Bulgarian MP Proposes to Formally Involve Volunteers in Border Protection
A Bulgarian lawmaker has proposed to introduce military training for volunteers willing to help police and army personnel protect the border with Turkey from crossing by irregular migrants.
The rationale behind the proposal made on Monday by Boris Stanimirov, a MP from Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (DSB), is to put the so-called civilian border patrols under state control.
DSB is one of the parties making up the Reformist Bloc (RB), the junior partner in the coalition government dominated by centre-right GERB party.
Video footage purportedly showing arrests of alleged irregular migrants by groups of “migrant hunters” along the border in Turkey was uploaded on social media networks last week, triggering an outcry from human rights organizations and international media and prompting the Bulgarian government to distance itself from the vigilante patrols.
"They must be people who have undergone the necessary training, acting on behalf of the state, operating in uniforms and under orders, and bearing responsibility before the law,” Stanimirov said at a press conference at the DSB headquarters in Sofia, according to news daily Dnevnik.
The state has to organize and oversee the process when people want to contribute to ensuring the protection of the borders rather than leave it to the judgement of individuals, Stanimirov said.
The proposal would require changes to be made to the Defence and Armed Forces Act, as well as the Army Reserve Act, Stanimirov said and added that he would inform Defence Minister Nikolay Nenchev about the proposal.
According to Stanimirov, if the state considers that the existing border police force and the assisting army personnel are not enough to ensure border protection, a reserve force of volunteers could be formally enrolled to help them under strict guidelines rather than leave civilians patrol the border at their own discretion.
More than half of Bulgarians generally approve of the idea of patrols of volunteers detaining irregular migrants who have crossed into the country, a new poll has shown.
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