Police officers replaced by armed volunteers

A civic association from Bratislava acts like substitute police and exploits gaps in the law.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: SME)

Armed men wearing bands on their sleeves offer help to people who have lost trust in the police corps. They are united in the civic association the Fight Against Crime which uses a symbol similar to that of the police, the Sme daily reported.

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Experts say that the association may act outside the law.

The simple website does not say much about the association. It uses the slogan “Where the police are stopped by the law we continue”. It also uses the name of the Interior Ministry in the symbol, which may induce the impression that it belongs to the state administration, Sme reported.

The only contact is the phone number to the “operation centre”. The number belongs to head of the civic association Marek Šoun. He rejects an implication that people may confuse their activities with that of police. Yet he admitted that the website does not contain information that it is a civic association.

“Yes, we should have done it, but it is not missing there,” Šoun told Sme, adding that the website will be changed, but now they do not have enough money.

When asked about using the name of the Interior Ministry in their symbol, Šoun explained that it is part of the code under which the ministry registered them as a civic association. He also considers it alright to use the police badge symbol, claiming that it has been checked by a lawyer.

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He also refused to be more specific about cases they are currently dealing with.

Šoun ran for the parliament back in 2012 on the slate of the Právo a Spravodlivosť (Law and Justice) party led by businessman Peter Puškár. Puškár was accused of VAT frauds in April, Sme wrote. Šoun now claims that he ended all cooperation with the party and that it has nothing to do with his civic association.

The association currently has 45 registered members and plans to expand. They wear bands on their sleeves which also lack information about being a civic association. Though some members also carry guns, Šoun explains that they are only in their private possession and that they are not part of any armed forces, as reported by Sme.

The Police Corps Presidium has meanwhile rejected any cooperation with the civic association. People should always report crimes or offences to the police, said its spokesperson Michal Slivka.

The police are also currently checking the logo and activities of the association. If they reveal that the association is fulfilling the same tasks as the police, it would be a crime, the Interior Ministry told Sme.

Lawyer Pavel Nechala, who cooperates with ethics watchdog Transparency International Slovensko, considers it suspicious that there is nearly no information about the activities of the association. An ordinary people may easily confuse them with police, he told Sme.

If the association was to strictly observe the law, it would offer people only consultations, he added.

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