In May 2023, the coalition of non-governmental organizations PRAB (Protecting Rights at Borders), of which we are members, published another report on the situation of foreigners trying to cross EU borders in search of international protection and security. Many of them face the practice of pushback, i.e. being expelled from the territory of the country they wish to enter without considering their individual situation and needs and despite their pleas for protection. PRAB reports document the practice of pushbacks in eight countries: Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Poland, Serbia and Italy.
With regard to Poland, the latest report covering the period from January to April 2023 indicates, among others, that:
- The humanitarian crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border continues. Foreigners are regularly turned back to the state border and forced to return to Belarus, regardless of their age, health or requests for international protection. These foreigners face violence, inhumane and degrading treatment on the part of both Polish and Belarusian authorities. Their phones are destroyed and personal belongings, including food, are taken, significantly affecting their survival in the border forest after the pushback.
- The construction of the wall on the Polish-Belarusian border forced foreigners to cross the border in a more dangerous way: crossing rivers, crossing swamps, or jumping off the wall. In the reporting period, the number of fatalities on the Polish-Belarusian border increased significantly. From August 2021 to May 24, 2023, at least 45 people lost their lives trying to cross this border.
- From the beginning of the year to the end of April 2023, the Border Guard issued 880 decisions on leaving the territory of the Republic of Poland (based on Article 303b of the Act on foreigners, which was also criticized by the Polish courts), and from January to the end of March this year, 4,582 prevented border crossings were registered against the regulations (this number includes, among others, cases where the Regulation of the Minister of the Interior and Administration of August 20, 2021 amending the regulation on temporary suspension or limitation of border traffic at certain border crossing points was applied, which allows foreigners to be returned to the state border without any decision and which has already been declared illegal several times).
- From April 7, 2023, the competences of the Border Guard increased significantly. At the same time, the rights of foreigners under the obligation to return procedure and in relation to detention for migration purposes have been limited.
- The UN Human Rights Committee recently issued an opinion stating that Poland violated Art. 7 and 13 in connection with under Article 2(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in connection with repeated refusals to accept an application for international protection at the border crossing in Terespol in 2017.
The latest PRAB report can be found here.
Danish Refugee Council information on the report is available here: Protecting Rights at Borders VI: What we do in the shadows | DRC Danish Refugee Council.
The PRAB coalition brings together the following NGOs: Human Constanta (Belarus); Danish Refugee Council (DRC) BiH (Bosnia and Herzegovina); Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) and DRC Greece (Greece); Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull’Immigrazione (ASGI), Diaconia Valdese (DV) and DRC Italy (Italy); Diversity Development Group and Sienos Grupé (Lithuania); Macedonian Young Lawyers Association (MYLA) (North Macedonia); Legal Intervention Association (Poland); Humanitarian Center for Integration and Tolerance (HCIT) (Serbia); and DRC Brussels (Belgium). You can find out more about the PRAB coalition here: Protecting Rights at Borders (PRAB) – evidence of refugee and migrant pushbacks at EU borders | DRC Danish Refugee Council.