In mid-February, we presented an opinion to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe regarding the current situation on the Polish-Belarusian border (available HERE). There, we criticised the Polish government’s position assuring that the judgment in the case of M.K. and Others v. Poland had been fully implemented. We emphasised that it is necessary to restore respect for the rights of migrants at the Polish-Belarusian border. There has been no improvement there and the rights of applicants for international protection are continuously violated on a regular basis.

In mid-March, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe published a note and a decision regarding the review of the implementation of the Court’s judgment in, inter alia, the case of M.K. and Others v. Poland.

In its statement of position, the Committee concluded that it needed more information to be able to assess whether the judgment in M.K. and Others v. Poland had been fully implemented. Referring to the statement of the Polish authorities that a form of declaration to apply for international protection had been created, the Committee indicated that the Polish authorities should explain in detail the content or provide a copy of such a form and indicate whether they envisage undertaking other measures to eliminate the practice of untruthfully registering the statements of migrant (i.e. omitting their assertions of a desire to apply for international protection in Poland).

The Committee again requested the Polish authorities to provide an analysis on the impact of the 2021 amendments to the Act on Foreigners and the Act on Granting Protection to Foreigners on the respect of the right to apply for international protection in Poland. More specifically, the authorities should provide substantial information regarding the practice of the Head of the Office for Foreigners in applying Article 33(1a) of the Act on Foreigners, which allows an application for international protection submitted by a migrant who entered Poland in an irregular manner to be not examined.

The Committee also recommended that other statistical data should be provided without delay including the determination of how many applications for protection and refusals of entry or orders to leave the territory of the Republic concerned migrants entering the territory of Poland from Belarus and how many applications were left unprocessed, as well as how many persons were expelled to Belarus on the basis of the Ordinance of the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration of August 20, 2021.

The Committee also urged the Polish authorities to immediately present information on measures to address the lack of automatic suspensive effect of an appeal against a decision to refuse entry into the territory of the Republic of Poland in a situation where a migrant claims that his or her application for international protection has not been taken into consideration.

It also requested information on the guarantees applied by national authorities to ensure compliance with interim measures ordered by the European Court of Human Rights. The Committee will reconsider the matter in 2025, following the provision of the above-mentioned information by the Polish authorities by the end of this year.

The full note and decision can be read HERE and HERE respectively