Germany to tighten border controls with Switzerland, Poland and Czechia
The German Ministry of the Interior has announced that police will be imposing stricter checks along the federal republic's borders with Poland, Czechia and Switzerland in an attempt to prevent human trafficking. The increased checks are expected to cause significant traffic jams.
Germany announces strict checks along borders with Poland, Czechia and Switzerland
Authorities in Germany have informed the European Union Commission that they will conduct regular, stationary border checks at the country's borders with Poland, Czechia and Switzerland. The initial test is expected to last until October 26, but can be extended for up to two months if required - the policy is already enforced on the Germany-Austria border.
In a statement given to the Swiss news platform 20 Minuten, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said the emergency services can now “use the entire package of stationary and mobile border police measures.” She confirmed that the Swiss government, specifically Minister of the Interior Elisabeth Baume-Schneider, was informed of the decision on Monday afternoon.
Stricter checks will not deter those seeking help, says PRO ASYL
Faeser claims that the new stationary checks will prevent and disrupt human trafficking operations that pass through the neighbouring countries on their way to Germany. According to the EU border force police Frontex, between January and August 2023, 114.265 migrants used the so-called “central Mediterranean” route through Switzerland and Austria to reach Germany. The majority of the migrants, who make the perilous journey to seek more stable living conditions or safety from conflict, are from Syria or do not have identification documents.
In 2023, Germany has seen a 74 percent increase in the number of migrants applying for asylum in the country. To get them to German cities, human traffickers often take huge fees or demand loans or servitude from their victims, and subject them to horrific conditions in transit. Just last week, seven migrants were killed when a van carrying them overturned in Austria as it tried to reach Munich - the road accident was blamed on the van's attempt to evade police.
“The smugglers’ business is becoming increasingly brutal and unscrupulous. The terrible deaths of seven people who were smuggled across the German-Austrian border on Friday night shocked us deeply. It is now necessary to take all possible measures to stop this cruel business with people's lives," Faeser said in a statement.
But speaking to IamExpat, German refugee rights organisation PRO ASYL said the new policies are unlikely to deter those desperately seeking safety from war, persecution or inhumane treatment by other European states. "When people from the main origin countries of asylum seekers, such as Syria or Afghanistan, cross the border it can be assumed that they want to express a request for protection," the organisation stressed.
PRO ASYL also warned that when a country introduces stricter border controls, there is often an increase in the number of illegal pushbacks, when state measures simultaneously force refugees out of their current location and obstruct their legal routes to asylum in other places.
Traffic jams expected at the Swiss-German border
Faeser assured that, for those travelling across the borders regularly for work, “the controls [will] have as little impact as possible on the everyday life of commuters, on trade and on travel.” However, migration expert Eduard Gnesa told 20 Minuten that even if not all cars are stopped, traffic jams and waiting times at the border are “inevitable”, significantly impacting holders of cross-border residence permits.
For its part, Daniel Bach, chief spokesperson for the Federal Department of Justice and Police, said that Switzerland had already increased its presence on the border back in September and “reserves the right to further adapt its border arrangements flexibly and depending on the situation.”
He added that German authorities “assured that the controls should be carried out selectively and proportionately in order to disrupt the everyday life of commuters as little as possible.”
This article originally appeared on IamExpat in Switzerland.
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