The humanitarian crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border drags on. Helsinki Foundation sends a report to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Migrants dumped in the forest, sham legalisation attempts, violence perpetrated by law enforcement agencies, the impossibility to provide medical assistance to exhausted people repeatedly pushed through the barbed wire on the border – these are still relevant images of the humanitarian crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border. And it was these problems that the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights focused on in its report on last year’s human rights violations at international borders presented to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
In its report to the Human Rights Council of May 2021, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants recalled that the use of pushbacks as part of migration policies adopted by certain states must stop. At the same time, the Rapporteur made many recommendations on how to manage border security while respecting human rights. Based on these observations, the Special Rapporteur decided to use his next report to address human rights violations at international state borders, both land and maritime.
The report of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights sent to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is a proposal for a contribution to the above-described report summarising the situation on Poland’s borders in 2021. We focused on describing the humanitarian crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border and presenting the related policies of the state and selected institutions. The report presents a concise summary of the problems concerning the law and practices of law enforcement agencies and human rights violations that we have reported on both independently and as part of a broad social movement, the Granica Group. We describe, among other things, changes in legislation on migrants that violate the principles of EU asylum law and are incompatible with human rights standards, violations related to the introduction and duration of the state of emergency or unacceptable conditions in immigration detention centres.
The humanitarian crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border did not end on the last days of 2021. There are still many people who try to cross the border each day without having access to legal border crossings. In doing so, they expose themselves to many dangers, including deportation to Belarus and violence at the hands of Belarusian authorities. At the same time, the prohibition on staying in the frontier areas close to the border with Belarus has been extended until 30 June 2022, virtually preventing any kind of assistance for those who have been subjected to repeated expulsions to Belarus.