Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser orders flexible and targeted checks on migrant smuggling routes at the borders with Poland and the Czech Republic
27 September 2023
Federal Police to carry out additional checks at the borders and in the border areas in close coordination with existing random checks
In light of increasing migrant smuggling activities at Germany’s borders with the Republic of Poland and the Czech Republic, additional checks are necessary to monitor the border areas. Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser has therefore ordered flexible and targeted checks on these migrant smuggling routes. The Federal Police will now start carrying out these checks in addition to random checks in the entire border area, which have already been greatly intensified. The aim is to identify and prevent migrant smuggling at an earlier stage in the process. Germany wants to protect the lives and well-being of the people being smuggled, who are often women and children.
Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser said:
“We must stop the cruel business of migrant smugglers, who are risking people’s lives in order to maximise profits. That is why, effective immediately, the Federal Police will be carrying out flexible and targeted checks of the smuggling routes along Germany’s borders with Poland and the Czech Republic. These extra checks are in addition to the random checks which we have already greatly intensified in recent months. As a result, the Federal Police has a strong presence in the entire border area. I aim to increase the pressure on smugglers by maximising investigations and to protect the migrants, who are often smuggled across borders without any water and with little oxygen.
We are in close contact with our neighbouring countries Poland and the Czech Republic as well as with the federal states of Saxony and Brandenburg to ensure that all measures are coordinated on both sides of the border in the best way possible. With flexible and mobile checks at varying locations, we want to prevent migrant smugglers from using alternative routes. At the same time, we will ensure that these checks have as little impact as possible on private individuals, commuters and trade.
I am extremely grateful for the great dedication of the Federal Police. There has been a considerable increase in personnel in recent years, and this year will be no exception: we will be allocating an additional 1000 posts to the Federal Police so that they are well equipped for their tasks. We are now seeing just how important this reinforcement is.
Having said that, the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) remains crucial if we want to considerably reduce irregular migration. Under the CEAS, every person at the EU’s external borders is subject to strict checks and registration. People with very little chance of receiving protection in the EU must undergo an asylum procedure in compliance with the rule of law at the external borders and, in the event of a rejection, they must be returned to their home countries directly from there.”
The flexible and targeted checks will create a quick and noticeable increase in Federal Police presence. The checks will be carried out in the border areas, and at times directly at the borders themselves. The checks will be carried out at flexible locations and times, and along different smuggling routes, according to how the situation develops. It cannot be ruled out that the increase in checks will have an impact on cross-border traffic, but this should be avoided as far as possible.
This year, to the end of August 2023, the Federal Police registered a total of 71,000 illegal entries. The main countries of origin are Syria, Afghanistan, Turkey and Iraq.
According to Federal Police information, smuggling currently accounts for one in four illegal entries by third-country nationals into Germany. In the first eight months of this year alone, across Germany, the Federal Police registered more than 1,550 smuggling activities, approximately 1,700 smugglers and more than 20,300 smuggled persons. People are frequently smuggled dangerously in closed cargo vehicles. Most of this smuggling currently takes place at the borders with Austria, the Czech Republic and Poland. The smugglers are becoming more reckless and aggressive towards the people they are smuggling and towards the police officers carrying out checks – for instance by breaking through road blocks.
The Federal Police has long been heavily increasing its deployment of personnel to carry out random checks at Germany’s Schengen border areas. When they identify an illegal entrant, depending on the circumstances of the individual case, officers may implement measures to end that person’s residence or to prevent them from entering Germany in the first place.
Third-country nationals requesting protection are generally taken to an initial reception centre to have their asylum case reviewed, and, if applicable, may be transferred to another EU member state in accordance with the Dublin Regulation.
The proposed border police measures are covered by Article 23 of the Schengen Borders Code (EU Regulation 2016/399) and are to be carried out in accordance with the Act on the Federal Police. It will not be necessary to apply for a temporary reintroduction of internal border checks along the entire land border as per Article 25 (et seqq.) of the Borders Code.
Already, in addition to the aforementioned border policing measures, further measures to fight illegal cross-border people-smuggling are being implemented. Just yesterday, during a major investigative operation by the Federal Police, five suspected smugglers were arrested.