The Austrian authorities have decided to extend internal border controls with Slovakia until at least February 5, just one day after the Czech Republic announced it would also extend controls at the borders with Slovakia until February 4.
In a press release issued on Thursday, January 26, the Ministry of Interior of Austria announced the move, revealing that since the controls with this country were first introduced at the end of September 2022, a total of 23 people smugglers who operated between the two countries have been arrested, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
“The extension of the border controls to Slovakia is necessary for the time being in order to actively restrict the scope of action of the smuggling mafia and to prevent the smugglers’ routes from being shifted,” said the Minister of Interior Gerhard Karner, while explaining while the measure is necessary to remain effective.
Whereas in a statement issued on January 25, the Czech Ministry of the Interior also revealed the extension of border controls for another ten days on the request of the Minister of the Interior, Vít Rakušan, though with a few changes from the way controls functioned up until that date.
According to this statement since Thursday, soldiers and customs officers no longer participate in borders controls, and instead, only the police force will be carrying them, randomly.
“They [the border controls] will still have the form of random checks that the government approved at the end of December last year, but now only members of the police force will be in charge of them,” the statement explains.
Czechia had introduced controls with Slovakia on September 29, 2022, based on the EU law on reintroduction of border controls, in a bid to prevent the further activity of organized groups of smugglers transiting from the territory of Czechia to Germany.
The Ministry claims that the measure has worked, with the border authorities having detected 9,567 people in illegal migration and denied entry to 2,545 of them. They have also detained a total of 141 people suspected of human smuggling. Up until December 21, every person crossing the border was checked. However, since then, checks are carried randomly.
Both countries have notified the Slovak authorities on the extension of controls. While this time the latter have not made any remarks in this regard, back in October, the Slovak Minister of Interior, Roman Mikulec, had accused the Czech Republic for violating the Schengen Borders Code by introducing and extending border controls on the common border.
According to him, the introduction and extension of internal border controls should be the last measure, as there are other options to fight the smuggling of migrants and illegal arrivals, before internal border controls.
Source : SchengenVisa