according to associations defending human rights. They say the Dublin Regulation defining the EU asylum mechanism requires that the risk of escape be assessed individually.

Czech courts share the view of refugees being detained unlawfully in the Czech Republic. They accepted legal complaints filed by asylum seekers as substantiated and ordered their release. However, only few of them turn to Czech courts, Frankfurter Rundschau writes.

The German daily also mentions the Czech public’s negative stance on refugees. In a recent poll, 71 percent of Czechs were against accepting refugees.

“The leftist populist president Milos Zeman also opposes migrants. ‘No one has invited you to the Czech Republic,’ he said in an interview with the Blesk tabloid recently,” Frankfurter Rundschau recalls.

It adds that Zeman supported stricter measures against refugees, including the deployment of soldiers to protect the border with Austria and Slovakia.

Despite that, some voices against the Czech asylum policy have been heard in the country, such as Czech scientists’ call for toleration of refugees that points out the threat of xenophobia and unnecessary hysteria over the migrant wave. Some 2,800 people have signed the petition so far.

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