by H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times
October 14, 2021
WARSAW — On Thursday, Poland’s parliament enacted legislation that human rights experts believe attempts to legalize pushbacks of migrants across its borders, in violation of the country’s international legal obligations.
Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia have reported significant surges in migrants from Afghanistan and Iraq attempting to cross their borders from Belarus, in what Warsaw and Brussels describe as a type of hybrid warfare meant to put pressure on the EU over sanctions placed on Minsk.
Border guards are following government procedures that were revised in August and are now inscribed into law. To take effect, the legislation must now be signed by President Andrzej Duda, a supporter of the ruling nationalists.
The revisions include a mechanism that allows a person caught illegally crossing the border to be compelled to leave Polish territory based on a decision made by the local Border Guard head. The order may be challenged to the Border Guard commander, but this does not prevent it from being carried out. Furthermore, the bill empowers the chief of the Office of Foreigners to deny an application for international protection made by a foreigner who is apprehended immediately after illegally crossing the border.
Migrants have the right to seek asylum under international law, and it is illegal to return potential asylum seekers to countries where their lives or well-being may be jeopardized.
According to the EU’s home affairs commissioner, EU members must secure the bloc’s external borders while simultaneously upholding the rule of law and fundamental rights.