Czech police spark uproar by tagging refugees with numbers

2015-09-02 18:59
A police officer marks a refugee with a number in Breclav, Czech Republic. (Igor Zehl, AP)

A police officer marks a refugee with a number in Breclav, Czech Republic. (Igor Zehl, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Prague - Human rights activists and lawyers in the Czech Republic on Wednesday slammed local police for marking the hands of refugees with numbers after detaining them on a train.

"There is no law allowing the police to mark people like this," Zuzana Candigliota, a lawyer with the Czech Human Rights League, told AFP.

The measure has raised eyebrows as it recalls Nazi Germany's practice of marking the arms of concentration camp prisoners with numbers.

Czech police used markers to write numbers on the hands of 214 refugees, mostly Syrians, detained Tuesday at a southeastern border crossing on trains from Austria and Hungary.

Interior ministry spokesperson Lucie Novakova said the move was introduced because of the increasing number of children among the refugees.

"Our goal is to prevent the children from getting lost," she told AFP.

The measure was used with large groups of refugees to keep record of family members, according to Katerina Rendlova, spokesperson for a unit of the Czech police dealing with foreigners.

"We also write the code of the train they have arrived on so that we know which country we should return them to within the readmission system."

Unlike some other EU member states, Czech authorities maintain that migrants who enter the country without first having made an asylum request should be returned to the state from which they arrived, in line with the EU's Dublin Provision.

The overwhelming majority of Czechs oppose hosting refugees, according to an August survey by local polling agency Focus in which 93% of respondents said they should be returned to their country of origin.

Rendlova said the refugees "used to get the numbers on a piece of paper but they kept throwing them away".

"They have agreed with the marking - they don't have a problem with this, they know it's in their interest."

But rights activists and lawyers cite legal and ethical concerns.

"I guess they agree because they believe the police officer has the right to do this," said Candigliota.

"I know it's difficult because the refugees have no documents," Prague lawyer Marek Dufek told AFP.

But he questioned whether they had agreed to the markings: "Do they have a signed approval form in their native tongue?"

Read more on:    czech republic  |  migrants

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.