Killed immigrant: many questions

A man was hit by a bullet shot by the border police. Comments by Tcheresharov (Caritas) and Nikolov ("Christianity and culture")

The first case of a migrant killed after having crossed the EU land border hit the news worldwide. It happened in Bulgaria the night of October 15, near Sredetz, a town thirty kilometers from the Turkish border. The patrol guards consisting of three men, a border guard and two policemen, was following a group of 54 migrants of Afghan origin, who entered illegally from Turkey. While they were trying to stop them the migrants stood up against the police forces. The border guard shot in the air and the bullet, bounced from a bridge, hit the neck of one of the men, who died later on. Judicial authorities filed an investigation to shed light on the circumstances of the event. Until now, according to statements of the Bulgarian prosecutor, the version of the bounced bullet appears credible. The results of the autopsy and the forensic are yet to come through. According to the Secretary General of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Georgi Kostov, “the border guard who shot has a long experience", while "there are many groups of people who want to cross the border illegally." "Unfortunate" accident. Expressing his regret over the tragic episode, the President of the Republic Rossen Plevneliev described it as an "unfortunate accident." His statement raised a few eyebrows. The Head of State called for a transparent, independent investigation, and reiterated "asylum-seekers must follow the rules." "Bulgaria has always treated migrants with humbleness and tolerance", Plevneliev added.Open questions. While waiting for the results of the investigation, the episode triggered many questions and awe at national and European level alike- also because the news broke in during the European summit on the migration crisis in Brussels. The President of the European Council Donald Tusk said, "it is essential that the European Union regains control over its external borders." Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe Nils Mužnieks, expressed his perplexities. "In all likelihood this person was seeking refuge and instead of defence was met with death", he said, calling upon Bulgarian authorities to provide "clear instructions to the police guards on how to address migratory inflows according to the European standards for the defence of human rights." According to Bulgaria’s Helsinki Committee " in this case the use of arms was illegal because when the shooting took place neither their life nor their health were at risk." Inappropriate measures. "The incident of the killed migrant highlights the inappropriateness of the anti-immigration measures and the measures built on the border with Turkey", Ivan Tcheresharov, in charge of migration policies in Caritas Bulgaria, told SIR Europe. "Bulgaria seeks to stop migrants that are still on the border – said Caritas expert – the Bulgarian-Turkish is very well-protected, partly with barbed wire and several patrols." This explains why few refugees enter the Country, and why they prefer passing through Greece and the Western Balkans. For Theresharov, "associations active at local level fear that migrants could be denied the possibility of presenting an asylum-request and in some cases are sent back immediately." Complex situation. "An emblematic situation for the way in which Bulgarian society accepts migrants, as in a large part of Europe, that is, with fear", said Toni Nikolov, social analyst, editor-in-chief of the magazine "Christianity and Culture." "Every week there is news of accidents with migrants: left in the middle of the street by traffickers or found by the police in parks, hotels or stations." In his opinion foreigners avoid the police "because they don’t want to be registered and eventually be forced to stay in Bulgaria while their richer Countries are their final destination." "Unfortunately – said the social analyst – until now European Countries failed to find a joint response to the migratory crisis." "East-Europeans lived for decades with closed borders and walls – he said -, then they waiting to freely cross the borders of the West, and this is why their welcoming of refugees is much more contained". Also for Theresharov "the situation in Bulgaria is extremely complex because most people are not familiar with the reality of migrants and views them from a negative angle."

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