Bulgaria's IntMin Instructs Citizens How to React When Encountering Migrants
Bulgaria's interior ministry instructed on Tuesday people living in border regions how to react when they come upon illegal immigrants.
This development comes after the recent cases of citizens taking the law into their hands and detaining migrants who had illegally crossed the country's borders.
In an interview for private bTV station on Wednesday, Interior Minister Rumyana Bachvarova said that authorities are appreciating the assistance of citizens, but it was border police's responsibility to guard and maintain order at the border.
According to her, citizens can assist competent authorities by calling border police or dialing the 112 emergency telephone number.
Bachvarova was firm that border police has all powers to inspect the migrants and assess whether they are in need of aid and whether they are eligible for a refugee status.
Citizens can assist by trying to explain to the migrants that they have to stay behind and wait for the arrival of border police.
The interior minister added that migrants can be detained only when it is established that they had committed an offence.
As regards all citizens who have expressed readiness to form vigilante units, Bachvarova advised them to contact the authorities in order to regulate their assistance.
In an interview for private NOVA TV also on Wednesday, Bachvarova expressed hope for citizens to demonstrate understanding for the additional rules.
She did not want to discourage good willing citizens in their attempt to assist authorities, but their help had to be within the legal limits.
In her words, every one who would like to assist authorities and border police should submit a signal rather than take the law into one's hands and detain the migrants.
According to her, a citizen could not assess whether the migrants have committed a crime and whether they are armed.
The latest instances of the citizen's arrests have caused major divisions within society, with among others, the head of border police, the chief prosecutor and human rights groups condemning them as unlawful and humiliating, while certain politicians, media and ordinary people have commended them and glorified vigilantes as heroes.
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