Hungary Is Building Up an Army of Up to 3,000 Border Guards Trained in Judo and Firearms to Keep Out Migrants
Katie Mansfield, Express, March 9, 2017
The new ‘border hunter’ force have undertaken a six month crash course to help police and army units protect Hungary’s borders.
Recruits have learned how to assemble guns blindfolded, how to handcuff people and judo as part of their training.
The border guards, who must be between 18 and 55 years old, are given training similar to police and learn other skills such as guarding a border fence, detaining large groups of migrants and tracking their paths.
Recruits will carry pistols with live ammunition, batons, pepper spray and handcuffs, and will also be equipped with night-vision goggles if needed.
Hungarian police aim to recruit up to 3,000 border hunters with recruitment scouts visiting secondary schools to find volunteers.
Asked under what conditions border hunters could use force against migrants, regional police chief Attila Piros said the rules were the same as for police – to “break resistance” but only as a last resort.
He said any force must be proportionate and justified. “One of the most important things in this six-month training that we teach as law but in fact has moral and ethical foundations is that criminals are human beings, everybody has human rights.”
Recruit Sandor Jankovics, 26, said he his proud to start border duty.
He is one of dozens undergoing fast-track training at Barcs, a border crossing with fellow EU country Croatia.
Mr Jankovics said: “We will be sent to the stretch of border where we will be needed.”
Hundreds of thousands of migrants have entered Hungary through its southern border with Serbia and Croatia since 2015.
The southern frontier marks the external border of the EU’s schengen zone of passport free travel.
Nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban ordered a fence to be built along the southern border and an EU-Turkey deal has seen the number of migrants attempting to enter Hungary fall.
Mr Orban is boosting Hungary’s defences after he described mainly Muslim migrants as a “Trojan horse for terrorism” and cited the risk of new arrivals.
Thousands of border recruits took an oath to protect Hungary during a swearing in ceremony in Budapest.
Mr Orban warned Hungary must act to defend itself.
He said: “The storm has not died, it has only subsided temporarily. There are still millions waiting to set out on their journey in the hope of a better life in Europe.”
As well as the border guards and razor-wire fence, the Hungarian government has started building a second line of “smart fence” along the Serbian border.
The security clampdown comes as Hungary passed a law to detain migrants in camps along its border sparking outrage from the UN who said the move violates EU humanitarian law and will have a “terrible physical and psychological impact” on asylum seekers.
Border police say they had detained over 100 illegal migrants in the past 30 days.
Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, said: “Automatically depriving all asylum seekers of their liberty would be in clear violation of Hungary’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.”
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said its teams in Serbia were treating a growing number of migrants who reported being beaten and stomped on by Hungarian border guards who intercepted them.
Mr Orban’s government has denied mistreating migrants. His office said eight cases of alleged mistreatment had been investigated but in none “was it proven that refugees had been harmed by border personnel”.