Syrian migrant shot by Slovak customs officers

By bne IntelliNews May 9, 2016

Slovak customs officers injured a 26-year-old woman from Syria as they shot at a car carrying migrants that failed to stop as it crossed into the country from Hungary in the small hours of May 9.

Slovakia, which received a total of 154 asylum requests in 2015, filed a suit in December against the EU over the imposition of a mandatory quota system to redistribute more than 160,000 refugees. The Smer party, led by Prime Minister Robert Fico, employed a hardline stance during the migrant crisis in a bid to rally support ahead of elections in March. However, the party lost its majority as voters elected two far right parties to the parliament. One is now in the shaky ruling coalition.

"The driver of the car failed to acknowledge an order to stop, even after a warning shot was fired. The vehicle came to a stop only after the customs officials shot at its tyres," said Financial Directorate spokesperson Patricia Macikova, TASR reported. The victim is reported to be recovering in hospital following an operation to remove a bullet from her back.

The directorate said in a statement that a people smuggler had been behind the wheel of the car and had put the customs officials in harm’s way. According to media reports, customs officials had flagged down four cars in total. The others had pulled over as instructed.

According to the EU's migrant quota plan, Slovakia is obliged to take in 802 refugees immediately, and another 656 in case of need. Proposals from the European Commission made in early May mean states refusing to accept refugees under the system could face a stiff financial penalty.

Slovakia is not alone in the region in its fierce opposition to accepting refugees, with Hungary in particular rejecting plans to offer asylum. However, whilst Budapest has built fences on its southern borders and whipped up criticism for its rough treatment of migrants, the incident in Slovakia is reported to be the first in which a refugee has been shot.

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