The Ministry of Defense of Serbia is buying razor wire for fencing the centers for migrants
The Ministry of Defense of Serbia is buying almost 2.5 tons of razor wire for fencing the reception centers for the accommodation of migrants and the centers for the accommodation of asylum seekers, it is stated in the public procurement invitation published on the website of that institution.
According to the documentation published by the Ministry of Defense on May 15, in addition to the 700-millimeter-thick razor wire, 1,521 meters of ribbed iron in 20-millimeter-thick bars and 50 kilograms of galvanized binding wire are also subject to public procurement.
The military post office in Kraljevo is listed as the ordering party, and the procurement is being conducted as a negotiated procedure.
Until the conclusion of the text, we did not receive an answer from the Ministry of Defense to the question why the razor wire is placed around the centers and exactly which centers will be fenced.
As it is stated, due to “extraordinary urgency caused by extraordinary circumstances or unforeseen events, the occurrence of which in no case depends on the will of the ordering party, the ordering party could not act within the deadlines set for open or restrictive procedure”.
It is also added that the Army received a task that it does not normally perform in peace, and refers to the provision of Reception Centers and Centers for Asylum of Migrants on the territory of Serbia “and according to the above fact, the possible procurement of goods could not be foreseen and planned 2020.”
The deadline for submitting the bid is, as it is pointed out, May 21.
The documentation also states that the bidder is obliged to offer a warranty period of at least 12 months.
The lowest offered price was stated as a criterion for evaluation and award of the contract, and the Ministry sent an invitation to submit bids to the addresses of four companies: “Žica best” from Smederevo, “In-Sy Group” from Belgrade, “Legi sistem” from Belgrade and " Magnum Novi Sad Vebecom ”from Sremska Kamenica.
Some of these companies, as explained on their website, already have experience in installing fencing systems on facilities of strategic importance such as border crossings and airports.
Securing migrant centers is not the responsibility of the Army
It is unclear why the Serbian Army is providing asylum centers and reception centers for migrants, because it does not have the authority to do so, Rados Djurovic, director of the Center for Protection and Assistance to Asylum Seekers, told Radio Free Europe (RFE). He adds that a distinction should be made between asylum centers and reception centers for migrants.
"Asylum centers are places where people who want to seek asylum in the Republic of Serbia are accommodated. These are persons who have not violated our law in any way, nor is there any basis to restrict their movement. These are people who want the protection of the Republic of Serbia, and then there is no need to fence such camps with razor wire, "says Djurovic, adding:
“On the other hand, if we are talking about reception centers for migrants, ie for people who do not want to seek asylum here and who would have to be in a legal procedure, then everything depends on the character of such a camp, ie the specific case of people who accommodated whether their movement should be restricted or not. That is not within the competence of the Army. Then such centers, which might serve for deportation, should be run by the Border Police together with the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration. The army has no place here according to the existing legislation.”
There are currently five asylum centers and 14 reception centers in Serbia. The problem, according to Radoš Đurović, is that the competent institutions place people in those centers at random, and those who do not want to seek asylum remain in an unregulated legal status.
“When people do not exist for the eyes of the system, and are placed in state institutions, then there is a doubt as to how to treat them and what are the rights and obligations that the state has,” says Djurovic.
Raising the razor wire suggests that Serbia has taken the path of restrictions in the political sense, which Hungary has already started, where there is a similar practice of fencing camps, Rados Djurovic believes.
"In many other countries in Europe, fencing camps in this way is a rarity, of course, depending on the character of the camp. Some deportation camps are fenced. On the other hand, asylum centers are only fenced with a simple fence. “But for the Army to provide asylum centers, that does not exist as an established practice in the developed countries of Western Europe,” Djurovic concludes.
Use of the army during a state of emergency
During the state of emergency in Serbia due to the corona virus, from March 15 to May 6, 2020, migrants were in 24-hour isolation for 53 days, and the facilities in which they are kept were guarded by the Serbian Army.
According to the statement of the Commissariat for Refugees of Serbia from April 4, the measures were introduced “in order to prevent the spread of the corona virus among the migrant population”.
After the lifting of the state of emergency, the security was taken over by the police, while the migrants were allowed to leave with the permission of the management of the centers where they are staying.
In mid-May, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, ordered the use of a part of the forces of the Serbian Army on the territory of the municipality of Sid in order to provide assistance to the Ministry of Internal Affairs in securing asylum centers and reception centers, the Ministry of Defense announced.
Explaining the decision on the deployment of the army, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, said that it was done “in accordance with the assessments of the security bodies and the requests of the citizens from the territory of the municipality of Sid.”
Answering the question why it was necessary to send units to Sid, Vučić, as a guest on Prva TV, said that the citizens of Šid “feel unsafe”.
The Commissariat for Refugees stated in a statement on May 16 that the army is being deployed in Sid as a precaution, and that there have been no major incidents there so far.
Serbian Commissioner for Refugees and Migrants Vladimir Cucic said that during the state of emergency and closed borders due to the coronavirus virus epidemic, about 9,100 migrants stayed in Serbia, but that more than 1,000 of them left the country after the state of emergency was lifted.
Increased anti-immigrant rhetoric
On May 13, several extreme right-wing groups organized a protest in front of the Reception Center for Migrants in Obrenovac.
According to their representatives, they gathered to support Filip Radovanović, who was remanded in custody by the Basic Court in Obrenovac for up to 30 days after he broke into the Reception Center on May 6. Radovanovic is a member of the right-wing organization Leviathan, which advocates anti-immigrant views.
Serbian Commissioner for Refugees and Migration Vladimir Cucic told RFE / RL after the incident that he must stop sowing hatred towards migrants.
Right-wing extremists organized protests against migrants ahead of the health crisis in several Serbian cities.
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