We are suing Poland before the European Court of Human Rights for inhuman and degrading conditions in guarded centers for foreigners and for illegal collective deportations of refugees on the Polish-Belarusian border.
The Legal Intervention Association lodged complaints with the Court on behalf of two refugees from Afghanistan. In August 2021, despite oral applications for international protection (refugee status), they were illegally deported to the strict reserve of the Białowieża Primeval Forest in the middle of the night. They spent the night there without proper clothing, food, drinking water, shelter, and medical care.
The men were finally allowed into Poland. They were placed in a guarded center for foreigners. They stayed at the Foreigners Registration Center in Dubicze Cerkiewne, the Guarded Center for Foreigners in Kętrzyn and the Temporary Guarded Center for Foreigners in Wędrzyn.
We decided to file a complaint because the conditions in the centers where refugees are placed are degrading and inhuman.
says the member of the board of the Association, attorney-at-law Małgorzata Jaźwińska in charge of the case.
Refugees are given less personal space than prisoners. The centers are often dirty and sanitary conditions are poor. Access to the help of a doctor or psychologist is often purely illusory. Refugees should not be locked up in such places at all.
The Polish Ombudsman also pointed out bad conditions in guarded centers, in particular in the Temporary Guarded Center for Foreigners in Wędrzyn. The Defender also pointed to a number of reservations regarding the conditions in the Guarded Center for Foreigners in Kętrzyn.
In the submitted complaint, we alleged a breach by Poland of:
- prohibition of collective expulsion,
- prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment and the right to life in connection with the deportation of refugees in the middle of the night to the strict reserve of the Białowieża Primeval Forest, where they were not provided with the possibility of meeting their basic needs (shelter, medical assistance, access to drinking water and food),
- the obligation to provide an effective remedy, because Poland does not provide a legal path to appeal against an illegal push-back,
- the prohibition of arbitrary detention and the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment, because the conditions in guarded centers are unsuitable for refugees.
We are waiting for the case to be communicated to the European Court of Human Rights.