A new agreement between the Czech and German interior ministries has just opened the way to closer cooperation in cross-border police operations such as surveillance, controlled deliveries and hot pursuit. The agreement, which went into force on October 1, should enable more effective action in the fight against drug-abuse, illegal migration and car-theft.
Since the Czech Republic joined the Schengen border free zone in 2007, the neighbour states have had to fight the adverse side-effects of no border checks – easier peddling of drugs across the common border and increased cases of cross-border car theft, among others. This concerns primarily the illegal smuggling of the Czech drug “pervitin” –the street name for crystal methamphetamine- to the German border areas and the smuggling of stolen vehicles from Germany to the Czech Republic where they are dismantled within hours.
Gradually, the two countries’ police forces established instruments to help crack-down on cross border crime, from information-sharing, cross-border personnel support and joint centres to language courses facilitating direct communication between officers in the regions. Now, the 2016 agreement between the Czech Republic and Germany has taken that cooperation to a new level. Interior Ministry spokeswoman Martina Němcová:
“The primary aim of this agreement is to increase the efficiency of bilateral cooperation in cracking down on cross-border crime and maintaining law and order. It enables joint patrols or joint police operations on the entire territory of the two countries and gives officers of one country the right to intervene 10-kms into the territory of the other without prior warning if people’s lives or health are in danger.”
The agreement enables the police to pursue suspicious vehicles into the territory of the other state, including the use of police helicopters, and make an arrest without an officer of the given state being present. Furthermore it newly defines bilateral cooperation in the protection of witnesses, extradition of persons and special operations in escorting dangerous or oversize cargo. In view of the problem of illegal migration it envisages better information sharing and more joint patrols on the territory of both countries. According to Interior Minister Chovanec certain provisions of the deal still need to be settled, such as cooperation in the event of a short-term closure of the Czech-German border, should the need arise.
Germany has an agreement to this effect with all its neighbours, while the Czech Republic is still in the process of replacing bilateral agreements from the pre-Schengen period. Following talks with his German counterpart Thomas de Maizière in Berlin last week, Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said work was underway to replace a Czech-Polish agreement from 2002, setting down conditions which would give the police force of the three countries the same powers in the tri-border area of the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland.
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