We submit a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights about illegal push backups experienced by our clients while crossing the Polish-Belarusian border.
The case concerns a married couple from Algeria, who tried to get to Poland in order to apply for international protection in our country. When crossing the border, despite declaring their willingness to apply for asylum in Poland and informing about the impossibility of obtaining adequate protection in Belarus, they were detained several times by the Polish Border Guard and taken back. As a result of the push-backs, they were forced to spend many days in the forest in inhuman conditions, without shelter, medicine, food and drinking water.
Before the push-back we are complaining about in this complaint, our client (the complainant) lost her pregnancy. Being in the first trimester, she was a particularly sensitive person, who should be given appropriate medical and psychological help. Meanwhile, she was returned to a country where she could not receive a safe haven.
The Border Guard, transporting our clients to Belarus, did not deliver any decisions against which they could appeal. They have not been made clear that they have any rights, nor have they been provided with information in a language they understand.
In the complaint, we accuse Poland of infringing:
- Article 2, Article 3 and Article 4 of Protocol Number 4 to the European Convention on Human Rights, i.e. the right to life, the prohibition of torture and the prohibition of collective expulsion of foreigners;
- Article 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights in connection with Article 2, Article 3 of the Convention and Article 4 of Protocol Number 4 to the Convention, i.e. the right to an effective remedy in relation to the above-mentioned violations.
In the first plea we accuse Poland that the applicants, despite the fact that they were particularly sensitive persons, were unlawfully expelled from our country. There has been no verification of whether their lives in Belarus are in danger and that they will not be subjected to torture there. The applicants were pushed and ridiculed by Polish officials. After expulsion, they had to stay in the forest without shelter and food, because due to the actions of the Belarusian services, they could not leave the border area.
We emphasized that under Article 3 of the Convention also resulted in positive obligations for states in terms of protection against torture, in particular if the applicant had suffered a miscarriage not long ago. Such persons should be granted special protection. The applicants did not receive individual decisions and their situation was not individually assessed, which also constitutes a violation of the provisions of the Convention. We also complain that the behaviour of Polish Border Guard officers constitutes a broader practice of preventing the submission of applications for international protection when crossing the Polish border.
In the second plea, we indicate that the applicants did not have any effective remedy against the pushback they experienced and that Polish law did not provide for any legal remedy which would suspend the performance of the removal in such a situation. We point out that the applicants had no possibility at the domestic level to take any legal steps aimed at verifying the actions of the Polish authorities from the point of view of their compliance with the rights provided for in the Convention.
When the applicants finally managed to submit an application for international protection, they were placed in a guarded center for foreigners. Fortunately, they were already released from the closed center and redirected to the open reception center.
The case is being conducted by attorney-at-law Małgorzata Jaźwińska and lawyer Magdalena Fuchs.