Director of Bulgaria’s Border Police: Punishments in our Country do not Scare the Traffickers

Defense | February 21, 2023, Tuesday // 10:43|  views

@Ministry of Defense

In 2023, an even greater increase in those wishing to cross our border illegally is expected due to the geopolitical situation, the economic crisis, the humanitarian crisis, the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, and the problems in the Middle East. However, our border is guarded under extremely difficult conditions.” This is what commissioner Rositsa Dimitrova, director of the Main Directorate "Border Police", told BNT.

Dimitrova explained that the employees of "Border Police" do not have motor vehicles with high cross-country ability, the border wall is, in her words, "a fence, to put it mildly, it does not serve as an obstacle", there is no equipment and video surveillance in the 110 km section in the most difficult section in the Strandzha area.

"Under these conditions, with the impossibility of using any equipment, we have no manpower. Because the reduction of people from ‘Border Police’, the non-appointment, non-training of new people, we are facing a deadlock, at the moment the border is only known to the officers of ‘Border Police’. The colleagues we send from other structures cannot be of full value, they are not trained, they do not know our territory," said Dimitrova.

However, according to her, Bulgaria has been coping in the past year against the background of unprecedented pressure, which has never existed before. We have prevented over 164,000 people from illegally crossing the Bulgarian-Turkish border. The previous peak was in 2015, when around 90,000 illegal crossers were apprehended.

"The border authorities, the structures of the Ministry of the Interior did not allow these people to enter Bulgaria - I don't think that this shows that we are not coping with the migrant pressure," said Dimitrova and explained that according to data from Frontex, there are 330,000 registered migrants in the countries in Western Europe. At most 45% is the increase of those who passed through the Western Balkan route and about 40% from the Eastern Mediterranean route.

In the Western Balkan route, the most recorded crossings are through Serbia and North Macedonia, where the pressure is 11 times greater than that between Bulgaria and Serbia.

"We detain migrants inside our country, we detain them on the way out as well. We do it to protect Europe," said Dimitrova.

She confirmed that one of the detainees in the case of the migrants near Lokorsko is a former border guard. He left the system in 2008. However, twice last year he was stopped and detained with migrants and pre-trial proceedings were opened against him.

The director of the "Border Police" noted that last year there were over 2,800 pre-trial proceedings for trafficking and illegal migration, 2,100 of which resulted in convictions. Of them, only 159 people are effectively imprisoned, the rest are fines or suspended sentences.

For the past year, in addition to Bulgarian and Turkish citizens, there are also Syrian, Serbian, Ukrainian, Moldovan, Romanian, and Russian citizens in the top five accused of trafficking.

"But there is another rich palette of citizens of EU countries who come to our country to carry out this criminal activity. They know what they are coming for - to carry it out. And they are not afraid of punishment. The fact that I am listing them to you means, that they have been arrested, they have been charged and they have received their sentences, but those sentences are small. They know that by receiving the sentences, they can step on a fine or a suspended sentence, but that cannot stop them," said Dimitrova.

She stated that the Ministry of Internal Affairs had long ago made its demands in the previous parliament for increasing the punishments, which was extremely necessary, but which was not accepted. She expects the next parliament to eventually make a decision.

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Tags: border, Dimitrova, migrants, Bulgaria


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